Women Who Inspire

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: June 1st, 2022

In a digital and globalized world where everything moves so fast, it is essential to have references, especially female ones. It is also key for slower and more conscious human development, to have access to life stories that cross-cultural and gender barriers for their sincerity, courage, and sensibility.

The families Lewis and Freeman during the event.

On Wednesday, May 25, we inaugurated Dr. Beatrice E. Lewis “Women Who Inspire” Lecture Series, focused on mobilizing others through the stories of different women. These events are made possible by the Dr. Beatrice E. Lewis Women’s Fund, established by her family to honor her legacy and her life, dedicated to inspiring others, primarily women. Her family joined us for the event to witness the words and music of five powerful women.

Women’s Circle

The members of the Women’s Circle, a space for reflection, dialogue and sorority created in 2019, were part of the organization of the conference and had the opportunity to tell all the spectators about the importance of the Circle within the University to generate a network of support from respect, tolerance, and love.

We were fortunate to have the presence of graduate Gina Borrero (‘01, Colombia), Guatemalan singer-songwriter Sara Curruchich, former Costa Rican congresswoman Silvia Hernández, singer and composer Maf É Tula (María Fernanda Sáenz) and musician and cultural manager Anyul Arévalo.

We share with you some of their reflections:

Rescuing seeds, generating more life

Portrait of Gina.

Gina Borrero has dedicated her career to socio-productive projects in indigenous and rural communities. She specializes in resource management, waste management, agroecology, soil microbiology, and garden design, among others. In sharing her story, she emphasized the importance of giving others access to education, gender equity, and agrochemical-free seeds and water.

“I do what I am passionate about: planting, caring for the land, rescuing seeds, producing more life; reaching people who for multiple reasons don’t have access to education. Where I work, women manage to learn about organic agriculture, some without knowing how to read or write. I have worked for five years as an organic agriculture teacher: medicinal crops, organic fertilizers, and seeds; all this has given me the opportunity to meet women who have allowed me to understand that in this world we need more people with values and principles, who promote life, the health of Pachamama, the diversity of seeds, relationships with microorganisms. At this time when everything I have experienced makes sense, I want to continue working for people, for the restoration of agroecological systems, and for food sovereignty. That is the origin of my life project, which I named Campo Alegre,” Gina said with a serene and firm voice.

Embracing our identity

Portrait of Sara.

Sara Curruchich is the first indigenous Guatemalan songwriter to sing in Kaqchikel, her mother tongue. Her voice and her message of love, awareness, respect and defense of life have made her a source of hope for many people, mainly indigenous women who consider her a reference. Sara shared her words with the entire EARTH community and shared her songs and music, accompanied by her band.

Sara’s presentation with her wonderful band.

“Who are we, who are you? The fact of naming us as a seed, as hope, already means that we can generate a transcendental change, not only for us, who are converging in this space and in this time, but as a significant change to our communities and for all the places we can reach. Let us not give in, silence is a beautiful thing when it is our decision, but not when it is an imposition. We take hold of the word because it belongs to us, it has belonged to our grandmothers and to the people. We take hold of the word because it is our right, because to take it is to do justice. There is so much to learn, so much to sow, so much to weave and so much to articulate. That is one of the greatest teachings of the Earth itself: the articulation between the roots of the trees that support the mountains. We are root, we are seed, we are a fabric that expands and flourishes,” said Sara.

Y somos todas (And we are all)

Anyul and Maf É Tulá.

Anyul Arévalo knew from a very young age that she wanted to dedicate to music, and very specifically to percussion. She is a music teacher, activist, researcher, producer and cultural manager. She coordinates the Feminist Percussion Ensemble Tocá el Tambó, a pedagogical and interdisciplinary proposal that has allowed her to weave a community of creative women. Maf É Tulá makes music because for her, music is life. She has traveled to many countries sharing her compositions, which address issues such as mental health, children’s rights and women’s struggle. Together they composed the song “Y somos todas”, as part of a campaign, led by the International Education Network of Latin America (IEAL), to raise awareness of Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization, which talks about the right to safe workplaces, free of violence and harassment.

Both musicians during their presentation.

“We love the song because we believe that through education we can transform the world. This campaign was born from there, with the desire to inform people about the existence of this convention 190 which talks about a basic right. When we sing, we try to include many values, awareness, struggle, celebration, and this is what we do with this song,” says Maf.

“Through music, we want to carry out a process of decolonization of a territory that has been violated. We want women in urban and rural areas to enjoy spaces for reflection through music and, to be able to demand respect through it,” adds Anyul.

Road Builders

Silvia Hernández.

Silvia Hernández is the fourth woman to preside in the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica and the second woman to preside in Congress in the same constitutional period for the first time in the country’s history. During her term in these former positions, she focused on competitiveness and innovation issues, in strengthening public finances and achieving better job opportunities for the population with an emphasis on women. Silvia shared the importance of women in politics and recalled the great Costa Rican women who closed the gaps and forged the path, to broader participation in these spaces, which have historically been dominated by men.

We thank the Freeman family, founders of the fund, for making this inspiring event possible; where we all learned from the stories of powerful women, women who inspire.