Maya Angelou

Are you a phenomenal woman? I am.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014), is a renowned poet, storyteller, auto-biographer, playwright, journalist, and actress born in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), also shared a passion for radio journalism. She was a strong activist who contributed to the civil rights movement and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

She published volumes of poetries, essays, and plays, as well as many children, cook, and picture books.

Her work includes seven extraordinary autobiographies: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, Gather Together in my Name, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, and Mom and Me and Mom. 

Moreover, on January 20th, 1993, at the Presidential Inauguration of Bill Clinton, she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” this recitation being the second time at a similar event that something of this kind was done. (Robert Frost recited “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration). 

Several of her writings received merited awards and honours from over seventy universities like the University of Arkansas, Ohio State University, Atlanta University, and others. 

Here is one of her poems. Phenomenal Woman.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips

The stride of my step.

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman.

Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash

A Role Model: Matilde Lindo Crisanto

Being a Nicaraguan Caribbean woman means you need to be more aware of your identity.

The International Day Against Women Violence was celebrated on the 25ht of November. Globally, many women took the streets or social media platforms to demonstrate once more that this pandemic affects all of us. A lot of women and girls have been victims of gender-based violence at home, at work, on the streets, and in other places. On the other hand, we also have many women leaders who campaign to put stop to this knotty issue that exists in our society.

After ending my bachelor’s degree, I returned to my hometown and started to participate in the Nidia White Women Movement activities, which protect women and girls against violence by giving advice, shelter, and legal accompanied during the process. Its office is located near my house. I knew several of the women who worked there. One was Matilde Lindo Crisanto, a strong Garifuna woman, active, and firm with her statements regarding women’s rights.

Lindo was the second of three siblings. Her father was Harold Lindo and her mother was Imogene Crisanto. After graduating from high school, she studied at the normal school in Waspan to become a teacher. Upon ending this period, she worked in the rural areas with the Miskito and Sumu communities. I recall Matilde being a teacher during my high school years. She taught Geography to both of my sisters at the Moravian Hight School, Juan Amos Comenius.  

My second sister remembers her like this. “Lindo was my geography teacher during my first year in high school in Nicaragua. She taught me Nicaraguan and Central American geography. Due to her passion for teaching the class, I grew to love the subject. It was definitely one of my favourites in high school. Beyond being a teacher, she was an advocate against violence. She voiced herself and fought for women’s rights and equality. Her voice was heard in and out of the classroom. It propelled in the community she served”.

Besides being a teacher, she was a fervent woman’s rights activist who stood up defending women of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. She began involving herself in the feminist movement during the late 80s, by participating in meetings, workshops, and conferences.

Furthermore, in 1995, she participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing. Lindo was also a member of the Women’s Network’s Against Violence, an active member at the Creole Moravian Church, and the National Women Movement.

Shira Miguel, who is the coordinator of the Nidia White Movement where Lindo also worked, remembers her as a passionate woman. She expresses to Women Wheel that when she arrived at the movement, Lindo told her “This is not an easy road. First, when you talk about human rights especially women’s rights; there are lots of people who do not agree with it. Second, be clear that being in a feminist space does not mean that there is no discrimination, being a Caribbean Black or Indigenous woman is not the same as the rest”.

Moreover, Lindo stressed that violence was structural and that women violence in the Caribbean of Nicaragua was not the same as the one on Pacific Coast, which she said loudly and repeatedly on many occasions. Lindo’s trajectory as an activist is not only for the women of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, it’s also at a national level; thus we should embrace and learn from her legacy.

Lindo said, “I am from the black culture, we come from a tradition of the Goodness, queen of the nature, a tradition that reflects our way of being and practices”.

I would like each one of you to think of a black woman in your community who has been a role model for your actions, thoughts, and motivation as a black female. Join moving women stories by sharing your story with us!

25th of November

Gender-based violence is a pandemic.

Photo: Julie Schroell

Today as we take the streets or social media platforms on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women let our voice be loud saying: this pandemic needs to stop.

I am proud to present this interview to Susanna Viljanmaa produced by PlusCollective. The production team was composed of Gloria De Felice, Susanna Viljanmaa, and Shirlene Green Newball.

Los pañuelos que usa el movimiento feminista tienen su historia y razón.

