Working with people living in deprived conditions has taught me many things, and I hope to always keep learning more about us humans, our behavior, and the world we live in. Even though I usually enjoy being the one who listens and learns, there are times when I need to be the one who teaches.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that we all want to be recognized and respected for who we are. We all want to contribute.
This applies to everyone. And the best way to teach equality and respectful behavior is by example; by treating all others with respect and appreciation. In all situations, in all cultures.
It is not easy for me to speak about sexual harassment. Nevertheless, this is something I encounter often, too often. I’m talkative, open, and I smile a lot. I attract attention, especially male attention. I’m used to it, so I’ve grown to be very patient and not take things too seriously.
But every now and then, someone crosses the line. To me, this is always a disappointment, especially when it happens in a work context.
Like I said, it is not easy for me to talk about this. But I want to do it now to teach you that you need to respect me. You need to respect all women. We might not all be able to demand it, but we do deserve it.
I am a woman and I will not hide it. I am proud to be a woman, I am proud to have the body of a woman. I will not hide it, I will not change the way I dress to hide my curves. And I will never stop smiling. Ever.
Pay attention to what I do, not to what I look like. Be curious about what is in my heart, not about what is under my shirt.
Ask me about my work, not about my height or my hair. Work with me because you appreciate my contribution, not because you fantasize about something more.
Teach your daughter that she is equal to any boy. That she is worth the same. Show her what it really means to treat women with respect. Make her understand that SHE CAN.
When you respect us, we will work with you. And us working together is what is needed to make our world a better place.
We might be different, but we are all equal.
P.S. If you wish to touch me, you need my approval to do so. Don’t assume I’m inviting you to grab me just because I smile at you.