By Maria Agostina Biritos

I advocate for Gender Equality. Why?

Because I am a woman; simple as that. And as a woman, I know what it feels like to have to fight for something men take for granted. Respect. Freedom. Education. Equality.

I know now what I fight for. But it wasn’t always the case.
It took me some years to understand how this World works. I guess when you are little you just don’t know. You play with dolls and dream about being a princess when you grow up. You just don’t know.
Later in life you start to realize there are some things that don’t add up. You start to really pay attention and everything changes.
Even now after some years of paying attention, it still amazes me how are women so lightly disregarded and oppressed. How after so many years we are still fighting. And what do we fight for?
It seemed to me overwhelmingly hard to find one answer. Because honestly we still fight for so many things.
Well let me tell you about the time I understood what exactly are we fighting for.
It happened during an international summer program I attended in the US. I got to spend time with twenty five people from all over the world. Everyone was representing a different country and as I soon discover a whole different perspective and idiosyncrasy. There were fourteen young women. From places as distant from each other as Kyrgyzstan and Brazil can be. And despite the distance or the language barrier I only needed to smile to get a smile back. Getting to know all this different countries and their struggles was beyond open minded. And I started to grasp what moved all this other women, what were they passionate about.

So, what are we fighting for? Many things. Pakistan claims education, Egypt cries for health care, Tajikistan begs for independence and opportunities, Argentina bleeds sexual violence. Yes, true we all want different things for our communities and the women we represent. We all have different focuses, different priorities.

It was really hard for me to pick just one thing. What are we fighting for?
And then randomly and unexpectedly as these things tend to happen, one of the girls asked me for my red lipstick and I got my answer. It may sound like a very small thing but let me show you what I saw:

There she was; my beautiful friend from India, with her backless dress and her deep red lips. Who was there against her father’s will, who was there in spite of a patriarchal society that was trying to hold her back and goes without saying, failing spectacularly. She wasn’t sure about it, is the dress too much? Are my lips too much? She was so beautiful and she was shinning so much. I just took her hand, silenced her doubts and off we were.

So, once again what are we fighting for? Many things. And we need to be free to keep fighting.
Free to speak our minds. Free to paint our lips red. Free to talk about these issues. Free to find people who listen. And more importantly people who care.
So it is about lipstick, and the extraordinary things we girls are capable of.

Paint your lips red, Beautiful. Paint them red, give me your hand and let’s go make this World a lovelier Place 🎀