sexta-feira, maio 16, 2014

Pilar: "The struggle of feminism is an universal struggle"

If there is a person engaged with the feminist cause, that's without any doubts Pilar. Active volunteer in everything related with women's rights struggle, she wanted to put some light in a topic sometimes vague and always controversial. So if you want to know a bit more about feminism, you just need to keep reading.

- When and how did your interest in feminism start?
I think that I've always been interested in feminism. When I was a child my models were women, not men, and when I decided to focus my education in the social field my interest became even bigger. One of the areas we work in as social workers is gender equality, so I am interested in deepening my knowledge about what I can do as an educator in that field, what kind of projects are being developed and what type of measures exist. In 2012 I came to Lisbon to work in UMAR, which is an important women association, and I completely realized and reaffirmed that my engagement with feminism was total.

- How was your experience in UMAR?
 I came the first time thanks to a European project called DIJE, which consisted in an internship to check how equality measures were implemented in a real association. The association was UMAR, and I loved it because they are very important in the national level. The work they do is really large, from education in schools to human traffic, gender violence or equality among seniors. And my workmates were amazing, they always supported me a lot, so in 2013 I came again to make my Leonardo da Vinci with them. I took part in the project ISI, and my tasks were related with documentation and registration of bibliographic and filmographic resources and pedagogic materials, organization of events for abused women's children and assistance to seminars, courses and debates related with the issues UMAR was working on. I learnt a lot from my co-workers, from their energy and their peaceful revolutionary spirit. I learnt that the struggle can and must be done, so now I am still a volunteer with them and I try to be a link between UMAR and ALEM, where I am doing my EVS project, transferring my previous learnings to my lessons with the girls in the school where I work now.

- What is feminism for you? Why do you thing it is necessary?
For me, feminism is a movement defending the equality between genders, the real equality of opportunities and rights between women and men. There are many types of feminism and many ways to be a feminist, but it is above all a common struggle shared by men and women, it is not something exclusively feminine. Feminism fights against some principles of the patriarchal system which not only discriminate women, but also some men who don't fit the social standards. Patriarchal system is so deeply set in our society that trying to change it is really a hard work. Women were traditionally the most damaged ones by the system and that's why they were the ones starting the struggle, but they are fighting for benefits for the society as an all. And that's why I think that feminism is important and necessary, because without feminism equality cannot exist. As equality doesn't exist itself because of the established patterns, feminism is necessary to fight to achieve that goal.

- What are the biggest prejudices that society has about feminism?
There are a lot of people who are feminist without knowing it and many other people who declare themselves as feminist without being it at all. People saying that women should be in a superior place to men only arouse distrust in society, and that affects the whole movement. The fact of expressing ideas and claiming for rights as nobody had never done before is uncomfortable for the system, so that's why some people tell that feminists are crazy, hysteric and extremist.

- Do you think is easy being a woman? What are for you the biggest dangers for women nowadays?
Personally, because of the family and the society where I grew up, I have never had problems as a woman. But in a general level there are a lot of differences according to the countries. In many societies women are the main target of terrorism just because of the fact that they are women. Then if, besides being a woman they come from a different culture or religion, or have any disability or are single moms, things can be even worse for them. Related with all of that, there are many dangers that women must face, such as forced marriages, human trafficking, female circumcision, gender violence or lack of education. Many girls lose their right to be educated just to benefit their brothers. If the parents need to choose, the girls are always supposed to stay at home, taking care of the house, the father and eventually the husband. This results in feminization of poverty and their economic dependency on men.
 - Regarding these dangers, what are the challenges for feminism to avoid them?
Feminism can be useful to eliminate this huge inequality of opportunities, but the biggest challenge is to be united. I think that all the currents, even if they have different visions, should be together in the struggle, because otherwise is very difficult to achieve a big movement with results. But it is also important to make progress in obtaining a bigger effect, a bigger significance. And for that it is necessary to separate feminism from hembrism, which is the equivalent of machism and something completely negative. I would like the statement "I am a feminist" no longer to be considered something bad.

- What kind of measures should institutions like the EU take in matters of equality?
The most important one is the empowerment of women, with more resources for their education. This is what we know as positive discrimination, and it should be developed in order to get specific opportunities to women and giving them ways to choose, because otherwise all the opportunities would be for men. Providing more and better education is essential, because it is the basis of all the rest. It is also fundamental to implement gender equality programs with effective measures, and it should be introduced as something transversal. We need to think about equality patterns through the experience, not only in a theoretical way. There should be enough financial support to projects and initiatives which facilitate the new genaration's increasing sensitivity about these issues. Social subjects are completely forgotten in the schools, the program is focused in the scientific learnings and not in the life in a society. It would be perfect to include that kind of contents in the texts and in the pedagogy methods.

- Who are the women who inspired you the most?
All the women from my family, because they opened my mind to the world and encouraged me to go after my dreams. Especially my mom, who taught me to be strong. I also admire Mariana Pineda, who was a revolucionary woman who faced the system, Lila Downs, because of the strength that she transmits when she sings and her engagement with the feminist cause, and also Sojourner Truth. But I my heroine is without any doubt Malala. She is amazing, she is corageous and she is strong enough to keep fighting despite of her age and what happened to her. For me, she is the best of the activists.

- And talking now about culture, what book, film and song would are a must see for you?
A book: Todo bajo el cielo, by Matilde Asensi.
A film: Bye, bye Brasil, by Carlos Diegues.
A song: Para Vigo me voy, de Compay Segundo.