¡Si, Se Puede!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Yes, we can! This is the rallying cry of the legendary civil rights activist and community organizer Dolores Huerta who, along with the late Cesar Chavez, founded the United Farm Workers union. In recognition of her fearless leadership in the fight for labor and human rights, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Huerta was among the many feminist luminaries and warriors who presented at TEDWomen2018 in La Quinta, CA where the senior admin team and I gathered to reflect on the state of the world and the role of women and girls in solving humanity’s most pressing problems.

This year’s TEDWomen theme, Showing Up, heralded the indisputable fact that women are no longer waiting on the sidelines for change, power, or influence. With a record number of women elected to Congress and our voices raised in the Women’s March and #MeToo movements, women everywhere understand that power will never be given to us. We have to take it. The message was clear: Until we demand equal representation at the decision making tables, the world will continue to strain under systems and policies that neglect women and girls - or worse, oppress them.

Two realizations seized me during TEDWomen: First, essentially every woman who spoke about her efforts to advance herself, become more powerful, or effect change faced a similar set of obstacles and counter-forces. This helped me see our struggles at Archer more universally and less personally. The prevailing sense of determination in the face of often discouraging odds was inspiring, and I felt less alone in my own struggle as a strong, assertive, and aspirational woman. Second, the lineup of speakers was both multicultural and international. The vastness beyond Brentwood, CA and even the whole of the United States is humbling. The more we extend our perspective and enlist solutions from those whose experiences and perspectives differ from our own, the better the outcomes for all of humanity.

Majd Mashharawi is a 25-year-old engineer and entrepreneur from the Gaza Strip. She is the CEO of GreenCake, a start up that designs and manufactures bricks made from recycled local materials. Buildings destroyed by war are difficult to rebuild in her community because construction materials cannot make it over the border. Majd’s work serves as a powerful metaphor in a world where the affronts and injustices for women and girls, especially in impoverished communities, seem at times insurmountable and relentless. All we can do is keep building, one improvised cinder block at a time.

Photo: TEDWomen

¡Sí, Se Puede!