Ana María Mendoza de Acha

First of all, I must say that I felt very honored when I was asked to write these words. But more than that, I was excited about the idea of hearing the testimonies of 100 Schoenstatt women from all over the world.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

Influenced by my Catholic parents and from a Salesian upbringing, I built my identity as a child of the Blessed Mother – not at all based on a youthful enthusiasm, but as a mature decision to follow Mary in her education and example.

Where have you experienced God in your life?

My personal experience of God did not take place on a particular day, on a special occasion, but rather I experienced Him quite naturally since my childhood. Although He seemed powerful and perhaps punishing at first, over the years I experienced His mercy in a loving relationship with Him.
But this relationship became much more intense when I participated in the National Congress in 2003 with my party “Patria Querida” (“Beloved Fatherland”) as National Senator.
More than ever, I placed my duties in the Parliament daily in the hands of God and the Blessed Mother. Fearlessly I worked for everyone and never asked to which party a citizen who asked for support belonged.

What do you see as THE challenge for women today?

We had to deal with many very stressful situations. Up until then I never felt discriminated against as a woman, since I came from a girls’ school and my previous profession was mainly practiced by women.  But in politics I experienced greater challenges. To prove one’s skills, a woman has to put much more effort into it than a man does. With the same effort, usually the man finally gets the job. I have experienced this repeatedly in different areas of life.
I find that really humiliating, as if a woman’s body is a threat to herself.
In very many cases, in order to get a job or a promotion, the woman has to give in to sexualized pressure, which, depending on her state of vulnerability, makes her an easy prey for those who want to exploit her.

On the other hand, in hundreds of cases I felt obliged to defend them when I heard how women were degraded in discussion groups or even in senate sessions. No arguments were brought against the ideas of women with which they disagreed, but expressions were used such as “that fat woman…” or “Listen to what the little one says…” Nevertheless, it is very difficult to listen to discussions in which, after an argument against a man’s opinion, expressions are used, like “That bald head…!” or ” Listen to the fat one…” It is an explicit lack of respect for the woman, who has to take a very strong position in such situations.

What do you want to change in this world through your life?

When my term of office ended in 2013, I returned to my profession. One year later, together with Father Pedro K. and a group of young people, I participated in the development of the “Foundation for the Promotion of Values and Prevention of Violence” (“FUNDAPROVA”), and in the project “Mother’s House of Tuparenda.” This house takes in boys between 16 and 18 years of age, in order to give them a comprehensive education and to reintegrate them into society and open the way to the job market.
We see these young people as victims of our society, which offers them no opportunities.
As much as they want education or work, they are excluded from the community, which results in a life of crime, especially when their family environment already tends in this direction. I eagerly seek justice in this world. But even more than justice, I find it difficult to do without a dignified life for all.
It is very important to take an interest in others, to find out in what way one can give support to improve their quality of life, especially so that they can be happier.
I enjoy this task very much. I want to help those who ask me for help daily and behind the scenes. I think if we all cared about our neighbor, this world would look very different. It is not impossible. It simply involves a decision.