Nine-year-old Heyley Cuzo was standing in a restaurant parking lot, waiting for her sister and brother-in-law to pick up dinner, when an intoxicated Hispanic man approached her and molested her. Cuzo, now a Gallatin freshman 10 years later, is sharing her story for the first time on her new blog, ForWomenByAWoman, a campaign to raise awareness for women who are victims of rape and sexual assault and who are deprived of basic rights.
Cuzo used social media to build a team of NYU students to contribute to the blog as journalists and photographers.
“I want [the people on my team] to do something in order for the NYU community to be aware that even though it is the 21st century, women outside of America are still struggling, and women in America are struggling as well,” Cuzo said.
ForWomenByAWoman launched on March 1, featuring news stories, profiles, opinion pieces, links to articles and promotions for charity organizations that focus on the prevalence of female oppression and the importance of ending it. A recent post covered the protest on March 8 in Washington Square Park by
feminist grassroots organization WORD, Women Organized to Resist and Defend.
To expand the blog’s content, Cuzo will cover feminism-themed events throughout the city. She has also enlisted writers to interview businesswomen, female victims of violence, women who work at nonprofit organizations and fellow NYU students creating their own awareness campaigns.
“I do believe in her mission of giving women a voice and really just helping them pick themselves up and make lives for themselves without having to actually rely on men,” said LSP freshman Fehbe Meza, a contributing writer for the blog who hopes to write a series of features on female entrepreneurs for ForWomenByAWomen.
In the coming months, Cuzo hopes to host events in Washington Square Park and Union Square. Panels will feature speeches from women across the world raising awareness for the hardships that women face in their home countries.
“I feel like everyone in America is very into what their career and what their passion is, but I feel like we forget what is going on outside of America,” she said.
Cuzo’s long-term goal is to launch a company that will allow women in impoverished countries to gain independence and profit from selling handcrafted items from their home country.
“In a lot of impoverished countries, women aren’t allowed to own property … and property gives you a lot of power,” she said. “I want to help women become entrepreneurs because I want them to become more powerful.”
The blog’s message has served as inspiration for CAS freshman Ian Yeaple, a regular reader of the blog.
“She’s being a voice for everybody else who has gone through similar experiences and hasn’t been able to find the strength to share it, or do some positive action to show that,” Yeaple said. “Despite what happens to women, or people at all, they can stand up and do something about it and make a positive impact.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 11 print edition. Nicole Del Mauro is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]