Promoting gender equality in Latin America
Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas [Great Latin American Women] is a result of the collaborative work between Dr Lauren Rea, Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Cultures, and Euhen Matarozzo, director of Billiken (Argentina). This partnership began with the publication of the illustrated children’s book 100 Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas, as the flagship product to commemorate Billiken's centenary. For the Great Latin American Women project, the co-directors brought together a team of creative industries professionals, academic researchers and primary school teachers to create grandesmujeres.lat.
This digital educational platform is designed to promote gender equality amongst primary school children across the region by making visible the diverse contributions of leading Latin American women, past and present. The open access platform hosts over 400 resources including downloadable classroom activities, reference material and short animated films. The resources cover different curriculum areas—Language, Social and Natural Sciences, Maths, Art, and Diversity, Equality and Inclusion—taking twenty women’s lives and work as the starting point. As project co-director Lauren Rea explained, "The resources are very varied because the trajectories of each of our protagonists are also very different. Each woman allows us to take a different route, bringing richness and diversity to the learning process". The project responds to two of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN, Quality Education and Gender Equality, and received support from the UKRI GCRF Collective Fund.
The project was launched on Tuesday 23 November at the Centro Cultural Kirchner in Buenos Aires. The event was attended by education and culture leaders and officials, including Dr. Silvina Gvirtz, National Secretary of Education, and Enrique Avogadro, Minister for Culture of the City of Buenos Aires. Also in attendance were the Mexican Ambassador, Lilia Eugenia Rossbach Suárez, and the Head of Cultural Affairs, Héctor Orestes Aguilar, as well as representatives of the Paraguayan Embassy.
During the presentation, the co-directors interviewed two of the Great Women featured in the project, Dr Andrea Gamarnik, the virologist known for her research on the dengue virus and head of the laboratory that developed the first Argentine antibody test for COVID-19, and Mirta Toledo, internationally renowned Argentine visual artist, whose work revolves around diversities and Afro-descendant culture. Both underlined the importance of addressing gender equality in schools and praised the quality of the project’s educational resources. Later, in conversation with Billiken, Andrea Gamarnik said: "I found the platform beautiful and extremely useful. It opens the door to access information in a broader way. I am very happy to have participated in this project". Mirta Toledo said that the platform "makes clear the work of women, who have contributed to society and whose contribution was so often hidden or concealed behind a man, so it is very important that Billiken does this".
In closing the presentation, project co-director, and Director of Billiken, Euhen Matarozzo, spoke about the impact that the collaboration with Lauren Rea has had on Billiken more widely. "This project arose at a time when Billiken was rethinking its future. In this process of redesigning our brand (so beloved by generations of Argentines and Latin Americans) we realised that we had to evolve not only towards new media, but also towards new narratives and new products. In this process of change, the collaboration between academia and industry was fundamental, and led, among other things, to Billiken re-establishing the link with the world of education. We started working again with teachers and we also created new links with the audiovisual industry, taking another step forward in the offer of new platforms for our new content".
The presentation of the project ended with a reception and there, in a conversation with Billiken, Héctor Orestes Aguilar, Cultural Attaché of the Mexican Embassy in Argentina and former director of Strategic Analysis of Education Policy at the Mexican Ministry of Education. In conversation with Billiken, he said: "I found the platform to be extraordinary. I was particularly interested in this presentation because it combines an eminently educational theme within the context of a magazine with such a broad, deep cultural tradition as Billiken has. A magazine that in Mexico shaped at least three generations of readers and had a very important impact on Mexican writers of the stature of José Emilio Pacheco". He added that, "it is exciting to see how Billiken is presenting a project that has an absolute educational relevance, such as the visibility of the work of great Latin American women in the history of culture, science, academia and sport".
At the reception, Billiken also spoke with Paulina Domínguez, coordinator of Institutional Relations at the Centro Cultural Kirchner, who said: "As a pedagogical proposal, the platform is incredible and supports thinking about new forms of education in this new context. And above all, I think it is very important to highlight the voices of women in Latin America, who have contributed so much to the world. We have great scientists, artists, thinkers, mathematicians and it is really important for schools to take them into account".
Marcelo Theyler, host of the programme "Education and Technology", who also attended the event, said he liked "the way the pedagogical tools are presented and the ease of access". He also added: "I think it is an excellent tool, especially the fact that it is free, because one of the main problems for teachers is, when they have to create a class, where to get content that gives it life and allows them to create a motivating, interactive and attractive class for their students".
Alexandra Calderón, director of DOKUMA, also attended the presentation of grandesmujeres.lat. Speaking to Billiken, she said: "I think the most interesting thing is the research and the philosophy behind the project; the focus on highlighting women and all the work they have done in Latin America. Also, something to highlight is the cross-cutting nature of the content, how children in Latin America can learn transversally across different curriculum areas through the platform, and I think that in pedagogical terms this is very valuable. It is wonderful, so all of us from Colombia will be very pleased to encourage and promote the platform so that it is known around the world".
Adapted and translated from an article which first appeared in billiken.lat
Reporting: Julieta Escat
Photos: Fabián Uset
The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.