March is Women's History Month. There are so many amazing women out there to spotlight and celebrate. It is difficult to choose just one. I have always been drawn to what they call Creative Activism - artists who use their medium as a way to translate a message to the masses. One particular creative activist that I find inspiring is Shakira.
To me, Shakira represents female empowerment. She exudes sexuality, but not a docile kind of beauty, but a rather strong and confident one. You can see her confidence in action performing such hits as Can't Remember to Forget You and Hips Don't Lie. She is also an amazing dancer who brought a unique blend of belly dancing and Merengue to the international spotlight. But what many of you may not know is that Shakira is the Founder of the non-profit organization Pies Descalzos.
The Pies Descalzos Foundation was started by Shakira when she was just 18. Shakira grew up in Baranquilla, Colombia. Colombia is a vast and beautiful place, but unfortunately is is rife with an armed internal conflict between government and guerillas. Drug trafficking and the temptation to move out of poverty by seeking this career is persistent. To counter this, Shakira created a foundation that helps uplift communities through education.
Education can be difficult to receive in Colombia for many reasons. A main obstacle is displacement of families due to the conflict. Many families are forced to move from urban centers and flee into less developed areas of the country to avoid armed fighting. Many of these areas lack electricity and running water. Often, children are forced to work rather than go to school. By helping to build schools, and making them in a self sufficient way, the temptation to give up education is less all pervasive.
The schools are built to sustain the community. Mothers often work within the school to receive a salary. Today, Shakira's Foundation helps over 28,000 children and their families. The Foundation is currently working to open additional schools in Haiti. Shakira has also partnered with UNICEF and the Global Fund for Education.