These are the voices, dreams, and thoughts of girls and women around the world.
DIVE INTO THE STORIES
Explore the stories of some of the girls and women who we have profiled for THE THROUGH HER EYES PROJECT.
And follow the links in their stories to watch their videos, and learn more about them.
In 2001, Ecuadorian Rosa Elena Moreta became one of the first indigenous women to summit Cotopaxi, one of the tallest and most active volcanoes in the world. Although she lived her whole life surrounded by the mountains, it was not until a Peace Corps volunteer living in her community introduced the sport to her that she began a journey that would take her to the top. Training would teach her about more than mountaineering. After reaching the summit, Rosa Elena returned to her community with new goals, and aspirations to do much more than she ever imagined. "I realized these four walls did not need to contain me," she said while sitting in her white walled home. When she returned to her community, many of the women looked at her strangely and questioned why she had wanted to climb mountains, Rosa Elena recalled. "I had lived beside this mountain my whole life, and I had never even imagined climbing it, why not?" she said. Slowly the women in her community grew more and more curious, and she shared the stories of her journey with them, even getting some of them interested in climbing, too. Emboldened by her new found confidence and desire to do more than what she had done in the past, Rosa Elena got involved in her community to fight for women’s rights. And, people took notice. In 2002, she was elected leader of her community. She was the first woman ever to hold that position. Rosa Elena’s journey to the summit was an integral part of her push to be more than what she had ever imagined for herself. "When you practice sports a person maintains a healthy mind, a healthy body,” she said. “You have more agility, you develop more in the area as a person, your person. You are not closed in your house all day doing nothing. You are occupied and you develop more each day.”
Jackelin Ortega Vivanco de Cabrera
Jackelin Ortega Vivanco de Cabrera has family roots that run deep to the sport of basketball. Her mother played for the Ecuadorian Women’s National Basketball team, playing in the team’s first international competition in 1964. In the town of Loja, in southern Ecuador, where Jackelin lives, basketball is popular. And, Jackelin was encouraged to play the sport as a young girl. But, she says this wasn’t true for all of the girls she grew up with, nor is it true today. She believes that a lack of support in some families limits girls and women from playing. Still, change is happening. “I think, little by little the road is opening up to women. Women are gaining respect. And I think it is important that the men, the family, join together to play sports,” says Jackelin. “We as mothers, should involve our kids from when they are little in the game.” Today she continues the family tradition of playing the sport - competing in a “Mommy Basketball” league with other moms - and sometimes even competes against her daughter. “Sport is life, it is joy,” she says. “We should encourage ourselves, women, to fill ourselves with life, to play sports.”
Seledina Nieves Arroyo is an Ecuadorian weightlifter and mother of twin girls. Growing up in the northern city of Esmeraldas, Seledina didn’t lift weights and had many responsibilities as a young mother. It wasn’t until she was twenty-one that she was introduced to the sport of weightlifting. Despite her late start in the sport, she would go on to qualify and compete in the Pan American, South American, Bolivarian, and Olympic Games. But, it is what she gained beyond the medals that drives Seledina to get other girls and women into sports. “…as long as you play sports, you will always be healthy,” she said. She views herself as an example for her daughters and other women and girls, because many times women leave the sport because of a lack of support. “I am giving an example to keep moving forward, that despite all the barriers you face in the road, that you should keep moving forward,” she said. In 2008 the Women’s Commission of the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee awarded Seledina a home, in honor of all of her achievements. Today, she leads the Sports Federation of Esmeraldas in her home province, working to get more girls and women involved in sports.
Gabriela Chalá, a runner and volleyball player in Ecuador, says sport has made her be a better person. And, it was through support from her family that she was able to play. “It is very important to have someone supporting you all of the time, who trusts in you,” she said. Growing up with only her mother, who Gabriela says gave her everything, this support made all the difference. “She is the one who helped me get ahead. Thanks to her, I train,'“ she said. “Just as men, we women also have strength. I hope there is more support for us. I hope they pay more attention to us, that they help us. Let us try.”