International Women’s Day

An equal world is an enabled world
By Eva Cruz Peña

March 8 is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year’s campaign is #eachforequal. We asked four Rochester women of diverse nationalities to reflect on the phrase, “An equal world is an enabled world,” and to share their responses in their native languages.

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual

Chao Mwatela Kenya (Swahili)
Chao has lived in Rochester for 11 years.
Nilopokuwa msichana mdogo, mama yangu aliniambia kuwa naweza kukua kuwa chochote ninachotaka kuwa, na chochote nilichofanya kazi kwa bidii kuwa. Nilizungukwa na wanawake wengi wenye ujuzi, waliofaulu na waliofanikiwa. Yote nilioambiwa, niliamini, na nilifanya bidii na matuamaini ya kufaulu kwa kila kitu. Lakini, hakuna kitu kilichoniandaa kwa upweke wa kuwa msichana wa pekee kwa masomo ya chuo kikuu, ama msukosuko wa ndani wa kuelewa ujinsia, au bidii ya kufika usawa wa kazi na kazi ya mama mzazi. Nilipofika umri wa mwanamke mzima, niligundua kuwa mashauri ya mama yangu yalikua kweli, na pia uwongo. Ni kweli, wasichana wanaweza kukuwa kuwa wanawake wanaofaulu katika eneo lolote. Wasichana wengi wako tayari kufanikiwa ulimwenguni, lakini dunia haiko tayari kwetu. Shule zetu, tamaduni za kazini na mahusiano lazima zibadilike pia, ili wanawake waweze kufika uwezo na matumaini yao. Maoendeleo hayo yote yote yatakapofaulu, dunia yote itafaulu.

English translation:
As a young girl, my mother told me that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be, and whatever I worked hard for. I was surrounded by smart and successful women. I believed them and forged through life prepared to attain, well, everything. Nothing prepared me for the loneliness of a male-dominated college major, the inner turmoil of understanding sexism or the never-ending quest of attaining a career-motherhood balance. I crash-landed into adulthood and realized that what my mother told me is both true and false. It is possible for girls to grow into women successful in any area. Most girls are ready for the world, but the world is not ready for us. Our schools, workplace culture, and relationships must evolve as well for women to reach their full potential. When that happens, what a benefit it will be to the entire world!

Sujatha Nair Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia, Malay)
Suja has lived in Rochester MN for 5 years.
Walaupun bagus untuk mengerti dan bersetuju bahawa setiap individu bertanggungjawab keatas pemikiran dan perjalanan hidup masing-masing, adalah lebih penting untuk menyedari bahawa ketidaksamaan gender adalah suatu topik perbahasan yang sedang meningkat.

Dalam dunia hari ini, kita melihat lebih ramai wanita melibatkan diri didalam situasi yang ‘maskulin’ seperti menjadi pemimpin didalam berbagai bidang pekerjaan termasuk politik. Walaupun sedemikian lebih banyak lagi yang boleh diperusahakan bagi mencapai hak kesaksamaan.

Kesaksamaan gender merupakan salah satu hak asasi kita sebagai manusia. Hak untuk hidup secara terhormat, bebas dari rasa ketakutan dan berhak menentukan pilihan hidup.

Budaya memainkan peranan penting di dalam situasi sebegini. Saya terdiri daripada golongan wanita dimana budaya memberikan kita peranan cuma sebagai ‘pelengkap’ kepada seorang lelaki. Sudah tentunya budaya boleh dipersalahkan dan kita berdiam diri tetapi sudah tiba masa kita bersuara dan menyoal budaya dan situasi yang menyenyapkan wanita.

Kesedaran harus dipupuk dikalangan wanita bahawa mereka harus meningkatkan kualiti pendidikan dan perancangan karier yang setara dengan lelaki.  Apabila kesedaran ini tercapai, secara tidak langsung perubahan akan berlaku dan isu kesaksamaan gender tidak akan menjadi tajuk perbincangan.

Kesedaran positif masa kini adalah pergabungan berbagai organisasi diseluruh dunia menyokong isu kesaksamaan. Ini secara langsung telah memberi wanita peluang untuk bersuara.

Kita sebagai wanita harus sentiasa bersama-sama berusaha keras menuju keaarah kesaksamaan bagi diri sendiri dan generasi akan datang.  Saya bertanggapan bahawa dengan adanya kesaksamaan, dimana semua gender diberi peluang yang setara, maka akan terdapat lebih banyak idea. Ia akan mengeratkan hubungan manusia, tanpa mengira kaum, agama dan gender. Dunia ini akan menjadi lebih progresif, maju dan aman. Tidakkah itu tanggungjawab kita? 

English translation:
Although we know and agree that every human being is responsible for his or her own destiny and thoughts, inequality is still a rising topic of concern. More women are in traditionally ‘masculine’ positions as executives and politicians. However, there is more to be done.

