2013 VOF Week 4
My personal vision for my life, my community and the world starts with challenging the world with the idea that men should “act like gentlemen, but think like women”; the idea that no girl is too small to have her voice heard; that no woman should be confined only to dream of achieving well-being, and to be limited to subsist, rather than exist at her maximum potential.
My personal vision of my community is one where boys are all taught that what makes a man truly be a man is not the number of sexual encounters, or at what early age they become sexually active (sometimes with a sex worker). That the adult men in their lives will teach them to honor and cherish women, as they honor and cherish their own selves, so that an affront against a girl or a woman in the streets, or in both private and public places should be addressed as if the affront was against their own self. That learning begins at home, and that if one out of every two women in our country is subjected to domestic violence, that there is something wrong with us as a nation because not even the laws have been able to change this shameful statistic. My vision of my community is that we accept that which is wrong with us as a collective, not for the sake of shaming each other, but for the sake of healing and shaping the generations to come.
My vision for the world is that we regard each other not based on our differences, but on what makes us the same: our humanity.
In the past people have told me I should write my story. I have often wondered about the purpose of writing a book about my life. What would it serve? Plus, in El Salvador, where half the population is under age 18, most people do not engage in reading for pleasure or for guidance. Evidence of that is in the two most common university degree programs: business administration and law. Most people are in survival mode and generally limit themselves to reading newspapers, or short narratives that do not take up much time and energy. Such is the way in my country. With that said, I have noticed a trend that has been a deviance from the norm: online reading. People have responded well to reading online, and mostly where they are opportunities to interact with others, including the author(s). The anonymity that the internet affords is a two-edged sword: some people may respond honestly and constructively, others may only engage for the sake of folly or even to further violence only, as is the case of cyber-bullying. I believe that corresponding online through a program like Voices of Our Future would be positive because of the nature of the networks involved. It would serve as a platform to create the messaging and engagement necessary to tackle topics that often cannot be addressed in person, perhaps because of safety concerns.
The beauty of this is that it goes beyond borders, both physical and conceptual. For example, most recently there has been a considerable amount of activity on the web about a Salvadoran woman named Beatriz who will die because of a high-risk pregnancy. The activity online has focused on the need for Salvadorans to have an urgent discussion about abortion. As I mentioned in my first post, abortion is illegal in El Salvador under ANY circumstance, even if the mother’s life is in danger. Beatriz will die without a therapeutic abortion, and cyberspace has been lit up with activity, including campaigns asking Salvadorans to answer “what if Beatriz was your daughter?” A similar case brought Ireland’s stance on abortion recently too, but in the case of Savita Halappanavar, it was too little, too late. So, whether it is Ireland or El Salvador, whether it is abortion or violence against women, the possibilities to raise awareness and find common ground to catalyze change are exponentially greater for someone who has the skills to do this. That is why I want to be a Voices of Our Future correspondent.