Mercedes Acevedo lives in a rural community in Nicaragua. At the age of 20, she is exceptional. In a country where a mere 7 per cent of rural women complete secondary education, Mercedes is now attending secondary school and is eager to pursue further university studies. Mercedes was offered the possibility of entering secondary school through Dianova Nicaragua. And this has changed her life.
On March 12th, she came to New York to share her life experience during a side event – ¨Education, Gender and Maternal Health: Social and Public Goods¨ – organized by Dianova and other partner organizations in the margins of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She was able to give her speech in the English language.
An Empowered Young Woman
Mercedes lives in the department of Carazo in Nicaragua, a Southwestern region of the country, next to the Atlantic coast. The youngest of five children in a poor rural family, Mercedes’s prospects of receiving a good education were bleak. In spite of this, she has always wanted to turn the traditional model of gender roles on its head. In a country where most rural women end up as homemakers dependent on their husbands, Mercedes has always yearned for an education ever since she can remember. Her objective has always been to advance socially and academically.
Due to economic reasons and family problems, Mercedes had to quit her studies in 2005 before completing elementary school. During five years she couldn’t attend school because she would have had to face a four-hour bus and walking journey before reaching the nearest school; and her parents wouldn’t have been able to afford the additional cost. In 2011, she finally joined Dianova’s Esther del Río Las Marías school where she could complete basic secondary education. Currently Mercedes is going to high school in grade ten and at the same time she is attending the first year of agricultural studies. As she comes from an isolated rural area, she is a resident student at Esther del Río Las Marías school.
During those years at Dianova’s school, Mercedes has been able to learn the prescribed subjects but, most importantly, she could grow emotionally, improve her self-esteem and self-confidence and become more ambitious. Mercedes confessed that:
¨I came to Dianova to study, that was what I did it and continue doing every day. I take everything Dianova has to offer, I take it because I know it is the basis of my personal growth. Before entering Dianova’s school, I have no idea how to use a computer, how to turn it on. Now, I can use the basic software, do my homework, prepare and print reports. This is a new experience for me and it fascinates me more and more every day.¨
Mercedes chose to study subjects likely to improve her employability. She chose to study English and basic computer science while attending additional technical courses such as hairdressing, manicure and pedicure techniques, and basic household electricity. Moreover, she has enrolled in the agricultural technical program. As she comes from the countryside, Mercedes is familiarized with agricultural work. By attending the technical courses, she is eager to learn about new work techniques and protect the country’s natural resources.
In the upcoming future, she would like to pursue her dreams and study tourism and languages at the university. In her own words,
¨My success will allow me to show that women from my community are capable human beings, to demonstrate that the keystone of success is our will to succeed, to set our own goals and strive to achieve them. In other words, to believe in ourselves. ¨
Mercedes has had the opportunity to travel to New York and visit the ¨big apple¨. She was fascinated with the city’s big buildings, crowds and shopping malls. Back home, she will continue with her education and she’ll have the opportunity to change her destiny, to have a better life and improve the society she grew up in. For education not only benefits the individual being educated; it also leads to higher rates of growth for the person’s environment as a whole. Education is a social and public good.
Dianova Nicaragua and Rural Women