Equality is a fundamental human right. A right to live free of fear and free to determine life’s choices. I come from a culture where women are expected to abide by ‘rules’ and are looked upon mainly as a complement to a man. If one chooses to blame the culture but continues to abide by it, nothing will change. It’s time to question these ‘rules’ and cultural expectations that indirectly silence women, understanding that there is a global need to increase education, career planning and self-confidence so that women are and feel equal to men.

There are many organizations globally coming together in support of equality. This has given a platform for women to raise their voices and be heard. As women, we should work together toward equality for ourselves and for future generations. I believe that equality brings us together regardless of race, religion or gender. The world will be a more progressive and peaceful place to live. Isn’t that our responsibility as Human Beings?

Sylwia Bujak Oliver Poland (Polish)
Sylwia has lived in Rochester for 8 years.
Nie urodzilismy sie wiedzac jak zyc, jak traktowac innych, jak sie zachowywac i jak byc dobrym czlowiekiem.

Tego wszystkiego uczymy sie przez cale zycie. Bardzo wierze, ze musimy otwarcie rozmawiac o wszystkich niefajnych moralnie i etycznie sprawach. Musimy komunikowac sie nie tylko dlaczego cos sie wydarzylo, ale takze musimy miec odwage, zeby to zmienic. Zeby walczyc z niesprawiedliwoscia musimy edukowac i umacniac glosy tych, ktorzy sa nie rowno traktowani.

Ta edukacja zaczyna sie od samego siebie poprzez uczciwa analize wlasnych zachowan, sterotypowania i wyciagania podswiadomych wnioskow o innej plci, religii i narodowosciach.

Zeby cokolwiek zmienic i zaleczyc rany, to my musimy wyciagac rece i zaprosic innych, w miejsce gdzie wszyscy sa mile widziani i traktowani z szacunkiem i cierpliwoscia.

English Translation:
We are not born knowing how to survive, treat others, behave, or how to be a decent person. This is a life long skill. I’m a strong believer that we all need to be able to have an open line of communication about things that are not right morally & ethically. We need to be able to discuss not only the outcome but whys and to have the courage to commit to change. In order to fight any bias, we need to educate, empower and amplify the underrepresented voices.

This education starts within, honestly assessing our own behaviors, potential stereotyping, and unconscious assumptions about different genders, religions, races, etc.

The healing process starts with inclusion, patience, and kindness in a place where everyone is welcome.

Eva Cruz Pena Puerto Rico (Spanish) 
Eva has lived intermittently in Rochester for 10 years.
Crecí en una cultura rodeada de machismo, donde a los hombres se les otorgaban libertades ilimitadas y se posicionaban por encima de las mujeres. La mayoría de las veces, las mujeres tenían que dejar sus sueños y aspiraciones al servicio de sus esposos e hijos. Mientras crecía en esta cultura, mi abuela y mi madre me modelaron un ambiente diferente. Ellas eligieron perseguir sus sueños y ganar una vida independiente de sus cónyuges. Su sueño para mí era romper con la tradición, inculcando en mí un amor por la libertad, la educación y la independencia financiera. Crecí sabiendo que tenía el poder de elegir, perseguir mis sueños y sustentarme a mí misma. Ante sus ojos, yo era igual a los hombres. Mirando hacia atrás, el contraste entre mi entorno inmediato y la cultura dominante influyó en mi pasión por trabajar con mujeres, para guiarlas a encarnar su verdad: que son seres soberanos con el poder de elegir.

El mundo ha demostrado ser inconsistente al proporcionar los medios y oportunidades para que las mujerxs sean consideradas en calidad egalitaria a los hombres. Pero las mujerxs tienen el poder innato de crear. Y podemos elegir crear y hacer posible un mundo donde todxs tengan el mismo acceso para perseguir sueños y alcanzar sus metas. Cuando eso suceda nuestro mundo, será igual y posible para todxs. 

English Translation:
I grew up in a culture surrounded by ‘machismo’, where men were granted unlimited liberties and positioned above women. More often than not women had to lay down their dreams and aspirations in service to their husbands and children. While I did grow up in this culture, my grandma and my mom modeled a different environment for me.  They chose to pursue their dreams and earned a living independent from their spouses. Their hope for me was to break away from tradition, instilling a love for freedom, education and financial independence. I grew up knowing I had the power to choose, to pursue my dreams, and to stand on my own.  In their eyes, I was equal to men.  Looking back, the contrast between my immediate environment and the dominant culture influenced my passion to work with women, to guide them to embodying their truth- that they are Sovereign beings with the power to choose.

The world has proven inconsistent in providing the means and opportunities for women to be considered of the same quality as men.  But women have the innate power to create anew.  And we can choose to make possible a world where everyone has equal access to pursuing dreams and achieving their goals. When that happens our world, will be equal and enabled.