Who makes up our global community? Today, we put the spotlight on Liliana Soroceanu, a longtime activist and supporter in the U.S. As a member of our Solidarity Network, Liliana is a community leader who hosted an event to bring awareness to our mission and demonstrate the power of women coming together.
What motivates you to create a better world?
I was given a superb opportunity to come to this country as an immigrant on a scholarship to get my doctorate, and now I’m living my dream as a researcher, coming from a country where I could not have done that. What drives me is keeping that opportunity alive for people here, and expanding that opportunity around the world for people everywhere. I find it extremely unfair and frustrating that people's opportunities in life are connected to where they happened to be born; not everybody can migrate.
What inspired you to invest in women’s power?
I’ve been an activist my whole adult life. I first was an activist in a country where you couldn’t really be one. I was extremely impacted by Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. The title refers to how half the sky is carried by women. In the book and documentary, I saw women from all over the world who have done extraordinary things in their communities and who live in areas that are extremely difficult to do so, whether they’re living in warzones, poverty, or are refugees.
We know this from research, and since I’m a scientist I believe in data: All societies in which women thrive are more prosperous and more peaceful. Supporting women’s causes in terms of economic stability and access to education and healthcare is more than just solidarity with other women. It’s really working towards a more fair and more peaceful world.
Why did you choose to connect with Women for Women International?
When I learned about Women for Women International, I saw the organization started by helping women in Bosnia & Herzegovina. As someone from Romania, I was touched that the organization began with Eastern Europe. I left Europe during a time of violence. Women were caught in the middle, especially women in minority communities. Conflict is always bad, but when it happens in your community, you can’t even recognize that society. It just felt like a different world.
I always wanted to do something internationally, and what I like about Women for Women International is it supports women where they are. It supports women economically by training them to gain independence, which is important long-term. Having women go to school, learning a trade, becoming independent economically — it’s a better, more sustainable way to help a society.
Is there a particular moment or story from your sponsored sister that stands out to you?
When you read about one of your sisters having gone through the program successfully and graduating, and they tell you what they’ve done...those moments are very simple but important things. When you read about women’s accomplishments, those are probably the most touching and what's kept me going for eight years.
You held an event for Women for Women International. What advice would you have for someone who wanted to do something like this?
I actually took your advice; there was a series of emails that were very detailed about how to advertise and how to make sure people are coming. I wanted to reach out to more than just my immediate group of friends. I had someone from work help me arrange it, and so I only knew four of the attendees. There were people from all over the world, and they came from societies in which women didn’t have the same opportunities and were less encouraging of girls going to school.
The advice I’d give is to start with a story, because in the end, if people can contribute, great, but if not, learning about the mission and story of the organization is very important. Raise awareness, highlight the importance of women’s equality here at home and abroad, let people bring their own stories. When people understand what’s at stake, they have a very different view of what’s going on, and when you ask them to help, they may be more open to once they understand the issue and the importance and impact it may have on their own lives.