My activism is my struggle and my joy, my battle and my peace, the way I live and the air I breath. As a university professor I theorize about women's issues, and as a community activist I put my theories and ideas to work to improve the lives of women. This is not easy, though. Combining teaching and community activism is an immense task. Teaching requires 24 hours a day and community activism another 24 hours a day. I quit teaching for a year so I could fully engage working for women's rights outside the academic world. Now that I am back to teaching I feel the same pressure I felt before, but it has turned into a sweet pressure that motivates me every second of my life.
I created classes for the University of Wisconsin-Madison that show my activism and my dedication to women's rights such as "Global Women's Heatlh and Human Rights" "Sex Work, Sex Trafficking and Human Rights." It is extremely rewarding to see how many of my students have changed majors to become more involved with women's lives and women's issues. Right now, I have students working all over the world; I will encourage them to become members of the WorldPulse.
In my community I am currently working with several non-profit organizations and with the state of Wisconsin for projects on women's reproductive health—with sex workers to protect their human rights; with victims of sex trafficking to create a comprehensive model of service in the state of Wisconsin, I am also writing part of the Wisconsin Protocol on Human Trafficking for the Office of Justice Assistance; with Latino women to prevent uterine cancer and to detect breast cancer in the early stages of development. Along with two wonderful and powerful colleagues, I am also running a project for female genital cutting called I AM NOT CUT; visit the website (in progress) www.iamnotcut.com. This project includes the production of several mini-documentaries where women, and men, can share their anonymous written testimonies on female genital cutting, and/or record 10 seconds of themselves or others saying variations of "I am not cut", a young lady would say "I am cut, but my younger sister is not cut" or a mother saying "I am cut, but my daughters are not cut" or a midwife saying "I used to cut, but now I don't cut."
The international community is also my community. On May 16 I will go to Kampala to work with the Family Planning Association of Uganda to study a program that targets the youth and the street prostitutes of Kampala for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. After that I am going to Kenya to work with the Somali Youth Forum on issues of female genital mutilation. Before coming back to the United States, I will go to my country of origin, Spain, to work with the non-profit organization Al-hanan on issues of sex trafficking in Barcelona.
All this activism plus raising an adolescent daughter who is my life and trying to be a good partner for my husband and a good sister for my brother and a good friend for my friends and... Life is not easy BUT IT'S WONDERFUL!!!!
Blessings and much joy for all of you. Araceli