I heard my sister’s voice crying out on October 9, 2012.
Though I have never met Malala Yousufzai, this 14-year-old Pakistani girl is part of my family and yours. That October, while traveling to school, this young advocate of universal education was shot in the neck and head by a Taliban gunman.
Critically wounded, she was hospitalized in Pakistan and then England. As Malala recovered, far from being silenced, her voice was amplified and heard around the world. Because of an act of barbarism, we now know of Malala’s courage, her determination, and her embrace of knowledge over ignorance.
Islamic clerics have condemned the attack. The United Nations has taken up the cause of children’s education worldwide. Malala has appeared on Time magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” and has become history’s youngest Nobel Prize nominee.
I was shaken by Malala’s story. The power of her message left me wondering: Why do we so often ignore the voices of girls and women?
This project, My Sister’s Voice, provides a space where women’s invaluable and necessary contributions to our common humanity can be heard. On their faces, we can glimpse the wisdom they’ve gained from life. In their thoughtful observations, all of us, regardless of gender, are invited to a greater understanding of our shared humanity. Stepping outside our limited backgrounds, opening our eyes and ears, we see and hear women from different nations as they impact society on multiple levels and represent diverse points of view. For all their differences, though, they are united on a fundamental level:
These are our sisters. Their issues are our issues, and as Malala reminded us, our world desperately needs to hear their voices.
Set aside any preconceived notions and just listen. You may be surprised, moved, even startled. You will not be disappointed.
–Alexis Dixon, Founder
“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”– Malala Yousafzai
Upon hearing the news of the Taliban’s attack on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who stood up for the education of young women, I was shaken. It wasn’t that I had never heard of young women being killed or oppressed. I’ve seen Nick Ut’s photograph of “the Vietnam napalm girl,” Kim Phuc; listened to the stories of Kakenya Ntaiya about the oppression of women in her Maasai village; and was deeply moved by Richard E. Robbins’ documentary Girl Rising.
Yet Malala’s story refused to let me go. I had to do something. I created Notes to Our Sons and Daughters: My Sister’s Voice as a way of “listening” to Malala’s voice. Her courage, her hopes, her pain, her dreams, her contributions belong to all of us, irrespective of gender. It is in the listening that we are transformed and can begin to change the world.
My Sister’s Voice provides a space where women’s invaluable and necessary contributions to our common humanity can be heard. On their faces, we can glimpse the wisdom they’ve gained from life. In their thoughtful observations, all of us, regardless of gender, are invited to a greater understanding of our shared humanity.
Notes to Our Sons and Daughters: My Sister’s Voice is a photographic exhibition of stylized black-and-white portraits featuring portraits of 39 remarkable women, of international and local heritage. Accompanying their portraits is a “note” from each woman. Telling their stories with courage and dignity, they reveal the texture of their lives—triumphing in the face of great personal and external obstacles
Now more than ever, the knowledge held by women needs to be embraced if we are to begin solving the challenges facing our community.
In the voices of women we hear daughters and mothers and also brothers and husbands. The drowning out of women’s voices from earlier generations especially represents a great loss to not only corporate culture but to society. It runs the risk of cutting us off from their hard-earned wisdom, which might otherwise inform and guide people of all ages and all walks of life.
Therefore, for the good of our shared humanity, the health of our corporate culture, for our society at large, and not least, our ability to meet future challenges, let us work together to dismantle barriers artificially built between the genders and safeguard the continuity of our collective history.
Consider Notes to Our Sons and Daughters: My Sister’s Voice a small step in that process of carrying forward the wisdom of generations and both genders.
– Alexis Dixon, Founder and Vision Director
Alexis Dixon was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and now lives in San Diego, California, with his fiancé, Wendy. He is a corporate mediator.
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