Okay, full disclosure, I don’t know everything and don’t intend for others to think I do. I’m 17, or like others might say, “I’m ONLY 17.” I’ve barely started living, but I haven’t. I have lived through enough that has made me grow up faster and mature sooner than most. No complaints though, that only means that my life looks a lot clearer at a much younger age than most. It’s cool to have this perspective.
I’ve grown up with a very open and accepting family. My parents believed that whatever I wanted to do or whomever I wanted to be, was the person I was going to become. No hassle, no doubting, and free of judgment. Sounds like a popular gym slogan, I know, but it has empowered me to become the woman I am today. I’m thrilled this is the case at home, but I know there are girls who don’t have the opportunity I’ve had to blossom because they haven’t been empowered. My leadership skills and my eagerness to change the world didn’t come out of anywhere. It’s the result of a fire within, hard work and inspiration from my parents (yes, parents play the biggest role). So, I dedicate this POV not only to those girls who want to strive for greatness but to the parents who motivate them to do so.
My parents grew up in traditional families with VERY distinct gender roles. The man would go out to work, and the typical latina woman would stay at home, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing whatsoever, but I don’t want to grow up thinking it’s my destiny and that my life was already planned for me. Fortunately, my parents have been the most supportive people I’ve ever met and despite all my struggles and problems, they have never told me that I can’t do something. Not because of my health and definitely not because of my gender. Ever since my brother and I were little, my parents have supported everything we’ve wanted to do. My mother has taught me that “lo que es igual no es ventaja” which means that what is equal, is not an advantage. My brother wanted to become a musician, and while people told him that his career was not practical or that the business was not a good one, my family supported him. I’ve wanted to become a writer, public speaker, and an advocate and while there have been people who have judged me and have tried to bring me down; my parents have always supported me. My activist outlook has allowed me to enter this new realm of empowerment and want to share it with everyone else so that they have the same opportunities that I do.
I feel like girls of my generation have an advantage, living in such an open and accepting society where women now are closer to equality and sharing the same rights as men. The strong Latinas before us opened so many doors, so let’s honor them and prove to them that after all the hard work they did, we can make them proud. We are a generation that is constantly breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles that have restrained us before. I want to be able to inspire other girls to find that power and that strength within them to move forward and to change the perspective that the world has about young girls. But it doesn’t start at school, or in the community, it starts at home. Once you begin to raise your girls to be powerful and to not be afraid to speak their mind, you have created an empowered woman that not only has the power of speech but the strength to change the world like you wouldn’t imagine!