Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Aleida Ruiz: a 15-year-old in Oaxaca takes on violence against women

A 15-year-old activist, feminist, dancer and writer in Oaxaca is living proof that it’s never too early to start working toward a more peaceful and equitable world.

While many teenagers might not have much of an idea of what they want to do with their lives, Aleida Ruiz Sosa already has a clear vision for hers: she wants to do all that she can to eradicate violence against girls and women on top of fighting for equality and women’s rights more broadly.

And she isn’t sitting around waiting to get started. Ruiz has already imparted a six-month dance course in a women’s prison near Oaxaca city, written a collection of short stories that seeks to educate people about violence against women and help eliminate sexist stereotypes and served as a “peace ambassador” for the Ibero-American Human Rights Commission.

While she was giving the dance course at the Tanivet women’s prison, Ruiz became aware that the 170 prisoners had very limited access to feminine hygiene products so she turned her focus to fundraising and was able to secure enough funds to buy and donate 11 menstrual cups.

Entitled Arcoíris, or Rainbow, her collection of short stories, published with the support of the Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office, also raised much-needed funds – in this case for children who lost their mothers to femicide.

Ballet dancer Ruiz gave a six-month dance course at a women's prison in Oaxaca.
Ballet dancer Ruiz gave a six-month dance course at a women’s prison in Oaxaca.

“The money from every book sold went to girls and boys [whose mothers were killed] because when a woman dies, she doesn’t just die and that’s it. It affects the children who are left without a mother and grandmothers who are left without a daughter. It affects an entire chain [of people],” Ruiz told the newspaper Milenio.

For her dedication to helping those who are less fortunate, Ruiz was nominated in 2020 for the International Children’s Peace Prize, an award previously won by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

But Ruiz is not resting on her laurels: she has now turned her focus to the issue of child marriage in Oaxaca while also preparing to perform in a dance routine to raise funds to buy more menstrual cups for the female prisoners.

Her anti-child marriage campaign – called “let girls be girls, not wives” – seeks to raise awareness about the law in Oaxaca that forbids marriage before the age of 18 and ensure that it is not violated.

Ruiz told Milenio that there have even been cases in which minors and young women have been raped, become pregnant and forced to marry their aggressors.

As for her dance performance next Monday – International Women’s Day – the young activist hopes to sell enough “virtual access” tickets to buy 150 menstrual cups for female prisoners.

Given her work to date and obvious passion for girl’s and women’s rights, it’s not surprising that Ruiz is already thinking about a career in the field, telling Milenio that she would like to take on an ambassadorial role one day. A position with the United Nations or a Mexican or international human rights organization would appear to be a natural fit.

“I consider myself a feminist insofar as I firmly believe in equality and in the right for men and women to have [equal] opportunities,” Ruiz said.

“… The female gender is clearly disadvantaged and we have to work to reach an equilibrium. In my family I have more male cousins that female ones [but] we’ve always been treated the same; there’s no favoritism or anything.”

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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