María José Acosta, an International Business student at Tec de Monterrey’s Santa Fe campus, has joined the United Nations (UN) ‘Girl Up’ initiative, which accompanies young women on their way to becoming leaders and agents of change through specialized programs on gender issues and skills training on activism, organizing and fundraising.
Her motivation arose from her experiences on a robotics team at high school, breaking the social paradigm that these types of topics are exclusively for men. After three years, Acosta became the team president.
The problem is the patriarchy
“The biggest problem that I see in our country is the patriarchy. We follow a binary phallogocentric line of thought where there isn’t room for everyone. It’s necessary to start creating spaces where everyone feels comfortable and safe. The first step is to make our voices heard. Trying to raise awareness about macho thoughts and attitudes that we have to change. With this, the great problem we are experiencing becomes visible,” Acosta said in an interview with Tec Review.
María José says that the UN initiative was born from the idea of achieving true gender equality and equity, which is why she states they should focus on children and adolescents to generate a fundamental change.
“Girl Up is one of the best opportunities to have come my way. My inner child has the chance to be proud of the woman I am now. It’s the best way I have found to raise my voice and shout for all the girls and women that we need every day,” she added.
How can we make progress in the area of equality and equity?
Although the world’s female population is larger, according to the World Bank, only six countries grant the same economic rights to men and women: Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Sweden, and Luxembourg.
Acosta states that although the issue of gender equality is progressing slowly and requires different forces so that equal opportunities are a tangible reality, regulatory and legal reforms are the first step to achieving the goal, as well as opportunities for women in various spaces.
“Giving them spaces so that they can develop as leaders. This is something I am most grateful to Tec de Monterrey for. From high school, I had the opportunity to show that I was capable. I am also grateful to my teachers who believed in me and who were involved in my development and growth,” said María José, after acknowledging that it took a long time to find her voice and speak up in favor of the cause.
Finally, Acosta stressed the importance of listening and being empathic with the stories of others.
“There is an urgency for these movements to take off because together we are stronger. We are all in a process of deconstruction and for this, we have to be willing to listen to stories, be empathetic and patient with the processes of others,” she added.