In Guatemala, women represent more than 50% of the population, yet many still lack educational opportunities and gender equality. Above all, they lack a voice of their own; a voice that reflects their desires, their dreams, their decisions, the manifestation, a voice that fights, that thinks, that transforms, but above all, that impacts. We are still far away from it, and it’s not for lack of want. Too many are condemned to live in silence by the simple fact of being born a woman. Now let’s add to the fact of being a WOMAN, that she’s also indigenous, poor, from a rural area, and young. She does not have the slightest opportunity to build her own future.
There’s a common saying that we hear a lot, “That’s what you have to live with, and thank God you’re alive.” But, what is it to be ALIVE?
This saying and others are responsible for extinguishing a spark, the spark that pushes us to think, to speak, to question, to act. That is why at this point in Guatemala, injustice, violence, and corruption have been normalized, all due to the lack of HAVING A VOICE.
WHO WAS I AS A GIRL?
When I was a young girl, I felt POWERFUL. We grow up feeling like owners of a world where nothing is impossible. That’s how I felt as a child, but in my family I was constantly told, “Shut up, that’s not for you, be quiet,” or at school they told me not to give my opinion because I was a fool.
In reality, I wasn’t stupid; I was just learning Spanish. All of these messages were responsible for putting out the spark and the voice in the heart of a 7-year-old girl. So I learned not to speak, and to shut up.
HOW DID I FIND MY VOICE?
Well, it’s a long story, but the first time my voice came out, it did not actually leave my mouth. It came out of my mind and my eyes, and I was crying because I was tired of injustice. I was tired of being called silly, ugly, dirty, Indian. I hated that my teacher called me useless, and the following years were no better.
But I became stronger.
When I finally learned to say things like “I do not agree with this,” “My opinion is,” and “If you gave me the opportunity to prove what I am capable of,” my life changed completely. Then, through my voice, I got scholarships to continue my studies. I spoke up for raises where I worked. I denounced acts of corruption.
I became a leader.
All this was thanks to people like you who inspired me, who helped me believe in myself, and who strengthened my self-esteem. I chose a different path because I heard a different discourse. And believe me, this voice will never be silenced again.
HOW TO GIVE VOICE TO THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE IT? HOW HAVE I DONE THIS?
1. Journalism: One of my dreams came true! I collaborate with the Global Press Journal, where I have the opportunity to give voice to the people who are otherwise unheard. I report about issues of machismo, discrimination, social problems that affect women, matters of emigration, and sexual harassment, among others.
2. Blogs: I am currently writing for NOMADA, a journalism medium in Guatemala, where I have the opportunity to talk about the importance of education and the empowerment of women.
3. Starfish: For me, Starfish and its holistic education and empowerment program is the exact formula to change the world.
Why is this important?
Because we are working with young women who can change the world. They are young women with character, with vision, with courage, with dignity, with conscience and solidarity, women who will be models for our next generations.
It is because they are receiving a quality education and training in issues that affect our world such as climate change, teenage pregnancy, child rights, and issues of sexual harassment. They are girls who talk with their parents about domestic violence, about alcoholism, about child labor, girls thinking about the origin of life. They are women equipped with critical thinking and therefore will not be easily manipulated; they will not be easily overcome in the face of opposition or pressure. Why? Because they will know exactly what to do. They are now building a network of leaders, and they are working together because they know that together they will be stronger. They are already speaking, and their voices are beginning to be heard.
Help us to amplify their voices.
This is powerful, the girls are already models of their communities, and their voice is manifested in what they say—in their spirit, in their actions, in their look, in their self-confidence, in their perseverance, and with their examples. Believe me, the next generation is already certain of its ability to transform communities. These women can, and they will. Having a voice does not only mean saying what you think. Having a voice means deciding your life, that is, the direction of a society and the future of a country.
If we listen to what our leaders say today, we will know what the future of our country will be. It is important to change OUR DISCOURSE and create new ones that bring hope and prosperity to all without fear, without hatred, without violence, without injustice.
The next generations deserve to receive a better world from us.
We invite you to join Starfish to invest in Girl Pioneers, helping them access the knowledge, resources, and opportunities they need to become leaders advocating for a more inclusive and equitable world. Thank you to everyone who invested at our 2018 event, Visión: Amplifying Her Voice. Your support amounted to $130,000! For those who were unable to attend the event, our goal is to raise an additional $20,000 by September 30th to reach a total of $150,000, which will fully fund one grade of Girl Pioneers to attend the Starfish Impact School. Donate here today!