This summer I’ve read two memoirs — stories that have rocked me at my core. Life histories hard to comprehend, difficult to identify with and yet they happened to women who are like me in many ways. As I closed each book, I was left stunned, searching for words to express the experience I had as I absorbed their narratives.

womens voices speak up MalalaMalala Yousafzal loved to go to school. Her love became a driving passion that propelled her to speak out for all children to be educated. In her world (the Middle East), this was a dangerous stance to take. After the terrorist attack of 9/11, the Taliban moved into her neighborhood and began to take her right to be educated. She and her father were very vocal about many injustices but especially refusing to educate girls. Her fearlessness made her an international figure by the age of 12. At the age of 15, Malala took a near fatal shot to the head from those who saw her voice as a threat. Her sacrifice was rewarded with even more than she gave up. She is now a global figure symbolizing freedom and bravery across the world.

womens voice speak up polygamist's daughterAnna LeBaron never knew if she’d be able to go to school or even if she’d wake up in the same city she went to sleep in. Her family was so large, feeding everyone was a struggle. Child labor, isolation from the world, and abandonment were the norm. She was born into a polygamist cult (right here in North America) that was always on the run from the FBI. Her father, the infamous cult leader, regularly had members killed who did not obey him. She never had a chance to find her voice until her teenage years when she courageously ran away. Now she fights for freedom for all women living under domination.

After reading these women’s stories, I am more and more convinced that where ever we are, we must stand up to injustice. Silence is robbing us of more than we realize. We must find our voice and use it powerfully. The power of one woman’s voice to inspire change is both invigorating and humbling. The fact that we are alive makes it practically a requirement for us to stand up and speak up. For the sake of all of those who’s lives we could impact, take a stand.

What will you do today to empower the women beside you and coming behind you?