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My father is my hero.

Although my father passed away almost twenty-nine years ago, he is my inspiration, my source of strength –  and the reason why it took me a long time to figure out that men and women do not stand on the same ground when it comes to career advancement.

My father, Victor, was a rice farmer in a small city in Colombia. As you might expect, the culture and society were highly male dominated, especially in my father’s world of farming. Nevertheless, my father always took me with him to walk the rice fields, to visit new farms, to accompany him to business meetings, to horse shows, and cattle fairs. He never let me feel like I was out of place because I was a girl.  And, he always treated me with great respect.

In fact, my father never defined the things I could accomplish based on my gender. I remember vividly a time when we were riding horses to get to a remote area, we got to a very steep mountain where we had to descend; I was very afraid and started to cry. I was probably 12 years-old and my father, without dismissing my feelings of fear, told me calmly, you can do it; you are a strong and brave woman and I know you can do it. I am very glad that my dad did not let me get off the horse and continue by foot for that scary part. He showed me that I am indeed, strong and brave.

As I entered the professional world, I was very fortunate to have some amazing bosses. I am especially thankful for one of my male mentors, who helped pave my way indirectly and without me noticing. This mentor was constantly building my brand by speaking highly of my talents to his bosses, giving me projects that would bring me great opportunities, and recommending me to many significant roles. This mentor had a transformative effect in my life, because in great part, thanks to him, I was able to reach my greatest dream. To become a mom.

You see, we need fathers to inspire and encourage their daughters; we need male bosses who are open to see and highlight our talents; we need male leaders to recognize the value that women bring to the table. We need women helping other women. We need to ALL work together towards a more equal ground of opportunities.

Today, I have a greater responsibility to work towards equality: My daughter, Victoria. I am a single mother by choice (thanks to a special bank and a wonderful fertility clinic!), and that means to me an obligation to do what I can to contribute to a future of greater fairness and leadership roles for women. That is why I choose to be a part of Women in Travel Thrive.   I hope to give Victoria the encouragement and inspiration she needs as a little girl to become a strong woman, and I hope she encounters mentors who will help her find her path to success.

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