Women have little to no freedom of speech in the public space in Chiapas, Mexico. This leads to a culture in which women have a fear of speaking, expressing themselves and making decisions for themselves, their family and their community.
Because of these cultural norms, twenty-one year old Francisca de Asis’s path has been filled with obstacles day after day.
In 2013, The Hunger Project-Mexico invited young women in Chiapas, Mexico to participate in the catalyst formation process; among these young women was Francisca. At the beginning of the training process, Francisca was quiet, shy and inexpressive, she had little confidence and always faced downwards as she spoke in a very low tone of voice. Francisca said she was embarrassed to look at people in the eyes, but she did not hesitate to stress the personal vision she wished to achieve: “I want to speak without fear nor shame; for me it is very difficult since I am very young and the men do not like when us women express ourselves”.
The Hunger Project-Mexico worked to help Francisca’ achieve her vision and hope for the future. They helped strengthen her self-esteem, remind her of her capability to make her own decisions and empower her identity as a young indigenous woman.
Since then, Francisca has become a leading participant in group meetings both in and outside of her community. She has been actively present during training sessions and workshops, helped to facilitate conversations between partners and helped pave the way for her community to achieve their vision of success. Today, Francisca’s is a prime example of a once young, shy and quiet girl who has become a young catalyst leader; a woman who is holding her head up high as she works to achieve her vision, to express her right to be happy.