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VOF Week 2: (From Guatemala to New York, my personal journey as a feminist)

Growing up I hated that the boys got more attention in class, and that girls did not speak up as often, but I did not consider myself a feminist. Then I went to college. I took an international relations course my first semester and read I, Rigoberto Menchu, a autobiography of a Guatemalan indigenous woman chronicling the civil war that lasted over thirty years and killed 200,000 people. I had never heard about the wars in Latin America in the '70s-'90s and my eyes were completely opened. I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala later that year with a professor and we met indigenous women, human rights activists and toured the country. This is when I began to call myself a feminist because I saw that women globally had so much at stake - everything from the right to vote, work and receive an education to owning property and making reproductive choices. I had fallen into the classic American trap - thinking I did not need feminism because many white women in the US were OK.

I stuck with international development studies and after graduation headed to an internship with a Catholic NGO at the United Nations in New York. I lived in a convent and met women activists from around the world in the halls of the UN. I have lived the life of a global citizen ever since, meeting women activists, and if I could, writing their stories. I have interviewed people like Malalay Joya, a woman activist in Afghanistan who receives death threats and Doo Aphane, the first woman in Swaziland to sue her government for the right to own property.

So, living in what Bob Marley would call the "rat race" in New York, where you need status to get ahead, I decided to get my Master's Degree at Columbia in Strategic Communications. Why not journalism, my first love? Because I want to be able to tell these women's stories to bigger and better media outlets, and help non profits use communications in their campaigns and advocacy, which many do not know how to do effectively.

This has been my journey to World Pulse, which I learned about through the AWID newsletter, an organization I very much appreciate. I am happy to see this site, I think it is clear, easy to use and aspires to be a platform for women that the world very much needs. I am happy to have arrived here.

Word Count: 420


misscarly's picture

VOF Week 2 Assignment

Dear Emily,

I had the opportunity to read your second essay for Voices of the Future. I loved that it was a story, words about the life of a real woman that stirred you to begin investigating women's rights. You were able to get out of the 'classic American trap'. It's interesting that it also happened in a common way, traveling outside one's homeland opens up another world and pushes one to accept new perspectives. Suddenly the media veil is lifted and you can see the situation for yourself. The beauty of platforms such as World Pulse is that they open up new worlds to people who don't have the means to go see other situations firsthand.

You mention a sad truth. When I read the sentence "I want to be able to tell these women's stories to bigger and better media outlets..." I wondered why the voices of the women themselves were not enough. Of course, whether on a site such as World Pulse or within a documentary film, there is always a frame or context for memory. The sad truth is that without such platforms most stories and experiences would go unheard. You gave me a lot to ponder. Thank you!

Best wishes with the rest of the VOF essays!

with kindness,
carly diaz

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