Five Strong Migrant Women

Por Betilde Muñoz

8 de Marzo 2020

Today it’s time to celebrate women’s achievements, and to assess the gender inequality gap that persists to see what we can do about it. It’s time to put the lens on the dire situation Venezuelan women face, but more importantly, it’s a good opportunity to celebrate the women who keep showing resilience, entrepreneurship, and a commitment to the rights of all people.

Unfortunately when it comes to Venezuelan women, we keep hearing how they have been disproportionately affected by the humanitarian crisis. We have also covered here the ugly scourge of feminicides in Venezuela and against Venezuelan migrant and refugee women.

However, to commemorate International Women’s Day, I decided with the editors’ green light to highlight the stories of five young, powerful women who most do not know but are doing excellent work in their respective (very diverse) fields. They inspire me and give me hope that Venezuela will be great once again, and I thought you should know them too.

Maria Corina Muskus, founder of Venezolanas Globales

I consider myself a woman of the world, now as a migrant, and in my second home country Mexico. But nobody can deny its roots.

Not all Venezuelans can leave the country for their higher education anymore. I recognize my privileges. I migrated in 2015 to Washington DC, to do my master’s degree in Gender and Human Rights at American University Washington College of Law, thanks to a scholarship given to me by this university. I loved being in the USA and being able to hide in this duality between Spanish and English, in being Latin but at the same time a white woman. The cultural shock was immediate, I remember that I was shocked by the silence in public buses, the distance between people, how difficult it was to start a conversation with others, I felt like the protagonist of Chimamanda Ngozi’s book Americanah. Another thing that I loved was how invisible I was to the other people on the street, nobody looked at me. Later I learned that us Latinas in the US normalize street harassment so much that it becomes part of our daily lives.

Having an uncle in Washington, DC was key in my migratory process. He had lived (and still lives) in Washington DC. Without him, my dream of studying in Washington and migrating to the US would have been another story.

I am in Mexico working in the advocacy area of ​​a Mexican NGO. Despite this, I started Venezolanas Globales, an initiative that unites the Venezuelan diaspora abroad, together with Yenni Peña in 2018. As Marta Lagarde, a Mexican feminist, very well says, “the Alliance of women in commitment is as important as the fight against other phenomena of oppression and for creating spaces in which women can deploy new possibilities of life”. This phrase is at the heart of what Venezolanas Globales. We also have called this onboarding, which are all those tips of adaptation of the Venezuelan migrant to the host country and city that are shared through this network.

What would I recommend other Venezuelan migrant women? Dare, dare to talk to strangers, to ask for help, to join yoga groups, reading, music, dancing, whatever catches your attention. Get out of your comfort zone, you have no choice, migration is the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself. Meet people, meet many people and connect with them, especially women.

Connect with who you are, migration makes you know the most beautiful and darkest parts of yourself. For example, I am a woman, migrant and Latina, and although in certain contexts these layers of identities are not favorable, they have been key to my work and professional experience.

I want to come back, of course. I find that the experiences Venezuelans have acquired abroad are extremely valuable for the recovery of the country.

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