Los pañuelos verdes y púrpura: Símbolo del feminismo

Foto: Kimmo Lehtonen

El pañuelo es el accesorio infaltable y el más visible en las manifestaciones feministas. Desde que me uní al movimiento feminista fui testigo de la diversidad de formatos y accesorios que se usan para expresar ideas, anuncios, manifiestos, denuncias. En Paisajes discursivos en movimiento: análisis de la manifestación feminista del 8 de marzo de 2020 en Barcelona de Marín y Ribas (2020), se estudian el uso de las pancartas colectivas, los carteles individuales, las corporalizaciones, performances, pintadas, así como el de otros objetos y accesorios.

“Muchas manifestantes llevan camisetas, banderas en forma de capa, bolsas, pañuelos, coleteros y todo tipo de accesorios y maquillajes de este color con una única función: marcar su alineación y pertenencia al movimiento feminista” (Marín & Ribas, 2020, p.19).

¿Pero cuál es la historia del uso de los pañuelos? ¿Por qué nos hemos apropiado de ellos?

El uso del pañuelo verde se inició en Argentina en el 2005 con la campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, luego conocido cortamente como `La Campaña´. El movimiento feminista se inspiró en los pañuelos blancos que usan las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, las cuales protestan por sus hijas e hijos desaparecidos durante la dictadura de 1976-1983 en Argentina (Felitti & Romero, 2020).

El movimiento feminista eligió el color verde para luchar por los derechos reproductivos y sexuales, y más profundamente por el autoempoderamiento de nuestro cuerpo. Además, porque el color no esta relacionado a ningún partido político. El color verde significa “equilibrio, primavera, esperanza, razón, lógica, naturaleza, vegetación y crecimiento” (Molina, 2010 p. 6). El pañuelo verde se convirtió en el arma de lucha para las mujeres para decidir interrumpir un embarazo sin censura de ningún tipo ya sea de la sociedad o el sistema patriarcal. Es un símbolo de lucha por el aborto legal.

En el siguiente clip del programa La Marca del Almohadón de Radio Universidad Nacional de Rosario publicado el 29 de abril del 2018 puedes escuchar la voz de las mujeres dando más información sobre el pañuelo verde.

Programa La Marca del Almohadón

En el pañuelo se puede leer frases como: aborto legal para no morir, aborto seguro, gratuito, educación sexual para decidir y anticonceptivo para abortar. La Marea Verde frase que se usa para referirse a la campaña se expandió desde Argentina a otros países de América Latina y el Caribe desarrollándose de acuerdo con el contexto de cada país. Pese a las características particulares que la campaña toma en cada país siempre el pañuelo verde es símbolo de la legalización del aborto y de la lucha del movimiento feminista. Por ejemplo, en República Dominicana se ha adaptado para la campaña de #rd3casuales. Hoy en día también se puede ver el uso de este pañuelo en países europeos en solidaridad con la lucha feminista en América Latina (Felitti & Romero, 2020).

El segundo pañuelo del movimiento feminista es el pañuelo púrpura. Su uso se remonta a los pañuelos que portaban las sufragistas en Inglaterra y Estados Unidos como símbolo de su lucha por el derecho al voto e igualdad de derechos políticos para las mujeres. Actualmente el pañuelo color púrpura es uno de los símbolos más importantes del movimiento feminista. El pañuelo es usado en las marchas del 8 de marzo, en congresos o asambleas de mujeres, así como en diversas manifestaciones de lucha por la equidad de género, justicia y desarrollo del movimiento feminista.

Pañuelo Púrpura

El color violeta/púrpura según la psicología del color significa “experiencia, reflexión, sabiduría, independencia, es místico, melancólico, dignidad, realeza y firmeza” ( Molina, 2010, p.6).

A lo largo de estos últimos años he visto que ambos pañuelos se cuelgan del cuello, o se amarran a la muñeca. Los pañuelos no tienen fronteras, han cruzado océanos y países para seguir su lucha. Los pañuelos son locales e internacionales. Recuerdo que para el 8 de marzo Día Internacional de la Mujer del 2020 la Red de Mujeres en Finlandia co-organizamos con otras plataformas una marcha, allí muchas llevamos nuestros pañuelos púrpura o verde.

Los colores y estos pañuelos simbolizan las luchas de las mujeres a lo largo de la historia. Al usar los pañuelos púrpura o verde nos hacemos de ese poder mientras remarcamos nuestro mensaje de lucha. ¿Posees uno de los pañuelos? ¿Cuándo lo usas?

