I think many of us walk around with the feeling that we’re not measuring up in terms of having “healthy habits.” Consciously or not, we think that if we could just work out all day, eat “perfectly” (whatever that might mean for you), meditate consistently, etc., that we would be “in perfect health,” never get sick, be the “perfect” weight and have “perfect” lives.
Earlier this week Chally made a post on Feministe about Voces de Cambio, a Guatemalan all-girls after school program that gives girls a voice through writing and photography. According to Feministe, it is the only all girls after school program in the entire country! The twice a week, fifteen week program encourages girls to ask any answer the question: what does it mean to be a woman in Guatemala? This is accomplished through a variety of projects that include lessons on basic photography, a photo-essay on a “woman I admire”, and the creation of a public service announcement about gender equality.
What really moved me when I was reading about this program was the various reflections from participants that were posted on the Voces de Cambio website:
“I never really thought about things like machismo before “¦ I’ve learned a lot about what it means to have opportunity and choice. I think one of the most important things we can do is raise our own awareness about important issues, and to share our own knowledge and points of view with others.”
Brenda, age 15
“We can occasionally share our opinions and ideas at home and in school, but here [in Voces de Cambio], we can always express ourselves freely.”
Cecilia, age 15
“To me, to be beautiful means to be good, kind, and humble. I used to think that for a woman to be beautiful, she had to have a perfect body and nice hair. She had to dress well and have everything she wanted. But my opinion has changed. Now I think that a beautiful woman is beautiful not because of how she looks, but because of what she carries inside.”
Sandra, age 15
Voces de Cambio is trying to add video to their curriculum. In order to do that though they need a lot more money than the program currently has, which is why they opened an account on Kickstart.com. The account is currently at $6,392 out of $7500… the catch is unless they hit their goal of $7500 in the next three days (by 3/22) they won’t get any money. Supporting this program, either by pledging (anything from $1 up!) or helping to spread the word, is a great way to support women in the global community.
Programs like this, that focus on helping young women to find their voice, mean a lot to me because being empowered to write and blog by various people in my life and online has been an amazingly transformational experience for me; I have grown more confident through the process of growing into the power of my voice, something that wouldn’t have happened without access to the tools and teachers to help start me up. Those girls in Guatemala deserve to learn the power of their own voices too – and I, personally, and overjoyed at the opportunity to play a small part in helping to make that happen. I really hope you’ll join me!