This article was written as a compulsory assignment for the Voices of Our Future Contest http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/programs/voices-of-our-future
"Come on! Apples aren’t for pigs! Are you really thinking you’d even have a chance in that school? Are you nuts? Go and bother somebody else!” – Ms Cabrera, the principal’s assistant, told me. I needed his nomination for a full scholarship at one of the most prestigious, and expensive, universities in Mexico. My school was a very large public institution where the students were referred as hopeless garbage. I waited six hours until I met the Principal. I ended up having full scholarship at the University of the Americas-Puebla sponsored by Volkswagen Mexico, the Hewlet foundation and the Jenkins Foundation. This is my testimony of how education changes Mexican women’s destiny.
It was worth to wait Mr Campos for hours. I was there on behalf of all the women of my life; I was not going to give up, was I? I inherited three great treasures. First, my Grandma Beatriz’ conviction, who praised her religious beliefs even at the risk of her own liberty. Second, my mom Claudia’s perseverance and her democratic values, she has always told me: “whatever you undertake, get it done the best you can, even if it seems small and effortless”. And third, the Catita’s spirit which supposes discipline and education as the most powerful tool in life. Think of these wonderful women. How come they did not get a University diploma? My generation was the first which more than basic needs were covered, where women and men were raised equally.
Poor education and health systems, poverty, lack of confidence and inequality beliefs are still constraining thousands of Claudias, Beatrices and Catitas from being able to have better quality of life. How did I overcome these challenges? My dad provided us a very decent life, so I didn’t have to use the public health services and grew up healthy. Even, if I went to public schools in a small town, I was a curious girl demanding a lot of attention. So, my mom was also nurturing us intellectually. Extra school work was mandatory at home. At a very early age, I had red many books and my curiosity just got bigger. In a country where lack of confidence -Ms Cabrera’s thinking- defeats almost anybody, my mom didn´t take “I can´t” for a valid answer. And finally, my dad changed his macho beliefs for a culture where boys and girls have to be treated and educated under the same care and standards. This is how in two generations my family has gone from extreme poverty to empowered and educated women.
I must also mention, I have had invaluable academic opportunities sponsored by private or foreign entities. As I have pointed out in previous articles, health and education will certainly make the perfect formula to assure a better destiny for the future Mexican voices. Mexico has the same universal constraints than many other places. Guaranteeing basic needs and rights remains a huge challenge for the government; and the society is not yet convinced to assume its responsibility on this lack of commitment. “Who does not con, does not make progress” is the anticipated public officials’ pillar principle; being incorruptible is considered to being foolish. Such premises also portray the high acceptance towards corruption amongst the population; anyone may incidentally have the chance to work for the government and will certainly take personnel advantage of the opportunity. Thinking of potential gains might explain why this practice is not fiercely contested. I wrote my master thesis about this phenomena when I graduated from the University of Western Ontario sponsored by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE).
On my own experience, the key to transform our realities is still based on training and educating committed young women; who have shown interest in community issues. My Hungarian alma mater, Central European University (CEU) sponsored by the Open Society Foundation gave us the best education for free and we were asked to go back home in order to reproduce what we got. CEU has created a generation of leaders who are transforming and leading better places to live. For example, the first Romani at the European Parliament; the first woman lawyer in the Tibet; or, myself, I am devoted to guarantee the best available right to health for Latin American children through the launching of a continental network for prevention of illnesses that can cause disabilities. Imagine what more CEUs training Klaudias could do for our countries! So, let us engage more organizations and civil society in educational programs and scholarships.
Another key to change Mexico’s destiny is to start thinking “apples are for everybody!” and never stop children from dreaming; but encouraging them to attain what seemed to be out of their reach. Men supporting and caring for women, women encouraging girls and boys, and, children transforming the world; this is what will change our destinies for good.
Klaudia González Red Nacional para la Prevención de la Discapacidad The National Network for Disability Preventionhttp://renapred.org.mxGirls Transform the World 2013