Inspire! - By My Own Standards

Avatar Student - Political Science
Maria Jimena Jurado Giraldo
Member since May 21, 2016
  • 11 Posts
  • Age 23

After spending some time wondering who the best person to feature here was, I realised that the best person to interview was there all along. The following questions were asked to my best friend, Carissa Reid. She is selfless Jamaican soul who has been my mentor and my role model. Her interests range from feminism to dance and even math. Hopefully, you will find in the following questions the passion she speaks with and the dreams she wishes to fulfil. I hope that in the same way she did with me she sparks in you a sense to improve, not only yourself, but your surroundings.

What would you say are three pressing issues, young people in Jamaica are facing nowadays?

- Crime is definitely a problem. However, this isn’t an isolated one; it is linked to corruption and the weak economy.

- LGBT discrimination and gender based violence particularly the rape and trafficking of young girls.

- The weak economy and the resultant lack of jobs and employment opportunities.

What would you say are the things that must happen in order to tackle these issues?

Definitely one of the most important steps will be to build up a culture of active political participation among citizens. This isn’t in the sense of simply increasing voter turnout but instead creating a Jamaica in which citizens have a voice to let the government know their concerns. Also a culture in which people discuss the issues and educate themselves on what is going in our country.

I know you have a passion for gender equality, would you mind telling us how this passion was born?

Gender-roles are very present in Jamaican culture and I always had a problem with the way they worked but I don’t think I actually became familiar with the feminist movement until I left Jamaica to study – then it happened overnight and I was like yes, this speaks to everything I’ve been feeling. And of course it did because it just makes sense!!!

What have been the most difficult things you have had to face when identifying as a feminist?

I think being a feminist is difficult everywhere you go. I think people have all these negative assumptions about you because of it. It’s also difficult to live by my own feminist standards that tell me not to succumb to the patriarchy’s way of doing things when this way is so ingrained in our culture.

What would you say is your inspiration for the things you want to fight against, what motivates you to keep on going?

I would say I’m motivated by how hard it is for me sometimes. When I think about how hard it is for me personally to deal with racism or sexism or whatever inequality I face in my life, I think of how many other people are feeling the same way or worse. I think of how many more people will feel this way and I think about the people who couldn’t handle it anymore.

Are there any projects, or ideas, you are involved in at the moment that you would like to share?

This summer I was working on a community group called the Manchester Peace Coalition which is a citizens groups consisting of over 25 peace groups in my parish (sort of like the Jamaican version of states). The project is new but its going places and doing works so I can’t wait to get back and work with them in December. So far we had our first diagnostic and peace-building event in one of the most violent communities in the parish and it was definitely an eye opening success.

What message would you give to other young, and old people, who want to fight for women’s right but don’t know exactly how to do it?

Start with your life. Look for the things in your own life that are agents of the patriarchy and start working on them. Be introspective, see how you yourself might even be spreading anti-feminist sentiments without even noticing. Talk about why you are a feminist and why the world needs feminism and you just might bring someone new to the cause.

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