Attending the Women Deliver conference was empowering

STEPPING UP: Molly Langley is encouraging others to join her in effecting humanitarian change
STEPPING UP: Molly Langley is encouraging others to join her in effecting humanitarian change

Just back from Vancouver, Nambucca's Molly Langley is shimmering with inspiration and energy from the Women Deliver conference she was invited to attend.

Women Deliver is the world's largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well being of girls and women and Molly found herself there, among the likes of Julia Gillard, Justin and Sophie Trudeau, Princess Mary of Denmark and thousands of other leaders, young and older, thanks to a serendipitous meeting with one of the organisers in a village in Fiji in 2017.

"I was doing some field work in a village and this woman approached me and encouraged me to apply for the conference. She'd heard about the (humanitarian) work I've been doing there," the 18-year-old said.

"The experience in Vancouver was amazing ... imagine spending a week with more than 8000 driven, heart-motivated people - it was very empowering.

"And it gave me hope - I came away thinking that yes, I can do this, I have the opportunity to make a meaningful change in the lives of other young people."

I have grown up in a home with running water and electricity - I acknowledge my reality is not the same as the young people in the villages

Molly Langley

The way Molly is effecting change is through volunteering in Fiji, bringing educational and sanitation resources to remote villages.

"I have travelled a lot from a young age and I have grown up in a home with running water and electricity - these are important things that remind me how lucky I am. I acknowledge that my reality is unfortunately not the same as that of the young people I have met in these villages.

"After the HSC last year, a fellow volunteer and I took sanitary products over to Fiji ... we had conversations about mental health, hygiene and sanitation with young people there.

"These can be tough topics, but as one young person to another, we could have casual and constructive conversations."

Participating in the Women Deliver conference was a major milestone for Molly - she describes it like "a refuelling station for knowledge and ideas ... it was very motivating".

She found particular inspiration in the work and words of Dr Alaa Murabit, who at 30 is a Canadian physician, Meritorious Service Cross recipient, one of 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals Advocates and a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth.

"She talked about the importance of religion for women and their health and reproductive rights, and that it does not have to be a thing that restricts you, but rather it empowers you," Molly said.

"She started her humanitarian journey at 15, like me, and she has so much courage and motivation ... I felt I could draw on some of that strength."

Photo from Women Deliver file

Photo from Women Deliver file

Among the gruelling program of seminars, workshops and plenary sessions that ran from 6am to 10pm every day, Molly also caught up with Julia Gillard, who shared her message of the importance of education for girls.

"Julia emphasized the longer girls stay at school, the more prosperous their lives are and that ripples through society.

"Justin and Sophie Trudeau kept popping up all week and at the end they announced $1.4 billion for women's rights, which really sets us up to head in the right direction.

"Princess Mary of Denmark was also there - she was so down to earth and talked about the power of accepting women, allowing them to be powerful."

Refuelled by the conference, Molly's momentum has moved to top gear: she is continuing her humanitarian work with a tour to Fiji in October through her own Nalu Tours, where she provides the opportunity for five young volunteers to join her for an enriching, cross-cultural experience.

"They can be part of the change in Fiji ... it's not a job for me, it is circular initiative with the money used to sustain projects there such as the Student Learning Centre I want to see built."

Locally she is working with schools and employment agencies in the Nambucca Valley, hosting motivational seminars to inspire the youth here to appreciate their education and the opportunities available to them.

And her legal studies ...

"I got a vice-chancellor's scholarship to study full-time at Southern Cross University. I've always had a passion for law - it is often inaccessible to those hwo need it most, I would like to help change that."

Molly would like to thank Veena Tilly and Rotary Nambucca Heads for their support. For further information please contact Molly directly.

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