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Stumbling Desire: On My Feet for the Voiceless

I have always had access to recourse. I am a Caucasian American with educated and well-travelled parents, entering at birth into the ranks of the most privileged people on the planet. Growing up, I was the only girl, sandwiched between two tyrannical brothers, which gave me the most fundamental understanding of conflict resolution and the need for advocacy. Again, I was lucky to have parents who taught us about fairness, and also encouraged us to explore the complexity of a world where fairness is not so readily accessible. It was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a college internship, that I gained knowledge of the barriers women face to equity in the developing world.

When I graduated from college in 2004, my story took an immediate twist. I discovered I was pregnant the same week I received my acceptance letter to a two-year humanitarian internship in Jakarta, Indonesia. My husband and I struggled through the decision to place our first son for adoption, and then after the birth of our second son, we separated and subsequently divorced.

It was as a single mother that I began to understand what it meant to feel as though I had little recourse. I had reached adulthood with an embarrassing level of oblivion regarding the wide-ranging effects of patriarchy, racism, and other structural forms of oppression. This narrow view was due in large part to the fact that I had never encountered any significant glass ceilings until I found myself trying to navigate the welfare system. I suddenly knew what it meant to be poor and to feel desperate, and my sympathy for those with no recourse was transformed into empathy. I also saw myself in perspective, relative to women in the U.S. and around the globe whose poverty and desperation is far more crippling than what I experienced.

It was a privilege in disguise to share the emotions and barriers of the people I have devoted my life to helping. In the midst of my separation from my husband, I started a nonprofit called Bald Solidarity that addresses global women’s rights issues. It developed out of a stumbling desire to do something from where I stand to address human rights violations, and the poverty and oppression from which those issues result. Now, as a mother, a law student and a nonprofit director, I’m eager to find my place in the global women’s rights movement.


nilima's picture

Dear Beth

Everyone who are doing great work has their own story of turning point where they have seen or experienced the pain and started working to eliminate them. Your story is also one of them but i can see, your internship in Bangladesh most have helped you a lot to know condition of women in developing countries besides your own story.

What impress me a lot is that you are a strong woman and which is very important. We women, here in the developing countries are brought up with the belief that we are very weak, and it makes us emotionally weak. Even in my case, many times i have found that my emotions have weakened my confidence. But we have to fight, and move ahead.

I like your story of how you entered into this world of women's right movement and i wish you all the best for the upcoming days too. And we all will be together in this journey for sure.

Thanking you

Beth Roberts's picture

All the best, Nilima!

I just made a contribution to your profile on One Young World. I will keep you in my heart and I encourage you to just keep doing what you're doing. Your passion is so obvious and your story is so beautiful. Thank you for all your efforts--none of it is in vain.

Lots of love to you,


nilima's picture

hi Beth

Well i am happy to know that you made a contribution but i didnt get how did you do that! would you mind sending me the details in my inbox? or

Thanking you

nilima's picture

It is because i need to know

It is because i need to know how much i have.

Beth Roberts's picture

Of course! No problem--I

Of course! No problem--I just sent it to your gmail account.

nilima's picture

Thank you Thank you Thank you

Thank you Thank you Thank you so so so very much Beth, Thank you So much

AyeshaM's picture

thank you!

Dear Beth,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with such honesty and vulnerability. Good luck in your endeavors!



"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."

- Mevlana Jalal-ad-Din Rumi

ana hamuka's picture

as a fellow well-educated and

as a fellow well-educated and well-traveled Caucasian American, it's really cool to see how your perspective in life developed this new richness. wishing you and your child the best of health and happiness.

xx ana

ps, checked out bald solidarity and it looks awesome! nice work and keep it up.

Breese's picture


Dear Beth,
Thank you for having the strength to stand up in the face of hardship and work so hard to help others!

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