Sagraio Ortíz talks to a group of women about the importance of education and empowering each other.
In late June, with the help of the City of Annapolis, Sagrario Ortíz hosted a seminar for women empowerment at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center.Talking to a rather large group, she urged participants to let go of "old baggage" and notions about themselves that made them feel like they couldn't move ahead in life.
"A lot of what we've been told as women back in our countries is that if we didn't comply with certain expectations, we wouldn't accomplish a lot," Ortíz said. "Whether it was getting married at a young age or being told we wouldn't accomplish something we wanted, if we don't break from notions from the past, we will continue to teach that to our children and generations to come."
One day, Ortíz was sitting at a beach in her native Dominican Republic when she began to toy with the idea of "El Poder de Ser Mujer" (meaning, the power of being a woman) for a title. As a writer and entrepreneur herself, she had written multiple books, one of them which would later be published with the same name.
Ortíz moved to the United States in early 2014. She started talking about her book to women in the Washington, D.C., area, where she lived, and that's when she was convinced that this was something she had to pursue.
"I did some research and according to studies, realized that when it comes to leadership, our community is behind by 30 years," Ortíz said. "Taking a deeper look into our culture, I found statistics that showed that young Hispanics/Latinos were following a similar path as their family members who migrated to the States, turning this into a vicious cycle."
She started to launch activities around leadership development and empowerment geared towards women in the Hispanic/Latino community. Motivated by the statistics, and drawing from her personal experience, Ortíz launched El Poder de Ser Mujer as a non-profit that offers workshops and resources for women.
"Through my research, I came to the conclusion that the only way for our community to move forward and catch up is through education," she said. "In the first event I ever had, I invited different resources from the community to educate women on topics like how to prepare for college or how to start your own business, among other things."
One of the most successful programs offered by the organization programs is Emprende Mujer, which focuses on teaching power empowerment, capacity building, and financial education and training. Over 700 women and men have participated in this program and more than 70 businesses have been opened in Maryland, Washington and Virginia as a result.
"Although the program was created for women, we do have some men participate," she explained. "We don't consider ourselves feminists, but we do believe in equality and respect."
Myriam Figueroa, VP of the organization, said it's important for women to come together and empower each other."By nature, women give to others constantly without ever taking the time to give towards themselves," she said. "Our organization believes in helping women how to pause for a little bit and connect with themselves first and what's important for them.
We also think it's fundamental to educate women because without education, we can't access opportunities or thrive. We organize events as an opportunity for women to learn about development, personal and professional, and empower each other."
Rossybel Gomez, who works as a client representative at the Center for Help, attended the seminar in hopes that she would learn something that would help her connect with other women who often come to her for help.
"If I make time to attend seminars like these and educate myself a little more, I can transmit what I've learned to other women to help them thrive," she said. "I, too, believe education can lead to success. I also think it's important that we help each other and share our knowledge because otherwise we won't grow or progress."
This year, El Poder de Ser Mujer held its fifth business expo, which serves as a space for immigrant entrepreneurs to interact with others and find the necessary resources to build their business. Ortíz said she is working on hosting more regular events that continue to promote the fundamental objective of her organization of promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of the Hispanic/Latino community.
Leave Your Comments