Election of Miss Rurality

Speech during the election of Miss Rurality in Calacalí. It was especially difficult to write this text because I am opposed to beauty pageants but I consider it important to respect the traditions of rurality.

This is a great celebration of rural women, those who sustain 80 percent of the popular economic enterprises in the city and who play a key role in productivity, those who preserve knowledge and traditions, and jealously guard the identity of our communities.

We have to move away from the stagnant vision of women as objects of worship. Girls must grow up with a model in accordance with our times. The woman we wish to imitate is a brilliant, creative, enterprising woman, capable of facing any challenge, who is not worth for her beauty but for her strength, for her social commitment, for her militant dedication to tenderness. A woman who defends her rights, who knows herself to be equal to men, and who guides society on a path of peace and transparency.

I am opposed on principle to beauty pageants because they highlight an external aspect of human nature, because they consolidate stereotypes. But I have learned to respect the processes of rurality and to understand that each festival is an opportunity to re-signify the territory. The festival is the space of shared celebration, the opportunity to mark the ritual calendar of our communities.

The Inca festivals in which the ñustas were celebrated were central festivities. The adolescent girls or ñustas symbolize the land that has not yet been fertilized, and the promise of a better world.

To be in agreement with our times, each candidate comes to this election with a project for her community. The candidates have been invited to promote actions aimed at promoting gender equality. Similarly, they have been encouraged to present ideas to help prevent teenage pregnancy. The Municipality has hundreds of projects aimed at gender and inclusion, and we want this space to be no exception.

I would like to address the 23 extraordinary candidates. You represent all the possibilities, the hopes. With your intelligence, with your tenacity, you are going to shape our communities, you are going to wake us up from the lethargy in which we find ourselves, you are going to mark out the path that we must all follow, you are going to fight against inequalities and help us banish all forms of discrimination or harassment. I had the opportunity to talk to you. I congratulate you because in addition to your beauty you have the intelligence and clarity to become leaders, vibrant and active models of what women should be. Don’t deny yourselves the right to be tender, but don’t let our still unequal society tell you that you are less capable or that you should settle for lower wages, or that your place is only in the home. Your beauty will open doors for you, that is the way our society works, but it will also make you vulnerable to all kinds of predators. Turn the gift of your beauty into a strength, turn this podium that life offers you into a powerful and determined voice. Always speak your mind and stand up for the justice, pride, dignity and wisdom of women. Please be deeply proud of where you come from, of the region where you were born, of the family around you, proud of your community. Study or work, but become experts in the local, the guardians of the traditions and wisdom that your mothers and grandmothers have entrusted to you. And remember that having deep roots in your community allows you to project yourself to the world.  Use the tools that technology offers you but do not forget that the land, the territory is our greatest wealth. Agri-culture is the greatest culture, the one that contains all the other possibilities and cultures. Defend our forests, our rivers, our air.  Without them we would be infinitely poor.

Rurality is the pride of Quito. Without rurality our multiple and diverse identity would be seriously impoverished.

I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart and wish you that your participation and success in this election will open a thousand doors for you, and above all the possibility of being agents of change in our society, not during this year, but throughout your life.

The other Secretaries and I have long since received the express instruction of the Mayor of Quito to prioritize rurality. We are aware that the historical debt to rurality is enormous, but all the municipal institutions are aligned in the task of serving them and helping them to articulate their requirements and solve their needs. The Secretary of Territorial Coordination is ready to be the bridge with all the municipal instances.

The Secretary of Culture organizes the Cantor de mi Parroquia and the Baila Parroquia, processes of wide appeal for the rural artists, and helps to implement the Encuentro de las Culturas de las Parroquias Rurales. We have already worked several years with the Kitu Kara people in the construction of memories and reflections on rurality. I have expressed to Juan Carlos, our host president, the desire that this Encounter be an encounter and not just the major event of rurality. I hope that with your help, distinguished presidents of the rural Gads and ancestral communes, we can give it that character.

I had the luck and privilege of growing up in the village of Quinche, and the opportunity to photograph widely the rural environment of Ecuador, in my profession as a photographer. I am a lover of rural life and I am thrilled to be here in front of you.

Let us celebrate our rurality, the one that nourishes us in body and spirit, the one that reminds us that it is not possible to project ourselves into the future if we do not know where we come from, without feeling proud of our elders and the mark they left on our soul. May this year’s be the best Encuentro de las Culturas de las Parroquias Rurales. Let us celebrate our shared history. And long live rurality!