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Agents of Change

Agents of Change

Bárbara
 
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This past week I have been questioned quite a bit about my role as a woman in Guatemala-  as a public woman who does have a respectable audience and influence in the community. These questions have been haunting me lately, leaving me to wonder if I simply am not doing enough.

I don't think I have spoken much about the beginning of this blog, the meaning of its title and the reasons why I started it. But to make a long story short, the THW started as a casual way to stay in touch with my friends in Boston and keep my mind distracted while learning to be more "domesticated" as a newlywed. Since being a housewife was never something I personally aspired to become, I was horrible at it and had no guidance what-so-ever on how, or where to start. Never, in a million years, did I think that this fun, little blog I created was going to grow outside my circle of friends, becoming the most visited lifestyle blog in Guatemala. Never. Once it started to grow, I had to figure out how to manage it as I went. I never started this blog with the intention of profiting from it or targeting a certain group of women in society. Everything kind of just...happened. And I had to learn how to deal with it the best way I knew how- sometimes facing a lot of negativity, cut-throat criticism and even threats.

I know that with success comes a lot of responsibility. And it has come to my attention that since I live in a country with one of the highest rates of violence against women and "machismo", I have a responsibility of speaking out through my blog, inspiring women around the country to head towards change and standing up for the rights that are rightfully theirs. My close friends and family all know this: I am a feminist. I stand up for women's rights and equality, and I do so with pride. I believe that we were all created equal regardless of gender, race, color, status or sexual orientation and I live by those values. I live by them and I believe in them with my heart and soul. As a feminist, liberal and a woman who has proudly lived independently from her parents since the age of 17, abandoning my job, my stable salary, my life and friends, and moving to Guatemala to become a housewife was a tough decision but it was a decision made entirely by choice- MY choice. However, both my husband and I knew that I could not remain a housewife for long...I just couldn't. I liked my financial independence too much and was way too stubborn. Plus, one of the things my husband loved and admired the most about me was my independence. Seeing how highly supportive he was of me, regardless of which life path I took, guiding me and, at times, even challenging and pushing me to be even better at my job, has brought us even closer together. Needless to say, the idea of me becoming a housewife was difficult for him to digest as well. During our first year in Guatemala he worried about my mental well-being, constantly calling me from work to make sure I was OK and wasn't bored out of my mind.

Through this blog, I do try to speak out by being honest about certain issues and expressing my personal opinion about what are often considered "controversial" topics that we are just "not supposed to talk about" here. Actually, there have been people (men and women) who have approached me to say that I like to "instigate controversy" and "provoke problems". And as my faithful readers have witnessed through the comments section of this blog, speaking about such matters is not easy and is often met with a lot of friction- friction that can, sometimes, cause emotional damage. Although I consider myself to be a pretty strong person, I am still human, after all, and there are certain things that, apparently, can still get through my recently-developed thick skin. So, before publishing my "Thought of The Day" posts, I have to mentally prepare myself, meditating and thinking 3 times before I hit that "send" button. I have made a promise to myself and to you, that no matter how tough or negative the feedback gets, I will not give up. I won't give up because I have fought too hard to be where I am and there are too many people whose lives depend on women like me, like us. I need to remain strong for them- and for me.

However, the responsibility isn't only mine, it's YOURS too! In the almost 4 years that I've lived in Guatemala I have found many ways to contribute, help and change people's lives. Not only by doing the fundraisers that I have done with the blog, but with small, everyday actions as well. I believe that it is every woman's responsibility to lead and live by example. If you want the lives of women in Guatemala to improve- if you want the violence agaisnt them to end- you have to start with yourself. If you own a publication that is directed towards women, talk about these issues, advise and be an inspiration to them as well. At home, raise your sons and daughters to respect each other and see each other as equals. If you own a company, think about your women employees and how you treat them- do they have the same benefits as the men? What's your maternity leave policy? Can you provide an in-office daycare for their young children? There are infinite ways to implement positive changes in your community. The responsibility isn't only mine...it's everyone's. I can be writing thousands of articles a month in hopes to inspire women out there, but guess what? My words will mean nothing if you aren't open to them. You need to want this change enough in order to welcome it, talk about it, act upon it, and be agents of change yourselves.

Until next time!