Women Move LA during second annual Young Women’s Assembly

Farah Faiza


More than half a thousand girls from the Los Angeles County were urged to share their stories and change the world at this year’s second annual Young Women’s Assembly.

Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland first held the event in March 2017, to promote gender equity on behalf of the young women in the area who are underrepresented. This year it was held on Oct. 12 at the JW Marriott with guest speaker Celia Chavez, the president and general manager of Telemundo 52 Los Angeles. Yet, the main part of the event was The Moth, an organization that focuses on having stories shared with others in hopes that people will listen and be able to connect.

“What we’re really here to do is not necessarily say a bunch of stuff to you, it’s to make a lot of space for you all to get a chance to figure out what you wanna say,” Micaela Blei said, who is the Director of Education and Community for The Moth. “What’s your story and what’s your experience and how do you want to use your voice in the world.”

The event was split into two parts and first started with an introduction into the program, which included short stories that described any sort of change in the storyteller’s life. Two of their alumni, Aleeza Kazmi and Diavian Walters, came forward and shared stories about a significant point in their lives that changed their perceptions of who they were as a person.

“They were able to make people feel what they feel and have the girls relate to what their story is,” senior Ceejay Posis said. “People were sympathizing with the speaker, and you can just see the unity between the speaker and the audience.”

Throughout the event, girls in the audience were told clearly that their stories and their voices mattered, regardless if they found themselves to be uninteresting or irrelevant. They were even able to go up afterward and ask the storytellers questions about their stories and experience working with The Moth, as well as how they were able to come forward with their voices.

Garcetti, Wakeland and Chavez concluded the first half with their speeches about women empowerment. Chavez shared with the audience the emotional story of her struggles, and how she made it to where she was after thirty years in the broadcast industry. She stressed how important it is that girls take the opportunities they are provided with and branch out of their comfort zone to reach success. Wakeland also had a rousing speech highlighting all the changes the mayor is implementing for girls in the county, such as more opportunities to be active with the Mayor’s Youth Council, Girls Play LA, LAFD Girls Fire Camp, LAPD Cadet Program, Full Stem Ahead and more. Garcetti also emphasized this, and how important women are and always have been by bringing up his grandmothers and how they were strong in their own right by fighting for a better future for their descendants.

“When we tell our stories we have power and what I love about The Moth and what you’re hearing here today is there’s one thing that you own in this room that nobody else owns,” Garcetti said. “And that is your story. Your story nobody else has, embrace it, all of the trauma in it, all of the triumph in it, all of the difficulties and all the glory in it.”

The second part of the event was an educational and interactive session led by The Moth to get the girls started on telling their own stories. Girls were split into four separate groups led by Moth instructors who gave tips on what stories could be about and how to form them into something they’d want to tell others. During a couple group exercises, students were able to share their stories with one another. Rules were set where the information shared was confidential and no one had to do anything that made them uncomfortable.

“It changed how I viewed things for other people because I realized that a lot of people don’t speak up about what’s going on in their lives,” junior Mia Garcia said. “When I heard stories from different people telling us how they spoke up, it made me feel empowered.”

Additionally, girls were given gift bags to take home with several items that were due to the event sponsors.

“When we invest in everybody, this truly becomes a city of angels,” Garcetti said. “My promise to you is to follow you. Not just to lead, but to follow you and to hear your voice and to hear your stories.”