Interview with Mónica Schraer
President nu3 Board of Directors
1. The main instruments in human rights matters stipulate that discrimination due to reasons of sex must stop. However, at present there are still important gaps and violations of the rights of women and girls in all the regions of the world. Why must we continue working for equality of rights?
Inequality between the sexes has existed forever. The marginalization to which women have been submitted is a violation of human rights. Feminist movements are the result of this infringement on women’s rights, and they have provided a path to equality, a way of generating human values forged within the family.
Starting with education, where chauvinist men have privileges and women are submerged into submission and to limited activities, without opportunities to evolve.
2. Is it possible that due to the education we receive at home and the cultural context in which we have grown, women are also chauvinist and for this reason we allow violations against ourselves?
Women are not chauvinist; some of us have evolved, we have built our own model of rights, respect and human development. On the contrary, there are other women that unfortunately have not had the possibility of evolving and come to the realization that they are equal to men. In most homes, the men are the ones that work; they produce the money. Women have to take care of the children, complying their role as a mother, in charge of home activities and keeping an eye on her children’s education. For this reason, men, by bringing sustenance establish their superiority by thinking: I am the one bringing in the money, therefore I am the one that manages such funds. This, in many cases forces women to pay him homage; to feel she is dependent.
Today, women are gaining awareness that they cannot only comply with their role as a mother and housewife, but that they have the virtues and capabilities (at the same level as that of men) to be able to obtain things through their own means, to produce and become an active persons within society.
If the governments could give an economic incentive to women as a retribution for their work at home, the situation would be different. I think that the work at home is exhausting, useful and of great importance for society. Therefore it should receive support from the government, not only by granting maternity licenses, but as a recognition to an active and productive member of society.
I consider that women are in a period of evolution, of education, of gaining awareness that we have our own values with which we can perform any social role.
There is a mistaken belief that women are feminists. No! This is about obtaining equal values and rights that would allow us to have equal access to multiple possibilities.
Women have to work very hard. Today many women are submitted to violence; children are abused and in most cases they remain silent and do not report these crimes for fear, because they feel guilty for these abuses, forcing them to bear this suffering in silence and without any type of support.
3. In some countries there is still discrimination. Women do not participate in politics under the same conditions as men. They face discrimination in the labor market and in the access to economic goods, even putting their lives in danger and denying their most basic rights. How can we work in a world that would be more egalitarian for women and children, based on empathy and sorority?
We have to remember that fortunately, at present there are cultures in other parts of the world that have become aware that matters associated with gender equality must work properly; we see that women’s roles have taken center stage. And we can observe how men are now doing work at home and are committed to involving themselves in their children matters and daily activities. This is a great example of how equality is healthy and possible; that equality represents a society and based on that we can build models of stronger values, where everyone’s worth is the same.
One of the ways to demonstrate to the world that we can change the reality is the example we give as human beings. Through our most simple actions we can continue building a new reality, focused in respecting the values of everyone else and our own values. We can flourish if we support each other, prioritizing the education and values instilled at home, preventing the infringement of our rights.
The work carried out by nu3 in the communities has allowed us to become aware of the reality present in the daily lives of the families. Something very real and strange happens with teenagers; on the one side teenage girls are told that if they are going to have sexual relations, they have to be careful and take care; on the contrary teenage boys are not included in sexual education matters, they are completely free to enjoy their sexuality.
We must not forget that sexuality is the responsibility of both. In nu3 we have a sexual mentoring and education program, called “Pesnu3”, through which we promote and guide the sexual education of youngsters in all the communities in which we are present. Here, youngsters of both sexes participate in an equal manner in all the educational activities that we carry out.
A teenage pregnancy is not only a woman’s matter, it also involves men and therefore the responsibility lies in both. It is here where equality starts, where we become aware that sexual and reproductive rights not only involve women, but also men.
We know that when a woman is sexually violated or abused, she feels guilty and thinks that somehow she provoked it. Previously, society was used to denigrating women for the simple fact of dressing in a flirty manner. This behavior led to many violations and infringements of the feminine gender, affecting their physical and mental stability.
In nu3 we promote equality for everyone and we value each person’s capabilities; there is no room for rejection or a damaging manifestation for any human being.
4. The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan has aroused indignation and concern around the world. It is impossible to keep quiet in this respect and not having the desire of acting or reacting. What can we do to decrease discrimination of women around the world? How can we speak out?
The situation experienced at present in Afghanistan is dramatic and somehow it touches our heart, because we are experiencing similar situations in Colombia. We must be emphatic with what is happening in that country regarding women, children and all the persons that are suffering due to the situation they are facing.
Unfortunately, women are the most vulnerable parties in this viciousness. Our country will welcome a group of this population as immigrants and therefore we must support them, because we are, just like them, human beings, who are constantly searching for freedom and a better future for our families.
This is a situation that is very familiar to Colombians; we daily experience violations of human rights and thanks to organizations such as nu3, we can give new hope to many persons by carrying out social activities in the pursuit of social transformation.
Equality is a path that we must travel together. It is so important to really take a look at our surroundings and identify the behaviors that go against the value of women, children or men and work in the promotion of education in values, where respect will prevail. And to women, ask them from our hearts: Is somebody ill-treating you? Are you being disrespected? Are you being yelled at? Do they devalue you?
Speak out! Do not allow that situation, act and share it. Together we can fight for our fundamental right to live freely!