A Stranger from South to East

Stereotypes on the metro of Helsinki is seen day by day.


Have you ever felt like a stranger in your country, hometown, or elsewhere? I had felt it many times, especially when individuals assume that you are not from “this place” because you don’t “look, dress or talk” like the rest. At first, it annoyed me, but now I just apply the mirror question or ignore it.

Helsinki is already diverse; however, I think that there is still more to be done to embrace this diversity from different levels. Two years ago, the New Helsinki Theatre (NHT), was created with the aim to bring together professionals of arts, the audience, and the different theatres, to produce together performing arts that show the richness and varieties of cultures in a venue.

In addition, the New Helsinki Theatre is coordinated by two renowned cultural spaces, with vast experience: Post Theatre Collective and Teatteri Metamorfoosi. In an interview with Davide Giovanzana, one of the founders of TeatteriMetamorfoosi, he said, “One thing that touched me a lot when I started theatre was the community, where a group of people who share the similar dream, ideas, and working together (…), made it happen.

As autumn breaks in with its mixture of colours and variety, so is the New Helsinki Theatre with different activities for the public. Many events are being organized from the middle part of October in the NTH Pop-Up 2021. The first one was the seminar Building Bridges: The concrete action for interculturalism and inclusion in Finnish theatre organized at Arts Promotion Centre Taike´s premises on 15th October by NTH. It was a continuation of the Seminar on Art, Culture, and a Diverse Finland organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture. 

The worlds inclusion and intercultural are trending, but how much do we know about them and how it should be applied to the different fields. Fred Delvin (2017), addressed the terms of interculturality and intercultural as having become confused by only comparing cultures; however, he aims to “train people to work within the continuum of similarity and difference to oscillate between the two” (p.14).

As my conversation flew with Davide he also made a critical point about this topic of building inclusion in the theatre field. “I think there is fear in the Finnish theatre, and it is self-centered (…). The tradition “hyvä veljeys” (brotherhood) affects the actors that didn’t study in Finnish theatre school (…), this mentality affects not only the foreigners (from the theatre) but also the Finnish people”. 

For the ending part of this month, there will more events to attend. From 28.10-28.11, Vuotalo will be the venue of the Pop-Up, it includes the presentation of three performances, The StrangerPunch Up!-Resistance & Glitter, and Eros/sa.  

The Stranger

So, have you recalled feeling being a stranger? If you have not, hop up on this metro journey that we will take from the southern to the eastern side of Helsinki. I am sure that after this trip you will feel related to the stories of the play. 

It was a rainy and grey day when I arrived at TeatteriMetamorfoosi, located in Sörnäinen, Helsinki. I entered a studio that has gray walls and a black floor where five individuals were rehearsing a play that I also became part of while watching. I forget that outside was a gloomy day because the different voices saying 5,6,7…, the body movements, the music beat, and phrases transported me to each scene of the play Stranger

This play directed by Davide Giovanzana, performed by Yasmin Ahsanullah, Maija Ruuskanen, and Anastasia Trizna; light designed by Anssi Ruotanen, and produced by Teatteri Metamorfoosi, describes the story of three women feeling an outsider in their city as they travel in public transportation. These three stories are intertwined with Meursault, the protagonist of the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. The play Stranger portrays many topics, but the main one is “feeling alienated,” said the director.

The timeline of the performance is the Helsinki metro that travels from Tapiola to Mellunmäki in 40 minutes. The play takes an hour is almost real-time of the trip. During this journey, the characters observe the variety of passengers and their economic status. They also experienced being an outsider in their community, by being Othered by other passengers of the metro. 

According to Johnson et al. (2004), Othering is a “process that identifies those that are thought to be different from oneself or the mainstream, and it can reinforce and reproduce positions of domination and subordination”. This process includes stereotyping, racialization, culturalism, discrimination, sexism, essentialism, etc. which divide, create fear, grant privilege, and lack of perspective of “others” in the society.  

So, from the 28th to -31st of October, you are invited to Vuotaloto be part of this play, The Stranger. The objective of the play is that you feel related as the stories evolve and participate in the rave at the end of the play, so you can stop being a victim of the constructed society.

As I ride the metro to meet a friend in the centre of Helsinki, my thoughts are about my life as a stranger in Finland; where I had felt belonged but at the same time rejected, however, I feel that this is one of my home.