Education, resilience, and giving back were the main themes of the final speaker series put on by the international humanitarian agency CARE, in recognition of International Women’s Day. Founder and investor Caterina Fake and actress/producer Bianca Lawson spoke to an audience of about 45 people at Wednesday’s virtual event on Facebook Live.
Each recounted how they had one teacher that saw something in them that helped shape their belief in themselves, not only as students but also as young women.
“Mine was my first-grade teacher,” said Lawson. “She was young, she was cool, she was fun and she just made you feel like you could do anything.”
For Fake, her second-grade teacher was the one that stuck with her.
“She singled me out and said ‘You, you’ve got something’ and paid attention to me … and may we all be so lucky to have a teacher like that in our lives. Someone who notices, someone who really cares.”
What also influenced Fake was the value her family put on education, especially as immigrants who fled the Philippines in World War II during the Japanese occupation.
“My mother always said that the most important thing that they brought with them was their educations. She said you can never take away education —it’s something that will travel with you everywhere.”
That messaging is important for CARE, an organization that works to increase access to education for marginalized children, particularly adolescent girls living in fragile and conflict-affected settings. With access to education being a challenge for that demographic, it seemed natural for both women to discuss the resilience they needed to succeed.
“Even when I feel that I don’t know if I can do this, I think just showing up and trying is the whole thing, even if you fail at it or it’s hard,” said Lawson.
Fake agreed and referenced her struggles in school and how the old adage about success being tied to just showing up was absolutely true.
“I would literally be late to class and not get my paper in on time, and then I realized that if I just did the simple things, like showing up and turning in my papers on time. Doing that, all of a sudden my grade point average went up, “ she said, “It wasn’t that difficult to pull it all together.”
The last part of the conversation was about giving back and both women said they would not be where they are without women giving back to them along the way. They both happily give back whenever they can.
“Find your allies, find your mentors, and then when you can be in a position where you can be a mentor, be a mentor,” said Fake.
The 30-minute seminar wrapped up CARE’s month-long ‘I’m Every Woman’ virtual conversation series. Throughout the month, prominent women in high-profile positions in business, media, and philanthropy have spoken about the fight for gender equality and empowerment.
Alongside the virtual conversations, the campaign featured social-media takeovers on Instagram and Twitter, as well as a re-working of the women’s anthem ‘I’m Every Woman’, originally recorded by Chaka Khan in 1978. For the 2021 campaign, CARE had Khan re-record the song alongside Broadway and Tony winner Idina Menzel.
For more information about CARE, visit care.org.