This March 8th we commemorate the struggle of women around the world and, as every year for the last three editions, at EL PAÍS América we decided to launch a special with stories of women who have contributed to improving our society. This year we wanted them to be the women protagonists of the historical moment that America is going through, who would write what women inspire them every day. What are your references? They, who have become something more than a symbol from different spheres of politics, academia, social struggle, and culture, walk on the shoulders of teachers, ancestors, and pioneers who paved the way for us.
Now it’s up to their heiresses. Francia Márquez, Vice President of Colombia; Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile; Leila Guerriero, writer and journalist; Alicia Bárcena, Mexican diplomat and biologist; Txai Suruí, a defender of the Amazon, and Márcia Cristina Barbosa, a Brazilian physicist, continue this legacy so that millions of women and girls follow that path. A path that until not so long ago had been denied to them in a region marked by violence, economic and gender inequality.
A path that shows the importance of girls and young women feeling represented by diverse, indigenous and Afro-descendant women who occupy spaces in decision-making. The vice president of Colombia, Francia Márquez, decided to dedicate her text to the women of her community, the women of Cauca:
“It was our elders, grandmothers, mothers, teachers and midwives who walked these paths before us. Who weaved, from the root, the necessary bridges with the spiritual and emotional world; who have assumed with dignity and courage the special function of giving birth and sustaining life, of sowing the seeds of hope, but also of cultivating the fruits of perseverance to feed their families. It was our ancestors who preserved and shared the essential knowledge and feelings to live in harmony with the Casa Grande and so that today we continue to guide generations with the sensitivity necessary to allow us to dream of better worlds”. Here you can read all his text.
The environmental activist Txai Suruí wrote about her mother, Neidinha Suruí, a fighter for the Amazon and indigenous peoples. “She was the first woman to inspect areas occupied by isolated indigenous peoples in her country, in an environment dominated by men who said that women should be in the offices, kitchens or health clinics (…) Warrior and visionary, she faced prejudice and discrimination, opening the way for other women in a male field. Called the guardian of the jungle, she has defended the indigenous people and land for 40 years Uru-eu-wau-wau and has inspired women and men all over the planet.” Here you can read his whole story. The documentary The Territoryshortlisted for the Oscars, tells a little about the life of this incredible woman.
“It is not easy to be a pioneer,” writes Michelle Bachelet, the first president of Chile, between 2006 and 2010, and later, between 2014 and 2018. “Society has always asked women to be exceptional to achieve what others have inherited for centuries.” . She decided to talk about Eloísa Díaz, the first doctor in Chile and a reference in her political career and in her life as a doctor. In 1886 when she Díaz entered the Faculty of Medicine, they decided that she should study behind a screen to protect men from her image. “Those of us who opted for health in our academic and social training felt, already well into the 20th century, the validity of this history. In the classrooms, in the ceremonies, Eloísa continued in some way with us. Because neither the weight of discrimination nor the impact of public policies that enable equality can be erased”, says Bachelet. Here the complete story. These women would not have made it this far if it weren’t for those who fought before them.
As Leila Guerriero says about the writer María Elena Walsh: “She inoculated many of us with the virus of freedom.” Here is this beautiful tribute that Guerriero wrote. “That woman who was the soundtrack for generations, who composed things as lysergic as the upside down kingdom (They told me that in the Upside Down Kingdom/ a bear fits in a nut/ That babies wear beards and mustaches/ and that a year lasts a month), and classics like The Manuelita turtle.
Alicia Bárcena, a Mexican diplomat, chose the figure of the Chilean Julieta Kirkwood, as an example that women from the entire region inspire other women. “Re-founder of feminism in Chile, this sociologist studied and developed the knots of structural subordination that had not been resolved with the battle won for women’s suffrage,” Bárcena writes of her. All of this was done by Kirkwood during the Pinochet dictatorship. How important that her name does not fall into oblivion.
Márcia C. Barbosa, a Brazilian scientist, chose a contemporary teacher of hers: Elisa Baggio Saitovich. “At the end of the event, the daring scientist offered to organize the next conference in Brazil and invited me to collaborate. The legend became a partner.” Together they created the IUPAP international conference on Women in Physics that called for a comprehensive package of pro-equity public policies. “It took years to tighten the system until many of the public policies were implemented,” says Barbosa.
Teachers, pioneers, role models who taught that it was possible to lead their community, study medicine, be successful writers or develop public policies that would change their country and the world. Their heiresses pay this tribute to them. Here you can read the full special.
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🎶 A song:
hello imposterby Francisca Valenzuela
By Lorraine Arroyo
Impostor Friends: We have a song. The Chilean-American singer, songwriter and producer Francisca Valenzuela has written it for all of us who have ever felt that we are not enough, that we are not up to the task or that we do not deserve to be in the places we have reached thanks to our work.
“Hello Impostor was born because I realized that I was constantly with this impostor syndrome, which is that voice that was telling me that I don’t deserve to be here. They are going to catch me, they are going to throw me out and they are going to know that I am a fraud, ”explains the singer who also directs the Ruidosa feminist festival in a video that she published last year on her YouTube account.
In it, Valenzuela shares reflections with women from different fields who have also felt the impostor syndrome. “It’s a song that invites you to recognize that and say to that part of yourself: ‘Ok, you’re there but I’m not going to listen to you,’ says the singer-songwriter. For her part, the Chilean actress and singer Ramona Satt launches her own technique to try to overcome it: “I face the monster, I’m going to fight.”
“The voice in my head sounds like a siren says: What are you doing? / Stop, don’t you dare’ Who do you think you are? Are you good?/ And I feel like an impostor/ Full of doubts”, says part of the lyrics of a song that also opens a space for solutions: “Get out of my head, I no longer want to believe (….) I can see that I am brilliant (…) No more doubts (…) Go away impostor “.
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