Kate D. Levin holds an MPA in International Development from Harvard University, is a renowned top model and a passionate activist. She is a co-founder of Komera and sits on Komera’s Board of Directors. Currently, she works for the non-profit organization, Code REDD.
1. How did you first learn about Komera and what inspired you to participate in the Komera Global Run?
Margaret always returns to Rwinkwavu every year to host the girls run there in the community where our girls live and study. I think we both always had a global vision for the run – we work in Rwanda, but our mission could apply to any community of people anywhere so this idea of connecting people, galvanizing them around a single, shared challenge through running really speaks to me – as a Komera board member and as a runner.
2. Why is girls’ empowerment important to you?
I was not an empowered girl – I struggled with my weight, was teased, and ultimately gave in to social pressures to be thin. I developed an eating disorder when I should have been empowered to realize that my worth is so much more than the number on the scale or the measuring tape. These are rich people problems, and I remember when it dawned on me that there are 2 billion people in the world who don’t get enough to eat and yet here I was actually choosing to restrict calories in a way that was harmful to my health. This led to my interest in global poverty reduction and a great deal of the research proves that empowering women and girls is a very effective way to activate social and economic change in low-income communities. Further I learned that women and girls are treated like garbage in much of the world – stripped of their dignity, enslaved, and kept ignorant. For me, someone who’d struggled with self-esteem for so long, this really fired me up – it wasn’t fair and I could relate in my own small way to feeling undervalued. I love Komera because we really work hard to make an impact on each girl’s life. Its not enough just to educate a girl, but to really and truly help her to realize her worth. Sadly that’s something all females need…
3. Komera uses sport as a way to help young women around the word embrace positive body image. Why is this important to you?
Sport – running, martial arts, triathlon, and dance – is a great source of joy in my life and challenging my body is a huge source of empowerment. Setting a goal such as a race, working hard to achieve it, and doing my best to complete it… well, I find that really gratifying because its ultimately about celebrating what my body can do if I treat it well rather than trying to punish it for not conforming to a social norm. Women spend far too much time worrying about the size of their hips when they could be contributing to solving the problems we face globally…