As I read all of the stories that our women leaders from around the world, and Digital Changemaking 101 participants submit as “My Journey” post as their first assignment in this training, I get more inspired to join the conversation and open myself up the same way that all of you have been brave and trusting in sharing your visions, dreams and struggles.
I come from a place that is very complex and contradictory. The rivers, mountains, oceans, deserts and forest feel as somehow we had been rewarded by goddesses. And nonetheless, these resources have been the source of conflicts for decades and even centuries. I was born and raised in Colombia in South America. A country that has seen the devastation and horrors of an undeclared civil war for about 6 decades, but that now is going through the transition of building peace and signing treaties– this is a story for another day.
The macrocosm of the national upheaval is felt in the microcosm of individual families, violence permeates our daily lives and apathy grows as a defense mechanism. Growing up I witness the reflection of that violence within the family and outside of the house – stories for another time as well. Nonetheless, we all were doing our best and I found myself many times in very privileged contexts, where knowledge and education were your tools to get further, not so much monetarily but somehow knowledge was able to bridge many gaps – gender, economic, social, etc. I witnessed very strong women leading the way in government, politics, business and community development, but this was not the case for many women in the country; women with less access to education and representation stay behind. And in particular women and people of our indigenous communities, who have been the most affected by internal war and armed conflict. The conflict has torn down infrastructures and systems for self-representation and community development, making women and girls vulnerable and pushing them to a state of mere survival.
However, I keep witnessing, even from afar, that more generations of strong women keep taking on very strong stands for the reconstruction of the nation and communities. This gives me hope and inspires me to continue working on facilitating spaces for mutual understanding. Now, fast-forward to a life as an immigrant in the USA, where I have dedicated my passion to making voices of immigrants and refugees heard in a local and national arenas. Working to make an inclusive new home, an adoptive home that many times does not see the complexities and abundance that each unique individual brings, with the knowledge of centuries of self-reliant civilizations in their pockets.
Time and time again, I have worked in networks of very compassionate and talented individuals who want to make more equitable communities. Not very easy or gentle work, but very rewarding. I’ve used my ability to facilitate dialogues and action plans with marginalized groups and politicians, with artists offering solutions to needs in communities, and now reaching a global community as part of the World Pulse team. I envision that I could support the opening of avenues for women to use their resources, strengths and knowledge to find the best solutions that make sense for their own lives. There has been many instances that I have been doubted in my adoptive nation for the only fact of being a women and a foreigner, where people have made assumptions of my abilities or feelings and those times only just strengthen my believe in that you are the only one who can tell me who you are, that each one of us can voice the change needed and that we can work on it together with compassion and mutual respect. Now my toolbox has expanded with all of you, with a global outreach of infinite knowledge and creativity.