BYU–H student Alex Athans has created a non-governmental organization (NGO) she has entitled Women of Laie. She began the project with the help of peacebuilding professor David Whippy while taking his NGOs and Conflict Transformation course and its following practicum course. Over the course of these two semesters, Athans was able to dream up Women of Laie and make it into a reality, building a social media platform for the basis of her NGO.
Her NGO “is set out to help bridge the gap between students and the community through narratives.” Athans stresses the importance of women being united in their community rather than separated. She focuses on the difference in perceptions that are held all over different parts of Laie and wants to eliminate feelings of intimidation. She interviews women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds from Laie and shares their stories with the hope that women see how alike they are after all.
Another way she aspires to bridge the divide between women, in general, is to also do a photoshoot of the women she interviews and posts these pictures all in black and white. Athans purpose in this is to “eliminate the comparison we as women have sometimes.” By posting all of these stories and photos in the same filter puts all of the women (who are encouraged to show up to the photoshoots as natural as possible) on equal ground and gives empowerment not only to those who are featured but to those who read their stories and learn from real women in their community.
The platform Athans uses to share these stories is Instagram. Alex plans to present ten of her pictures and corresponding photos in the winter semester of 2020. She expressed also that she, unlike other NGOs and projects, started here at BYU–H, she can expand it and grow it anywhere because it is found on the internet. Read more on Alex and her work, and what others have to say about it in the Ke Alaka’i and check out @womenoflaie on Instagram!