Author Cindy Zavala is UnidosUS’s Education Program Coordinator.
Each year the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the Girl, “to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” The origins of the holiday began nearly 25 years ago in Beijing, China, at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Determined to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights, that historic conference initiated history’s most comprehensive policy agenda for women’s empowerment.
UnidosUS’s Entre Mujeres program is a Latina-focused initiative that works to address the pressing needs impacting the lives of young Latinas. The ultimate mission of Entre Mujeres is to empower Latina high schoolers to recognize their personal worth, strengthen their leadership abilities and self-confidence, and help drive them to make change in their communities and beyond. This October 11, the 2019-2020 Entre Mujeres Cohort celebrated the International Day of the Girl.
“The International Day of the Girl should be celebrated in Entre Mujeres because it reinforces the power of females, but also highlights the struggle of girls that are marginalized in other cultures and need advocates to raise awareness,” says Kim V. Ruiz, Entre Mujeres Instructor at UnidosUS Affiliate Puerto Rican Association of Human Development (PRAHD).
“Growing up girls go through many adversities so it’s very important to empower them and show them they aren’t alone on International Day of the Girl, ” says Vanessa V., a ninth grade Entre Mujeres student from PRAHD at Perth Amboy High School.
At UnidosUS Affiliate Tejano Center for Community Concerns, the Entre Mujeres class planned on celebrating the International Day of the Girl by creating a banner with different powerful words and pictures of themselves and their classmates, instead of highlighting the various powerful Latinas and celebrities. “International Girl Day makes me feel that I matter, and I’m sure I’m not the only girl that feels like that. It should be celebrated to recognize girl empowerment and the many things girls can achieve” said Ashley Alvarado, ninth grade Entre Mujeres student at Tejano Center for Community Concerns.
Each year, Entre Mujeres participate in events that are focused on women empowerment and not just holidays like the International Day of the Girl. For example, this year the Entre Mujeres class at UnidosUS Affiliate Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, Inc. (CLUES) wrote letters to former First Lady Michelle Obama asking her to stop at their site for her book tour. A few weeks later, CLUES staff received a call saying that Mrs. Obama and her team had been touched by the students’ letters and wanted to extend an invitation for five students to attend her speech at the Xcel Energy Center on March 13, 2019.
Entre Mujeres has served more than 300 Latina high school students since UnidosUS launched the program in 2016 with the support of UPS. Attending events like former First Lady Michelle Obama’s book signing and celebrating holidays like International Day of the Girl helps motivate and inspire the young Latinas of Entre Mujeres. UnidosUS is excited to see everything these young Latinas will accomplish this school year.
For more information about Entre Mujeres, please contact Cindy Zavala, Education Program Coordinator, at [email protected].