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‘Mujeres Construyendo': Empowering Women, One Blog at a Time

“Una bloguera es, ante todo, una mujer valiente, que se atreve y se compromete. ¿Por qué? Porque a través de su blog se expresa, dice lo que piensa, siente, lo que es. Si tiene miedo de hablar o darle cuerpo a sus ideas, enfrenta ese miedo y lo supera.”

- “¿Quién es una bloguera?”, Mujeres Construyendo

A female blogger is, first and foremost, a brave woman, one who dares and one who commits. Why? Because through her blog she expresses herself, she says what she thinks, what she feels, what she is. If she is afraid to speak of or shape her ideas, she confronts this fear and overcomes it.

- “¿Quién es una bloguera?” [es] (Who is a female blogger?), Mujeres Construyendo

Women make up almost half of Latin America's Internet users. However, in spite of their high web-presence, women are mainly content consumers. Mujeres Construyendo [es], the first platform for female bloggers in Spanish, wants to transform Hispanic women into creators, not just consumers, of internet content.

Its founder, Claudia Calvin, answered some questions about this platform and community of Hispanic female bloggers.

Global Voices: How and when was Mujeres Construyendo created? 

Claudia Calvin: Mujeres Construyendo surge como proyecto en el 2008, después de un tiempo de haberme hecho bloguera. Su origen se encuentra principalmente en mis andares por internet y después de descubrir una realidad que llamó profundamente mi atención: que las mujeres de habla hispana que participamos en internet seguimos transmitiendo en este espacio una creencia profundamente arraigada en nuestra cultura. ¿Cuál es? Aquella que nos inculcaron de niñas y en la que nos decían que “calladitas nos veíamos más bonitas”. Descubrí que nuestra participación como blogueras era muy distinta a  la participación de las blogueras estadounidenses: ellas en la actualidad representan casi un 60% de los blogueros en su país y las blogueras en internet de habla hispana representamos un escaso 27%. Cuando inicié Mujeres Construyendo, la cifra era más desalentadora aún: 15%.

Busqué afanosamente un espacio de convergencia de mujeres blogueras, un espacio que no fuese un directorio, sino un lugar de convivencia, una comunidad como tal. Al no encontrarla, decidí hacerla, y así es como surge Mujeres Construyendo.

Hablé con unos amigos desarrolladores y lograron darle vida a esta idea que tenía en mi mente. La plataforma Mujeres Construyendo surge como tal en el 2009.

Claudia Calvin: Mujeres Construyendo came about in 2008, after a period of establishing myself as a blogger. It came from my internet browsing and the discovery of a reality that really caught my attention: Spanish speaking women who contribute to the internet continue to transmit a profound belief that is deeply-rooted in our culture. What was it? The belief that has been instilled in us since we were girls, the idea that “the quieter we are, the more beautiful we are”. I discovered that our contributions as bloggers were very distinct to that of American women. They currently constitute almost 60% of bloggers in their country and Spanish speaking female bloggers make up just 27%. When I began Mujeres Construyendo, the figure was even more discouraging… 15%.

I frantically looked for a space where female bloggers could get together, a space that wasn't a directory, but rather a place of coexistence, a community, as it were. After failing to find this, I decided to make it myself, and that is how Mujeres Construyendo came about.

I spoke with some developer friends and they managed to bring the idea I had in mind to life. And so the Mujeres Construyendo platform sprung to life in 2009.

GV: What is Mujeres Construyendo's mission? What does it want to achieve with this female blogging platform?

CC: El objetivo de Mujeres Construyendo es que las mujeres aprendamos a hacer uso de las nuevas tecnologías y las herramientas que brinda internet para empoderarnos, crecer, desarrollarnos. Los blogs son una herramienta de empoderamiento para nosotras: nos permite comunicar lo que hacemos, pensamos, visualizamos y participar en un diálogo central en el nuevo espacio público, que es internet.

Hemos participado más como observadoras y consumidoras de contenido que como proveedoras y en este espacio vacío se está perdiendo una enorme oportunidad para construir una realidad que refleje nuestros intereses y manera de entender y participar en el mundo, tanto en el ámbito de lo social, como lo político y empresarial, y ni qué decir de lo personal y familiar.

Las mujeres vivimos muchos tipos de marginación en el mundo, no necesitamos sumar una más a las existentes: la digital.

CC: The objective of Mujeres Construyendo is for women to learn to make use of new technologies and tools that the internet offers in order to be empowered, to grow and to develop. Blogs are empowering tools for us – they enable us to communicate what we do, what we think, what we see. They allow us to participate in a central dialogue in the new public space, the internet.

We have been more involved as observers and consumers of content than providers. We are missing out on a great opportunity to construct a reality that reflects our interests and way of  understanding and participating in the world, in a social sense, as well as a political and business sense, not to mention the personal and familial.

Women deal with many types of marginalisation in society, we don't need to add digital marginalisation to those that already exist.

GV: Why is it important for women to have a blog?

