Q&A: Gallatin Student Leads the Way for Gender Equality in Latin America

Yulin Lou, Staff Writer

Gallatin junior Gerardo Portney was named one of CNN Expansion’s 30 under 40 for his work promoting gender equality, a movement that is revolutionizing Latin America. WSN sat down with Portney to talk about his nonprofit, Youth Minds for Gender Equality, and why he believes so strongly in gender equality.

WSN: How do you feel about being honored by CNN Expansión?

Gerardo Portney: It’s fantastic news. It’s an incentive to keep on doing more of the work that I’m doing. Most people see it as an end, but I see it as a mean, a platform to keep on changing more lives.  It’s good to recognize all of what I have done and take a look at the past. It’s also a look into the future. It’s always about social impact, about who else can I help — who else can I make a difference for.

WSN: What inspired you to fight for gender equality?

GP: I grew up in a house full of empowered female role models, my mom and two sisters, who are my best friends. My father and mother both contribute to the household equally. I went to a UN forum representing Mexico when I was 19. I realized half of the world is eliminated, because of gender. I don’t understand how can we continue in any of the fields, socially, politically, economically and politically, if half of our team is not sitting on the bench. That doesn’t make sense.

WSN: What’s the goal of Youth Minds for Gender Equality?

GP: Youth Minds for Gender Equality is calling for all the youth to create innovative partnership, innovative solutions and innovative concepts for gender equality. In our language, nowadays, there is really no space in which millennials could think about it in different ways. Right now our voice is not being accounted for, it’s not even being heard. What we need to do is to give that platform, create the empowerment which we can have opportunity to make a difference. Once we start to have an opportunity to make a difference for something, we are so passionate, creative and determined. We will definitely make a strive on it. Without our voice, without the 1.1 billion youth, we are simply not achieving equality today, not tomorrow or anytime.

WSN: What role do you believe men should play in advocating for gender equality?
GP: Gender equality is much about men as it is about women. What we cannot do is speak on behalf of women. Women can only speak on behalf of themselves. What we can do is support them. Men can say I’m supporting gender equality not only for women but also for myself, because when I make gender equality a part of every day, I will create better families and better communities.

Email Yulin Lou at [email protected].