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The video you are about to see is the result of the Latin American Gender Equality Project.

As a woman, a mother, a wife and an educator, gender equity is an issue that is very close to my heart and frankly, an idea whose time has come.

We are long overdue for our children to see boys and girls sharing the sandbox equally.

Women make up more than 50 percent of the world, yet the messages in the media, in many homes and classrooms around the world are that women and girls have less value than men and boys.

We aren’t supposed to be leaders. Our place is in the home. We shouldn’t have goals and dreams. Those are reserved for our brothers, husbands and fathers. How dare we go to the edge of greatness and achievement? Who do we think we are?

There is an old expression, “women belong in the house... and the Senate.” And one day, we will see a woman president in the United States!

And let’s not forget what former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said,

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good Latingovernance.

The video you are about to see is a remarkable story about the courage, confidence, and conviction of Maria Teresa Cabrera.

Maria Teresa is a hero to the women of the Dominican Republic. She is the first woman president of the Association of Dominican Teachers. (Associación Dominicana de Profesores)

You will be shocked to hear in the video what her opponent said to her when she decided to run for president of her teachers’ union...Nonetheless, she won in a landslide.

I can only imagine what this will do for the young girls in this country. When positive nontraditional images of women are available to young girls it can broaden and expand their lives, foster confidence, enthusiasm and achievement. If they see it, they can be it.

As president, Maria did all of the things that Unions must do…fight for social justice, equality, ensuring workplace respect. But more importantly, she made certain that gender equity was put on equal footing with all of these values.

What better place to fight for gender equity than within the union? We should be first in gender equity in all ways and at all levels. Unions are supposed to be progressive, but many of our unions are guilty of ignoring this fundamental right, right inside the walls of the union.

This must change. Unions must change. Curricula must change. The media must change. Educators must change. Education International and the EI affiliates in Latin America are changing. This project, in which Maria Teresa’s union is participating, is reaching every education union in Latin America, and is supported by the National Education Association.

(Interview with Jan Eastman from Education International)

When we fail to give our girls an opportunity to dream and explore, we rob society of critical energy, economic production and unlimited creative talent. We also teach the next generation that it’s ok to devalue women because it was done before.

This is our collective journey and we must move forward together to achieve gender equality.

We cannot embrace the false idea that progress happens naturally, all on its own. That as time goes by, people just change, and things just change for the better.

Change happens because we demand it.

(versión en español)

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