CC: Como mencionaba anteriormente, los blogs son una herramienta de empoderamiento en la medida en que posibilitan que las mujeres puedan comunicarse, expresar, proponer y dialogar en internet y con ello contribuir a la definición y construcción de una realidad que refleje sus intereses y visión. Las voces de mujeres en la blogósfera son importantes porque son el reflejo de la mitad de los habitantes del planeta y en el medida en que sean actores sociales, políticos, voten, consuman, tomen decisiones y vivan de manera cotidiana los diversos contextos de su entorno (desde violencia, hasta crisis económicas, pasando por desastres naturales o guerras) su voz es importante. Son actores de la vida cotidiana y su visión y mirada cuentan, valen, reflejan una circunstancia. Su silencio resulta -sin que ellas mismas los sepan- cómplices de realidades sexistas o que marginan y en la medida en que paulatinamente vayan apareciendo y expresando su voz…irá cambiando el entorno. El silencio jamás ha sido socio del empoderamiento.

CC: As I mentioned before, blogs are tools of empowerment insofar as they make it possible for women to be able to communicate and express themselves, make suggestions and converse on the internet. They are tools with which women contribute to the definition and construction of a reality that represents their interests and vision. Women's voices, in the blogosphere, are important because they reflect half of the planet's inhabitants. Their voices are important in the sense that they are social players, politicians, they vote, they act, they make decisions and everyday they live through different environmental contexts (from violence, to economic crises; from natural disasters, to wars). They are players in everyday life and their vision and perspective counts, they are valued, they reflect a situation. Their silence, although they themselves are unaware, acts as an accomplice for a sexist reality, or it means they are marginalised. As long as their voices continue to gradually appear and be expressed, this environment will keep changing.

GV: How many women have a blog on Mujeres Construyendo?

CC: La comunidad de Mujeres Construyendo está constituida por la plataforma Mujeres Construyendo (www.mujeresconstruyendo.com) y las redes sociales a través de las cuáles se conecta su comunidad. La suma de personas conectadas a esta propuesta y a este espacio suma hoy cerca de 9 mil personas.

CC: The community of Mujeres Construyendo is made up by the Mujeres Construyendo platform (www.mujeresconstruyendo.com) and the social networks that connect this community. The total sum of people connected today is around nine thousand.

GV: What is the profile of the women who blog on Mujeres Construyendo?

CC: Cabe decir que participan hombres y mujeres en nuestra plataforma. Somos un espacio incluyente y consideramos que no se puede hablar de equidad partiendo de un principio de exclusión, por ello, las voces masculinas son bien recibidas. La mayoría, estamos hablando de más del 96%, son mujeres. Su perfil es principalmente urbano, de entre 25 y 45 años, en su mayoría de México, España, Argentina, Venezuela y Estados Unidos. Quiero destacar a una de nuestras blogueras más activas, y que inclusive ha sido entrevistada en televisión: Bertha, una extraordinaria mujer de 82 años que nos enseña que no hay edad para seguir aprendiendo y que las herramientas digitales son poderosas y permiten a las personas seguirle dando sentido a su vida.

CC: I should say that both men and women use our platform. We are an inclusive space and we don't believe that you can talk about equality while at the same time exercising a principal of exclusion, so male bloggers are also welcomed. The majority, we're talking more than 96%, are women. Their profile is mainly urban, from 25 to 45 years of age, and mainly from Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela and the United States. I want to focus on one of our most active bloggers, who has even been interviewed on television. Bertha, an extraordinary 82 year-old woman who shows us that there's no age limit to learning and that digital tools are powerful and they can continue to give meaning to people's lives.

GV: What will 2012 bring for Mujeres Construyendo?

CC: Empezamos el año con el pie derecho, estrenando nueva casa y nuestro nuevo sitio nos permite interactuar mejor, conocernos y convivir de manera más cercana. Detrás de esto hay trabajo y compromiso y queremos consolidarnos como un espacio central para que las mujeres participen, tengan voz y con ello contribuir con nuestro grano de arena no sólo a su empoderamiento, sino al fortalecimiento de la democracia. Queremos incrementar el número de blogueras participando y vinculadas a nuestra comunidad, estamos trabajando en ofrecer herramientas a las blogueras que les permitan fortalecer su presencia y cumplir sus objetivos, sean estos personales, familiares, profesionales. Detrás de este trabajo hay alianzas y proyectos que podrán ver en un futuro muy cercano y del que con gusto les platicaremos en su momento.

Muchas gracias por su interés en conocernos y ojalá a través de Global Voices más mujeres se animen a sumar su voz a nuestra comunidad. Juntas podemos hacer una diferencia.

CC: We're going to start the year off on the right foot. Opening a new house and our new site will allow us to interact, get to know each other and live together in a closer way. Behind this there is work and dedication and we want to consolidate it into one central space so that the women who participate have a voice with which they do their bit, not just towards their own empowerment, but also towards strengthening democracy. We want to increase the number of female bloggers who participate within and are linked to our community so we are working on offering tools to the female bloggers that enable them to strengthen their presence and achieve their goals, whether these be personal, familial or professional. Behind this work there are aliances and projects that will be seen in the very near future, about which we'll talk about nearer the time.

Thank you very much for your interest in getting to know us and hopefully through Global Voices more women will be encouraged to add their voice to our community. Together we can make a difference.

Claudia is also a blogger [es] and she tweets under @LaClau [es]. You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Facebook [es], Twitter, [es] YouTube [es], and LinkedIn [es].

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