Women’s History Month is about recognizing the amazing contribution that Women, along with Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary humans, have on society. Today, you can find people of various backgrounds pushing for equality and representation through their work. This month, we are hearing from fellow creators and bosses about what they’re experiences.
Sesamae Riquelme is the founder of She of Strength, a website whose goal “is to make all young women conscious of their value, ability, knowledge, power, and perspective while motivating all women to support them”.
“I started my leadership path at the age of 13 by creating a program for children to learn the life-skill of empathy called Santa's Little Helpers. I have a passion for politics and advocate for mental health. I am also the Youth Commissioner for her local region and on the county Mental Health Task Force. In addition to all of this, I am also an actress who has appeared in several short films, movies, and commercials.”
What gave you the inspiration to start She Of Strength?
After the presidential election in 2016, at the age of 16, I saw that young women needed hope and support. I could not sit around and do nothing. I tried adding my voice to the millions of other women and created the She of Strength website. It is a resource for young women to feel connected and for older women to know their role in the next generation.
What does your organization She Of Strength encompass?
S.O.S goal is to give all young women information and resources and to show young women that they are not alone; that there are others out there just like them. Our other goal is to give mentors ideas and advice on how to connect with young women.
What do you think needs to be done in order for young women to gain the respect they deserve?
Young women need to learn their value sooner. Often times, it takes us a while to realize what we deserve and what we deserve is respect. Learn to speak your damn mind. Women also need to recognize that we need to support each other.
Do you find that your opinions and views on specific situations, for example, politics, go unnoticed because of your age?
Absolutely. I have noticed in one of my positions in being part of a committee, often older men refer to me as “sweetheart” or “darling”. They refer to everyone else by their title. A lot of time people think I’m less educated on political issues and it takes time to remind them that I might know more than they do. One example is when I was at the state senate, one of the State Representatives asked me if I wanted to “Snapchat this” when I was lobbying for change. He was implying that me being a teenage girl, my life revolved around social media.
How does it feel being a progressive person living in a smaller town?
For a majority of my life, it felt like I don’t think as the other people around me did. I am still in high school and I would rather go to a rally than a hockey game. I would rather go to a concert than a football game. I will say that it’s important that no matter where you live, you need to find your community of people who think like you. It’s possible to find them, but depending on the town size, it may just be a little harder.
What are ways that you, yourself are being an ally for women and/or GNB/GNC who identify as a POC?
This is a really hard question because I have never felt like I’ve done enough. I can say that the best way to be an ally is to continue to listen and learn. That is something that I know I will never stop doing. When I see a woman crying in the bathroom instead, of saying it’s none of my business, I always ask them if they are ok. Yes, this is a real example. I don’t know how people can just walk away. I also started my website for the purpose of supporting women so I guess that’s something.
Do you believe that the new wave of Women’s Rights supporters are handling the situation of gaining equal rights well?
We won’t always agree with everyone but it’s important to recognize what we are achieving. Women were expected to be submissive and sit in the background but now we have more women in Congress now than we ever have had, we have movements that are validating survivors and victims and holding men accountable and so with all of that, I think. overall. we are kicking butt.
How are you using your modeling and acting careers as a way to empower women?
I have to be honest, sometimes it feels difficult to be selective on the jobs that are being offered because it can feel like there are not a lot out there, but I always choose things that I will be proud of in the end, keeping in mind that younger generations will be seeing my work. I actively seek out roles that mean something to me. In the past, I was in a short film that had an all-women crew, I was in a movie that was about an eating disorder and another one that dealt with a woman’s depression. I am also proud to have participated in a campaign that celebrates diversity and all body shapes.
Follow Sesamae on Instagram to see the strides she's making for Women the world!