Creating Desirable Futures in my Community

Maria Clara Magalhães
Posted September 15, 2019 from Brazil
Fight like a girl!
Fight like a girl!: I don't remember exactly what I was talking about, but my mom said it was about how diversity matters and how together we can build a better world. aw <3 (1/2)

I grew up in a small town in the interior of Brazil's most violent state, where women are not only raped but also oppressed and most often not taken seriously. Although, I came from a family of very empowered women (even though it is an extremely violent and sexist city). My mother's father was murdered when she was 10 years old and my grandmother raised her children on her own, having to work double and without any support network. Mom grew up in my grandmother's hard line, where women have to be strong out of necessity. When she was 20, she opened her own school in her backyard. I grew up, then, with great female references. I think I was born a warrior and had a very strong temperament as a child.

 

I've gotten into a lot of fighting with the boys at school, mainly because they didn't let me play soccer, play beyblade, or do any other labeled male activity. I had a very strong fierce that always moved me to fight for the rights of girls. When I was 6 years old I really wanted to start training karate and my father didn't allowed because it was “boy thing”, he made a deal that I would do ballet and karate at the same time (my father was afraid of me losing my femininity) and so I started to be the only girl in the karate class. It was very difficult, because the boys took advantage that I could only fight with them, so I lost very badly in class. I felt very strong that I needed to bring some girl friends because together we were stronger, so I convinced some girl classmates and finally we made a women karate team.

 

Throughout my history, there have been several situations that have led me to want a fairer, more feminine world. In college, I joined the Electrical Engineering course, where you live in an extremely masculine environment, very sexist, harassment everywhere, where women are often not taken seriously. And it was at university that my revolution came into light. But as you try to resist, you start creating desirable futures. I started with the Women's Engineering Group (IEEE WIE UFCG) by promoting women engineers and scientists and inspiring girls around the world, pursuing their academic interests in a career in engineering and science. My greatest wish was to bring balance to my engineering course. We electrical engineering students have been bombarded countless times by teachers, classmates, and even our parents who doubted our ability to be engineers. This prejudice had to end. I had a responsibility to give voice because I was one of the only women there. 

 

In the next year, I had an opportunity to start a volunteer experience in the Philippines, where my biggest challenge was living with very different cultures and people. I came to live with 17 girls of different nationalities, with different social realities and different thoughts. Besides learning to live intensely in the present moment, because sometimes there is no water, energy, food ... My biggest learning was improving my empathy skills, learning much more to listen actively and this was the key point to create alternative solutions in the chaos. Also, being unable to give up my ideas and not having access to the ego is what made (a)diversity in being one with everyone.

 

While still in the Philippines, my current business partner Marcela Fujiy, called me asking if I would open a women's accelerator and by the time I freaked out. I had only tried volunteer work and didn't know how I could add, but I accepted it anyway. It's not common to be an entrepreneur at 21. You feel that you don't know anything and being afraid of failure almost made me paralyze, but I threw myself into the experience because my life purpose spoke louder.

 

At that moment a puzzle was being assembled. Returning to Brazil and undertaking social impact business is not easy. I always wanted to live abroad. I thought it would be easier to move to a more developed and safer country. The opportunity to live in the Philippines changed my way of thinking. I saw so many amazing people emigrating from the country and leaving the chaotic islands sinking even more. I feel that I could not do this with my country.

 

When I returned, I came aware that I want to use a lot of knowledge around the globe, but to change the world I start here, with my community, in my northeast. I was returning to Brazil doing several micro-revolutions developing my community, through a mindset of empathy, diversity and inclusion in building new business. An attempt to see the world through the eyes of others, to understand the world through the experiences of others and to feel the world through their emotions. Generating different actions throughout the journey and always with a special focus: positively impact the lives of those around us.

 

Besides Be.Labs Accelerator, I am an ambassador of IRIS project, which is a project that promotes the construction of the desirable future in Brazil, based on gender and women's freedom statistics. We use the power of design to create a positive and intentional future for the freedom of feminine. Thus, IRIS seeks to reach 5 regions of the country, collaborating with people of all genders and creating solutions with immediate positive impact.

 

I am very optimistic about the future. A future where women earn the same as men, where there is parental leave for everyone, where there is no domestic violence. I understood that I build this future by giving voice to girls and women. If I am the only woman in most of the spaces I conquer, then I have to make myself heard so that other girls feel represented and encouraged to do what they dream.

 

My message to all of you is that you have a responsibility to be an active voice in building a better future and to be who you truly are for change happen.

 

This story was submitted in response to GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.

Comments 12

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Anita Shrestha
Sep 15
Sep 15

Dear
Thank you for your hard work.

Jill Langhus
Sep 16
Sep 16

Hi Clara,

Thanks again for sharing your powerful story and work. Good luck with your story submission. I hope many others will be able to enjoy your message and work!

Lisbeth
Sep 16
Sep 16

Thanks for sharing. It's a hard work on your part. Best wishes on your submission.

Millynairi
Sep 17
Sep 17

Hi Maria,
Thanks for sharing. Yes I agree with you that we have a responsibility of being an active voice in building a better future.

Millynairi

Hello, Clara,

It's nice to know you lived in the Philippines. May I know what city? Yes, it's true. Many of my countrymen are immigrating because of several factors most especially the compensation and services here. Aside from that, our country is plagued with countless natural disasters year after year.

Thank you for sharing your story and your message to us.

Merze Tate Explorers

The future is now! Thanks for being a woman who the younger generation will stand on for support and encouragement toward the possibilities that their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

Keep up the good work!
Sonya

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 20
Sep 20

Wow, Maria Clara you are true a born warrior. Agreeing to ballet so you could do karate and bringing girls with you. I love the photo of you in your pink boots with mic in hand. Always taking the tougher road, into study fields kept from us, taking every challenge, fine tuning to "doing several micro-revolutions developing my community...
always with a special focus: "...positively impact the lives of those around us". A big welcome to World Pulse. You remind me of all that is possible.
If I am the only woman in most of the spaces I conquer, then I have to make myself heard so that other girls feel represented and encouraged to do what they dream.

Beth Lacey
Sep 21
Sep 21

Yes, we must all actively participate in order to make change

maeann
Oct 06
Oct 06

Helo Maria Clara,
That is nice to hear that you were able to live in the Philippines. We hope to hear how and what you have learned living on this island and what is your take away.

Nabila Abbas
Oct 06
Oct 06

Thanks for sharing your powerful voice with us :)

Kadi_lokule
Oct 08
Oct 08

You are a fighter and i would like to encourage you to mentor girls in your community. Your story is infectious and i am sure many young ladies will get to be inspired by it as much as i have been. Cheers

Jamie Rice
Oct 11
Oct 11

Maria Clara, thank you and I appreciate the hard work you do and your incredible, positive message!