Young professionals in Marianas marched for HERS

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Young people sending the message about women empowerment. Photo © Lyn Lirio

THE Marianas Young Professionals held its second annual march for Health Economic security, Representation and Safety, which aims to educate the community on women’s issues, at the American Memorial Park on Saturday last week.

Before the HERS march, four different speakers discussed issues on women’s.

Sheila Babauta, MYPros board director, said the dialogue is meant to spark a conversation about women’s issues.

“People need to learn about these issues that affect women in the CNMI because these issues create barriers. These barriers prevent us from thriving as a community,” Babauta said in a later interview.

Discussing the women’s health was Medical Director of Public Health Dr. Phuong Luu, who expressed alarm that more women in the CNMI are not taking care of their health.

“Women are the backbone of the society. If the women are healthy, they can take care of their family, children, and the community,” she said.

Despite the many health programs from the community organizations, Public Health and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, there are still women who don’t avail of the programs, the doctor said.

Tracy Narita encourages women to dream. Photo © Lyn Lirio

Tracy Narita, who works at the Office of the Governor as technical financial analyst, spoke about empowering women.

“I want everybody to have a dream, to have a vision for themselves and then make a plan and act on it because that is the only way dreams can be achieved. There’s also mentorship that is involved in that and one needs the right support. One must also know that one is worthy to achieve their dream,” she said.

Narita told the audience, which was comprised mostly of high school students, that she had her life planned – going to college and getting a career. But her plan was stalled when she got pregnant at 17.

Nevertheless, after giving birth, she continued her studies and got a degree.

“Overcoming adversity is like overcoming your fears and learning to get through that. I believe your fears are learned and so learn to overcome it. Just get out of your comfort zone, really that’s where all our success lies. It takes time. Everybody’s journey is different, you just have to learn from it and overcome it,” Narita encouraged the students.

In a succeeding interview, Narita said having an event that hold discussions for women is important.

“We always need encouragement. We need encouragement from people to attain the level of success that you want and you want to know it is attainable for you and the only way to do that is reaching out,” she said.

Tina Sablan discusses gender disparity. Photo © Lyn Lirio

Tina Sablan, meanwhile, discussed about representation of women in the government. She noted the disparity of women and men running in the public office.

“My goal for today for a lifetime is getting more women into elected office in the commonwealth,” she said.

She noted that in the 20th Legislature, of the 29 seats in the Senate and the House, only three are occupied by women.

“The biggest hurdle of gender disparity in running for public office is because women just are not running,” she said.

“We have lots of young women who should be nurtured and encouraged to think about leadership roles right now in their own community,” she added.

For her part, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence executive director Maisie B. Tenorio talked about domestic violence.

“Living with domestic violence is dark, lonely and cold. One victim of domestic violence described it ‘as a trap, not only in my home and but also in my soul’,” Tenorio said.

Tenorio defined domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior to control the other. She also discussed the cycle pattern of abusive relationship and the batterer’s abusive behavior.

“There are so many kinds of abusive behavior that batterer use it can be physical, sexual or emotional. Sometimes it is the emotional abuse that hurts the most. When somebody is breaking your heart and soul, it takes time to heal, she said.

She appeals to the community to respond to domestic violence victims with understanding and compassion.

Moreover, she urged everyone to give resources and help them show that there are people that could help.

“Engage yourself in action many people are angered and horrified by domestic violence but are not willing to act. We have to move ourselves from feeling really bad to doing something about it,” Tenorio asked her listeners.

She also appealed to people to show model and healthy behaviors to young people.

“Show our young people what it is like to be in a healthy relationship.”

After the dialogue, participants went on to the march carrying the banners which expressed their concerns on women’s issues.

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