GEN in Houston: Elisabeth Bates on the “Hurdles” Women Face Globally and Locally

Contributed by: Elisabeth Bates


I’d like to start by thanking Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) for their efforts to expand their mission and services to the Greater Houston Area. The We Are Girls – Houston Host Committee will start contributing to the blogs on the GEN website and I’m happy to be one of the first people to share an article! I am passionate about empowering young women and helping to make Houston a great place to by volunteering my time and energy with nonprofits like GEN. I come from a long tradition of community involvement and have been involved in the Houston community for over twenty years I am excited to celebrate with Girls Empowerment Network this year as they celebrate their own 20th birthday!


Recently I watched a short film, “Hurdles,” narrated by the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. In the short two minute film, Watson’s narration highlights the progress that has been made with respect to women’s equality, the right to vote, education, and leadership. She notes the following:


  • 1893 New Zealand gives women voting rights

  • 192 countries have followed

  • 1963 America passes the first Equal Pay Act, 60 countries have followed

  • 97 countries now have more women in University than men

  • In Rwanda, over 50% of Parliamentarians are women

  • 21 countries have female Heads of State or government


Emma Watson


While much progress has been made with respect to women’s equality around the world, the movie also reminds us that too many young girls and women suffer each year. Watson notes these atrocities that still plague women:

  • There are 15 million child brides every year

  • 62 million girls are still out of school

  • 1 in 3 women still experience violence


The film and these statistics made me think about how a large network of people working together to encourage young girls can make all the difference in their lives. “Think globally and act locally” is an effective and thoughtful way to summarize that we can positively impact the lives of girls around the world by starting where we live, here in Houston! I hope that you will join us at the We Are Girls Houston Conference on April 29, 2017 at Hogg Middle School in the Heights to empower the lives of young girls.


You can follow the global effort and get involved online and in person as we work for #genderequaltiytogether and @UN_Women to inspire and change the lives of young girls. Get involved with the local effort to empower girls at #WeAreGirls by @Girls_EN.

Felicia Gonzalez