The Power of Women Supporting Women

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You may have already heard the buzz surrounding this year’s Miss Peru pageant.

If you haven’t, I encourage you to take this moment to give it a quick Google search. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Are you back? Wasn’t that neat?

To recap, the contestants at this year’s Miss Peru pageant took a valiant stand and used their platform to shed light on some serious issues in their country. Instead of sharing measurements of their bust, waist, and hip sizes (a practice that certainly does not serve anybody, especially not women) the contestants shared statistics of violence against girls and women in Peru. BBC highlighted examples:

-2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years
-13,000 girls suffer from sexual abuse
-25% of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools
-65% of women who hold university degrees are assaulted by their partners
-13,000 women who were victims of trafficking up until 2014

It was eye-opening. It was brave. It was a sad reminder of the largely ignored patterns of abuse that are ongoing in Peru. With the machismo culture so prevalent here, it is no surprise that women not only lack power, but also are consistently oppressed, taken advantage of, and abused. It is cyclical, often the result of familial or intimate partner violence, and authorities frequently fail to bring justice to victims and survivors of such abuse.

But, that is not to say that women are not fighting back.

In South America, more women are speaking out for their loved ones and pushing for social change. Last year, groups of women in Argentina marched against femicide, igniting marches across the continent and in Central America. There are organizations, safe homes, and strong women in powerful positions working to combat these important issues.

The peaceful protest at the Miss Peru pageant was a beautiful display of the kind of progress women are capable of when we use our platforms to uplift and empower one another. Had one contestant decided to protest, the story may not have gone as viral. Because these women stood in solidarity, this story took off and was shared worldwide. Teamwork made all the difference.

Based on my experience over the past four months here in Cusco, I have observed that many women feel they must compete with their fellow mujeres; for jobs, for men, for status, etc. I have observed that, as women get older, they seem to have fewer female friendships and less support for and from one another. It is clear that in the work that we do with our Chicas Dinámicas, one of the most important lessons is teamwork, and with this, learning to befriend and support other girls to achieve common goals, on and off the field.

I hope that this recent global uprising of women speaking out and empowering one another continues to blaze a new trail, one that leads more women to positions of power, to higher platforms of influence, and to equality and justice on a global scale. I hope that the small steps we take each day in our work will continue the pattern of girls supporting girls turned women supporting women.

– Kyla

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