Mujeres Creando: ¡Juntxs siempre podemos!
Every week a group of 15 to 20 women meet to eat, talk, and -- most importantly -- to be in community at the Fair Haven Branch Library in New Haven, Connecticut. These women gather in the library’s community room, where they engage in activities, wellness conversations and social justice dialogue facilitated by community leaders such as Megan Fountain, from Unidad Latina en Acción; Mary Elizabeth Smith, from Junta for Progressive Action; and me. The group, named Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) came about as a way to address the need of informal community spaces of Latinx women in Fair Haven. In this partnership, we’ve established a group of diverse Latinx women representing Latin American countries such as México, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.
Mujeres Creando is still in the beginning stages, but it’s amazing to see new faces showing up every week – all of them eager to participate in theater activities, which are facilitated by Megan. Megan specializes in Theater of the Oppressed, which is a technique created by Brazilian theater practitioner, Augusto Boal, as a teaching method to promote social justice and human rights among marginalized communities. For our purposes in the women’s group, we are utilizing theater activities not only as a means to break the ice get to know one another better, but also as a way to introduce them to human rights and awareness of violations that they may be experiencing.
In our last meeting, we had a special guest: Oaxacan rapper and activist Mare Advertencia Lírica, who lead the women in various activities regarding female autonomy and rights. What resulted were rich conversations around barriers that these women face on a daily basis, barriers which prevent them from living a more just, better life. Some people named issues regarding their immigration status and wage theft; while others mentioned transportation and the need of affordable health care.
Their issues are directly connected to conversations that we’ve been having internally in our Public Policy and Advocacy department: how can PPSNE expand from reproductive rights issues into reproductive justice oriented work, which encompasses a person’s ability to have a child or not have a child, and to parent the children they have in safe and healthy environments?
The goal of Mujeres Creando isn’t only to help these women solve their issues, but also for them to learn; to feel a sense of community and common ground with other women who may be living similar situations. Our hope is that this group continues to grow and becomes a movement that empowers Latinx women so they realize their strength as individuals and in unity. Every group meeting is different and it’s incredibly beautiful to witness such a diverse group of Latinx women in one space, sharing and taking part in one another’s lives. I feel privileged for just witnessing these conversations, and I hope that together we can walk forward to create change -- for them and for the future generations of poderosas mujeres Latinxs that will come. ¡Juntxs siempre se puede!
If you know someone who would like to participate or contribute in any way to Mujeres Creando, contact us at [email protected]
The author is a Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.