Women's Main Barrier Is Fear

Anonymous Heroes
' Women's Main Barrier Is Fear '
Mildred Dolores Mata is a human rights activist and social worker.

Mildred demystifies the neoliberal model. Ensures that society punishes poverty and economic stringency. "[Society] considers that we must be perfect."

R. Medina Grisbel
grisbel.medina [at] listindiario.com
Santo Domingo

At the age of 18, Mildred Dolores Mata (Mildrilla to their closest friends) opted for freedom. Three years earlier she was engaged in the Revolutionary Committee Camilo Torres, a political movement that led her to an early visit to countryside communities to discuss gender equality, to combat marginalization with education.

She is a social worker specialized in [social] equity and gender equality, who is part of the Núcleo de Apoyo a la Mujer [NGO]. Because of fear of her being raped or killed in the country fields, her mother Nuris, advised her to not study a career that has allowed her to educate a new masculinity, emotional intelligence, conflict management, municipalism and gender, sexuality, children rights, in short, multiple subjects, which she believes are purposely overshadowed by the Dominican political power.

Without any complexes, this woman of short stature and enormous intelligence heads the Department of Social Work of the Domestic Violence and Gender Unit [in Santiago, Dominican Republic]. Mildred is a human rights activist with a head crowned with grey hair that she has not coloured since 1996. Born in Laguna Salada, municipality of the Valverde province. She deals, subtlety and without loosing her temper, painful subjects and very delicate issues.

Being part of Promoción Campesina she taught classes in the Seminar Santo Cura de Ars. She laughs when considering that she has no ill devotion and she has always had one foot between religion and communism. She even had taught sexual education to nuns.

For Mildred, sexuality is not the sexuality marketed by the media. "I have respect and tenderness for sexuality. I do not buy sex as sin and I do not listen to those who despise the [human] body and want to control others," she dispatches.

On her desk, tragedies are handled. One morning she received some relatives of a child with disabilities who have been abused by many young people in the municipality La Sierra. This is one of nearly 200 stories that are aired daily in the office building.

Atypical for the conservative dislike, she is a Social Studies teacher, researcher and facilitator of dozens of projects, always linked to care and prevention of domestic violence, municipality, sexual and reproductive rights, among other topics. "In my lectures I always talk about someone who is screwed. Advocating for women, people of the bateyes, people with disabilities, people who nobody wants," she confesses continuously. She threw herself working in the country field, with people who have nothing and offers everything; having coffee with the misery and coexisting with the economic stringency that is deepened by the neoliberal model. And she considers herself as happy, free and fearless, which to her view it's "women's main barrier." In Santiago, she leads talks aimed at men with violent behaviour (she corrects to not call them male aggressors). And makes it clear that the culture of violence is fomented by religion, by music, literature, throughout society.

For Women
Her fights for her kind are many, conscious and consistent. In an article published in A Primera Plana, a journal of the Dominican Association of Journalists with Gender Perspective, cited 25 reasons why the Dominican society does not love women. In her judgement, the majority in society usually are only interested in keep an eye on women, to not let them get pregnant, to not let them love without the consent of others, and if they would "love", must be by convenience. Moreover, according to this, Mata's publication, Dominican society cares to control women's body and to not let them decide what to do with it.

"It is appreciated that everything about women is bad, ugly and should be hidden. Something as simple as that women should not wash or tend their undergarments where these can be seen. And this is multiplied by the thousand of shame and undervaluation" says the social researcher with a Masters in Gender and Development from Intec. An issue she considers shameful is that some parents receive money from a rapist or abuser to remedy the abuse of a child or adolescent.

Many Dominican women live in Mildred. Lives the consecrated daughter, the committed Dominican woman, the courageous woman, the struggling mother, the caring friend, the strong companion, the beloved wife, cherished, respected. Her greatest abundance is knowledge, she repeated while saying goodbye. It's that she loves to read, write, serve, make, undertake. She decided to be free early and she truly is.

Mildred Dolores Mata: Woman and Citizen
Her battle ensigns are: women's human rights, the right to a peaceful and free life and sexual and reproductive rights. Works for a new masculinity and the rights of Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Her efforts don't exclude the gay community or people with disabilities.

She admires: everyone and everything. She believes in the transformation of people, unless they have incurable genetic damage.

She is accredited to talk about: active citizenship, democracy, social networks, social capital, empowerment, and institution-building, cohesion, solidarity, social gender movements, feminism, a new masculinity, assertive communication, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, conflict management and emotional self-control techniques. She also teaches municipality and gender workshops and conferences, women social participation, sexuality and gender, sexual and reproductive women rights, male responsibility, children rights and education without violence.

[Translation from Spanish made by me... This is my mother]