In 2011, my country honored Dilma Rousseff as the first woman President. As a former activist and community leader, Dilma is making history and changing the odds for Latinas. Her history of being a “rebel”, as some would say, is a reminder that we all must take baby steps towards making a huge impact on others.
Brasil’s first female president, Dilma Rouseff was born in a lower-middle income family. Her father was a Bulgarian immigrant and her mother was a school teacher. By the age of 16, Dilma first started getting involved in political issues such as helping the working class. By 1970, she was arrested and faced extreme torture during her 3 year inprisionment. After being released, she acquired a degree in economics and entered politics were she developed a reptutation around her focus for public good. As she prepared to become the first female president, Dilma also overcame lymphoma, a type of cancer.
What does Dilma Rousseff represent? Imagine being a female activist in the 60s, where men and women were not entirely considered equal. Then picture yourself spending three years in prison where you were brutally tortured – mentally and physically. Now imagine going forward with your life and using your experiences, pain, struggles, and story to make an impact on others. Dilma has set an example for women all over the world. Life can present you with some obstacles that seem so overwhelming, but there is always a new path you can choose.
Because ourPresident is a woman, the country will also have new views and realistic opinions on gender relations. For our entire lives, decisions made by men have impacted the lives of women. Our voices have never been as accurately represented as they will be now. As our previous president’s handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff puts Brazilians on an optimistic path towards positivity.
Aside from the economic impact she will make, Dilma has a new, much more meaningful purpose to our youth. As a woman who endured struggle, she went on to become the first female president. This very woman questioned authority, suffered alongside other citizens, and dealt with life-threatening health issues that make her easier to relate. It’s hard to imagine your destiny being determined by someone who has led a priviledged and perfect life. But Dilma has felt it all. Alongside these struggles, Dilma Rousseff is a divorced mother. The simple idea that a divorced mother is leading this country makes me smile.
During a recent visit to Harvard University, Dilma was asked what advice she would give to girls around the world, who look to her as a role model. Happily, President Rousseff smiled and responded:
“Be certain that you CAN. During my electoral campaign, a woman and her child approached me at the airport. She was a young mom and the child was a girl. She recognized me from television, so the girl came up to me and asked. ‘Can girls?’I responded, ‘Can girls what?’‘Be president?’‘They can! They can!’
When I was little, girls didn’t dream of becoming a president. I dreamed of being one of two things: a ballerina or a firefighter. Yes, I wanted to put out fires. Today, I know girls in Brasil have a third option, they can dream of becoming the President of Brasil. They can also dream of being the president of Harvard.”