Ariana Abadian-Heifetz: Empowering Girls Through Knowledge
Ariana Abadian-Heifetz, Class of 2008
Gann alum Ariana Abadian-Heifetz '08 was working in rural India when she discovered how little knowledge young women had of their bodies – particularly when it came to menstruation. When she set out to find resources that spoke to the specific needs of rural communities and were engaging for young children, she came up empty-handed.
That's when her idea was born. With a group of collaborators, Ariana developed Spreading Your Wings – a comic book available in Hindi and English explaining the workings of the female body, dispelling pernicious menstruation-related myths, and spreading a message of body positivity.
"We strive to equip girls with accurate and relatable information and help them reframe the way they see their bodies, to transform the shame they feel into pride," said Ariana, who successfully funded the project through a crowdsourcing campaign.
Gann instilled in Ariana the importance of questioning and inspired her to reflect deeply on the ways ignorance and apathy can contribute to injustice. "I approach my job as a quest to inspire questioning," says Ariana. "When I sit down in a community, my hope is to engage children's curiosity … to help girls feel safe to question, so that they are empowered to make healthy choices for themselves."