It’s International Women’s Day 2019, a day of appreciation, gratitude and respect.

Girl’s Orphanage, India, 2008

Girl’s Orphanage, India, 2008

These images are from my first visit to a girl’s orphanage in India, 2008, and surfing the Indian west coast while 8 weeks pregnant with my first son. This trip and those girls made an incredible impact on me, and I subsequently adjusted the course of my life following this trip. Most of the girls had suffered abuse, rape, or had been living in the streets. They wore donated clothing with pride. They took me by the hand into their tea fields where they generate their own incomes. They shared the biggest, warmest smiles. All along the way, women around the world have inspired me to grow and evolve.

It’s not an easy road, being a woman. But the future sure looks bright. Yesterday I became the first female filmmaker to go mentor high school students at my old school. There were only a couple girls in the class, but I knew my presence there for those two young girls was extremely important.

I was the only female surfer at my high school and I was bullied hard for it. I rallied to have Surfing included as a school sport, unsuccessfully, then learned that my efforts had paved the way for a successful inclusion a year after my graduation, opening the doors for young girls coming up to start Surfing through high school. And they did. Happy International Women’s Day. As you climb the ladder, invite other girls and women to climb up with you.