Alumni Update: Rosemary Ochoa (Honduras)

Thanks to Global UGRAD, my semester-long stay in the United States allowed me to widen out and meet women, some of them being Global UGRAD participants themselves, from all around the globe. They were all immensely different, which was revealed at simple sight: our clothing, food, beliefs and traditions. Pictures and videos reveal how our skin tones beautifully contrasted with each other, or how our accents hilariously differed, but they can’t accurately illustrate our sisterly bond. There was something that united us and that no cultural background could form a barrier. We possessed a desire to jump into the pursuit of our dreams at the expense of outgrowing our comfort zone.

I do not take this opportunity to meet women who were encouraged and supported to follow their dreams for granted, as this isn’t typical in my home country, Honduras. Femicides and misogyny are not only happening at an alarming and increasing frequency, but they’re happening with impunity. Honduran women are not denied their right to be educated or to pursue academic or professional goals – so as long as they don’t forsake their domestic responsibilities – but they may get assaulted, robbed, tortured, sex trafficked, raped or killed while they’re at it.

Through a Psychology of Gender course I took at Iowa Wesleyan University, I learned about neurosexism, which is the use of sexist arguments that through biased or misinterpreted brain research attempt to justify why women are inferior to men. By educating ourselves and other change-makers we could address the violence from its very roots: the underlying sexist beliefs we’ve been wrongly taught by high authority sources such as the media. In an attempt to do so, I joined OXFAM, an international organization focused on fighting injustice (including gender violence in all of its forms) by preparing and delivering educational talks and workshops on Neurosexism for young leaders and members of other women’s rights organizations. Using all the knowledge I was empowered by through not only a gender course, but also throughout my entire Global UGRAD experience, I am working on building more gender educational tools so as to get Honduran youth, especially young women, to value their lives and seek out better opportunities for themselves just as me and all the wonderful women I’ve met from all over the world have proven possible.

Written by Rosemary Ochoa, Honduras, Iowa Wesleyan University, Global UGRAD 2017-2018.