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Empowering Girls of New York

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I interviewed a close friend, Nicole Zivkovic, whom I met at a summer program (Junior Statesmen of America at Princeton). She is sweet and articulate, and the creator of Girls of New York on Facebook, inspired by the famous Humans of New York site. In Girls of New York (GoNY), she interviews different people in New York about feminism, their thoughts of the movement, and their life stories. Through personal anecdotes, Zivkovic’s site seeks to spread awareness about gender identity and its societal ramifications, as well as inspire people to speak up.

 

Talon: With whom did you collaborate in creating this page?

NZ: From the beginning, there have only been two people, myself and one of my best friends, Miki Nakano.

Talon: How did you come up with the page idea?

NZ: I’ve been an active participant in the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women. I’ve spoken, moderated, and led roundtable discussions at the UN since I was nine. As a result, I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights. Girls of New York stemmed from the goal of raising awareness about the trials women face nowadays. I’ve had so many incredible female role models, a huge reason I’m so motivated to advocate for girls’ rights. This past summer, Miki and I attended the Youth United for Global Action and Awareness Summit with Plan International, an international development organization operating in 50 countries that promotes and protects children’s rights. When learning about Plan’s “Because I Am A Girl,” we met with the producers of the documentary Girl Rising, whose workshop inspired us to create an initiative that spreads awareness about girls’ rights. We set out to discuss the struggles girls face in our communities, share inspiring stories, and learn why this issue matters to our peers, neighbors, and fellow New Yorkers.

Talon: What are your goals with the site?

NZ: If one person is talking about a story and how it impacted them, I feel I’ve achieved my goal. There are so many misconceptions about feminism, and even highly educated people mistakenly fall into stereotypes about it. Although we don’t explicitly call Girls of New York a feminist site, it stands for the similar value of full equality. I’d love if Girls of New York could continue to spark conversation and maybe challenge a few misconceptions, too.

Talon: What have you learned?

NZ: I realized that I’m fortunate enough to have safety and an education, two things that aren’t a reality for many girls in our world. I have supportive parents who never allowed my gender to dictate what I was capable of doing. The site has allowed me to see and hear others’ perspectives. Through interviews, I have learned so much.

Talon: What’s your favorite thing about running Girls of New York?

NZ: My favorite part is that I can share stories and possibly empower others. It makes my day when someone tells me they loved a post. Perhaps even more gratifying is after an amazing interview, I feel inspired.

Talon: How often do you update it?

NZ: We have a new story and post every day! Although Facebook is our primary outlet, you can also find us on Instagram and Twitter @GoNYMovement.

Talon: How do you select candidates to photograph?

NZ: We started interviewing our friends, classmates, and friends’ friends, then worked towards strangers on the streets of New York. Through different media, we have been able to meet many international students and students from across New York City. I’m active in many organizations about leadership and activism for women’s causes. Consequently, I’ve had the privilege to meet leaders in these fields and discuss the site with them. Networking, via conferences, symposiums, and UN events, has been an integral part of the page’s growth. These people are interviewed like anyone else, and thankfully, they’ve been very receptive to being featured.

Talon: Anything else you want to share?

NZ: Thank you so much for the support and opportunity to showcase our Facebook page! I am so amazed and grateful that this initiative is reaching another continent, and if any readers are ever in New York, please message me on Facebook or email me at nikkiandmiki@gmail.com.

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