The Everywoman Project helps tell the stories of the common women who refuse to accept the adversity dealt them by either mankind or misfortune. Yet, it is not only the capacity to alter their own path that makes these ordinary women extraordinary, it is also their deep commitment to action, to advocate for or initiate social change, and in so doing improve the lives of countless others.
Elsa Gladys Colqui is one of these truly extraordinary women. Inspired by what we heard from friends, colleagues, and fellow women’s advocates we journeyed to Jujuy Province in northwest Argentina to meet her, and hopefully make a record of her life’s story.
At the time, December 2018, two events with significant but coincidental relevance to our trip dominated the Argentine news media. The first, actress Thelma Fardin’s public admission that she was a victim of sexual violence. Her story of being raped in 2009 when she was fourteen by a fellow actor was picked up and supported by the Argentina’s #metoo movement. The second, what many believe to be the politically motivated trial of Jujuy’s indigenous activist and political leader Milagro Sala, was also front-page news.
With these two stories in the background we set out on the final leg of our travel from San Salvador de Jujuy to San Pedro for our meeting with Elsa. Along with us in the shared taxi were two women, one identifying herself as a feminist, and the other, a political supporter of Milagros Salas! After a few miles, the news became the conversation, occasionally interrupted with a few unselfconsciously lewd and sexist jokes by the driver. Though he did offer a sincere apology, it was only after he recognized that his taste in humor was clearly in the minority.
As we continued the drive, the conversation became more personal. Through sharing those similar struggles, we all realized that no one woman in Argentina, regardless of class, race or riches is immune to the threat of sexual violence. Our new friends were happy that we were headed to meet Elsa. And we were proud to be able to help tell her story.