Kauai News

Part Four: Committee on the Status of Women announces Honorable Mention of the 2023 Women’s History Essay Contest

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Honorable Mention was awarded to Èsjhalee Chung Ching Man, an upcoming 2023 senior at Kaua‘i High School. Photo Courtesy: County of Kaua‘i

The Kaua‘i Committee on the Status of Women is proud to announce four students placing top honors in the 2023 Women’s History Essay Contest. Honorable Mention was awarded to Kaua‘i High School upcoming senior, Èsjhalee Chung Ching Man.

“We mahalo Èsjhalee for her essay on gender equity and justice,” said Essay Committee Chair Nicole Cristobal. “The theme ʻYour silence will not protect you’ from Audre Lorde reminds us that it is important to speak up and out against injustices toward women, māhū, and all people. Èsjhalee’s essay provided a strong perspective from the younger generation of how we can right many of our societal wrongs. She is an example of a leader who has the skills, intellect, and heart necessary to make our world more pono.”

Èsjhalee says she has always been heavily influenced by her hardworking parents, who continue to expand her life skills to tackle the real world. From her assertive work ethic to knowing the secret on how to cook the best rice, her parents continue to impact her life greatly. Èsjhalee says one of her biggest achievements is getting accepted to Kaua‘i High School’s National Honor Society. She has a fascination for nutrition and plans to study in that field after graduation.

In celebration of Women’s History Month the committee opened the contest from January to March, to all Kaua‘i public, private, charter and home-school high school students. This year’s essay contest theme was, “Your silence will not protect you,” which is a famous quote by American civil rights leader, Audre Lorde, who dedicated her life to confronting racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia through community organizing, writing, and teaching. Entrants were asked to submit a one-page essay answering the question, “What is a social justice issue that impacts girls and/or genders non-conforming persons, and what are potential solutions?”

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Cash prizes were awarded to the top three students, and an additional student named Honorable Mention. This is the final part in a four-part series highlighting the students who wrote the winning essays.

Èsjhalee Chung Ching Man’s essay is featured below:

Historically, there were gender roles for both men and women which created a competitive hierarchy. This impacted the way women have been perceived by others and themselves. Despite the constitutional amendments that gave women the same rights and freedoms as their male counterparts, the woman’s voice is not as heard.

A solution to this topic is the Power of Voices in Wāhine and the Ho’ihi Wāhine Survey(s) (Respect Women Survey) to help adjust the community’s view of all women and also increase their comfortability in their community.

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If one only listens to a one-sided perspective, How will the world run harmoniously if no voices, opinions and/or perspectives from women are valued and positively taken advantage of? How will the world become a better place for everyone this way? Research from Times Magazine, The Truth About How Much Women Talk — and Whether Men Listen, say that women are observed to verbally restrain themselves from speaking too much in public environments.

In order to maintain their image, women talk less to refrain from being seen as dominant, aggressive and overbearing towards the listening audience. The ratio of men to women that speak publicly, intensifies the stereotype that men hold more dominance and power against women. However, not all women hold this stereotype to a serious upbringing. However, despite the support, it is still hard for some who hold personal dominance as something they are still self-conscious about.

My solution is to create monthly community surveys that encourage women to openly speak up on what they believe, how their community can improve their use of female participation/voice, opinions on topics that are more sensitive to women and also provide advice to help other fellow women to help battle significant situations. These monthly community surveys would be known as, Power of Voices in Wāhine; benefitting both women who are comfortable speaking up and those who prefer sharing anonymously.

This survey is also friendly for all including the LGBTQ+ communities who also struggle from speaking their minds. The Power of Voices in Wāhine will give women the opportunity to have a voice in governmental bills, acts, and even projects that heavily involve their presence. Instead of disregarding the other genders, they will also have the opportunity to use their voice to help speak upon their influences and impact on their own female relatives, friends, etc.

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Similarly to the Power of Voices in Wāhine, the information and entries will be presented on a separate monthly survey known as, Ho’ihi Wāhine Survey (Respect Women Survey). In the Ho’ihi Wāhine Survey, all genders other than females, will receive the opportunity to share their personal influences on females including their opinions on female topics, how to properly support females and mainly spread the support on female movements, etc.

From a personal perspective, I find myself feeling self conscious when everyone contradicts and under looks what I have to say. This results in me staying silent and even going without a day of saying a single word. I find it difficult to openly use my voice, advocate and also reach out to other females as a “safe place” to seek advice and relief.

In spite of this, I feel like the Power of Voices in Wāhine and Ho’ihi Wāhine Survey(s) will bridge both communities (men and women) together by equally involving each other in creating a community that heavily concentrates on unity while creating a “safe place” for the shy majority.

In a word, the hierarchy between all genders makes it extremely difficult for women to openly express their femininity without not being taken seriously. Although there are females who are comfortable with speaking up for themselves despite tough circumstances, the majority of the other females are still taking baby steps to get to this comfortable point.

My surveys including Power of Voices in Wāhine and Ho’ihi Wāhine Survey(s) will reach out to all these communities and help build unity based upon the voices of all.

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