By Melissa Hurtado
GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA
Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?
A: Women empowerment means sisterhood and solidarity.
Every woman on this planet is fighting the same fight each and every day. No matter how different two women are, they likely share similar experiences when it comes to gender-based oppression. These experiences connect women in a unique way- it makes us sisters and sisters stand together.
Q: What does being a woman mean to you?
A: Womanhood means freedom and possibility, but when it doesn’t, it means stoicism and strength.
Being a woman allows me to safely explore what it means to be pretty. Femininity and prettiness are intertwined, and as a woman, I get to have fun with both. I also get to be vulnerable and sensitive with those I trust. I have deep, meaningful friendships with men and women. Men are not as safe doing the same.
However, as a woman, I have faced danger and limitations. My parents raised me with fear, afraid of how the world could hurt me so they did their best to control and shelter me for as long as they could. It came with love “but a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.”
I can’t blame them- I have felt fear when I would walk home and strange men would yell at me, or when I would get stared at on the metro, or when I got followed to my car, or when I was flashed in a university parking lot, or when a faculty member at university tried to force me into an embrace.
In these events, as a woman, I have to stand my ground and be strong.
Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?
A: I bring vegan, love filled donuts, an open mind, a big heart, and loads of La Croix.