Sixteen-year-old Maria Fernanda Pineda Calero is one of those teens who makes you look back on your own adolescence and think, “What was I even doing?” A self-proclaimed feminist living in Nicaragua, Calero runs a program that helps educate other girls on their sexual, reproductive and citizenship rights. She was the focus of a Broadly piece that reveals Nicaragua’s strong feminist history, a legacy that is floundering as human rights for women and girls are slowly being withdrawn as violence and poverty rise. “Women never stop being minors because men always control us. They never let us live our lives,” she said. In Nicaragua, abortion is banned in all cases despite high instances of sexual violence. At least 6,069 cases of sexual violence were recorded in 2013, according to Plan International. The country boasts the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America, with 28 percent of girls giving birth before age 18.
Calero is pushing back against “machismo” culture that puts men above women in Nicaraguan society and expects them “to reproduce, to be submissive, subordinated, compliant and weak,” she said. She’s received pushback for her feminist efforts at school and in public — even at home, where her parents didn’t think she should play soccer because she’s a girl. “I received a sexist education at home,” Calero said, adding that school is no better. “We’re taught to [be subordinate] from the seating arrangements, with whom we walk in recess, how to play, how to act — in physical education, if exercises require strength they don’t let us girls do them.”
Her program, Born to Fly, was established as a means to push back. She teaches her peers about their own bodies and rights in hopes that education will inspire great change. “All women should agree that we want to control our minds, bodies, and reproductive system since knowledge that empowers us also makes us free,” she said.
Read the full story at Broadly.