Judge Sotomayor Inspires Hundreds of Women; Encourages to Fight for Change
“There’s nothing that can’t be changed if you work hard enough to change it”.
With these words, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor invited hundreds of women to be agents of the social change they want, and encouraged them to be humble, face their fears, and educate themselves to develop formed opinions about topics of interest.
However, the magistrate did not offer remarks regarding Puerto Rico’s situation, the imposition of a Fiscal Oversight Control Board created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which held its first meeting prior to her discourse, or the protest against their presence in the Caribe Hilton Hotel, in which five protesters were arrested.
“I won’t talk about political matters,” she stated, without providing other declarations to journalists in the aftermath.
Thinking in what is right and doing something about it “is easier than you believe,” expressed the third woman and first Latina to become a Supreme Court judge in response to questions by lawyer María del Carmen Figueroa, from the Civil Rights Commission (CRC), during the conference ‘A Conversation with Justice Sonia Sotomayor,’ as a preface to the Women’s Innovation Journey, organized by Animus.
Figueroa asked about the fight for civil and human rights, and how on many occasions laws don’t necessarily protect them thoroughly.
“[Sotomayor] responded remarkably. She said she will respect the system and trust it. However, those causes are important to people, they must work to turn them into laws, they must make them part of public policy so I can defend them,” said Figueroa at the end of her discourse.
The lawyer said she was inspired because the judge requested participants to assume their challenges. Figueroa was thankful for discussing the topic of humility before the group of almost 800 people, since there was a group outside of society’s vulnerable people with influence to propose changes.
Another person who had the opportunity to establish conversation with Sotomayor was Paula Ortiz, who revealed to Caribbean Business she faces a vulnerable time in her life because she has to halt her law studies due to a car accident that is temporarily keeping her in a wheelchair.
“Listening to her talk and the fact that somebody stands up, extends her arm to you, and tells you not to let fear guide you, ‘follow your heart’…that really moved me,” expressed Ortiz.
Ortiz’s question revolved around Sotomayor’s college experiences, to which the magistrate responded with the importance of taking advantage of time and educating oneself about all possible subjects, as well as approaching people from whom one can learn.
“You can’t have an opinion if you don’t educate yourself about why those are the questions in any situation. Use college to build yourselves, first of all, and more interesting, learn about the things you want to understand, and then decide what you want to do,” affirmed the lawyer of Puerto Rican ancestry.
For her part, Tere Dávila, creative director of Lobito, Ileana & Howie, said she was inspired by the way Sotomayor “interacted with people, gave them her hand, observed, paid attention to everyone.” Meanwhile, Gladys Santos, from MSO Puerto Rico, asserted she felt identified with the perspective of viewing every day and every challenge as a “rebirth,” a “new opportunity.”
Animus founder Lucienne Gigante explained to this newspaper that the organization works to provide women the tools for personal, professional, and business growth, which is why Sotomayor’s presence and life testimony are fundamental in the process.
“What moved me the most was that she descended from the stage to talk during the entire interview surrounded by everyone, extending her hand, hugging. […] Fear isn’t talked about sufficiently, and we all experience fear. And sometimes fear can be paralyzing. And seeing that she touched her experience with fear, with specific examples, that she could provide those skills about how she surpasses her fears is something that applies to all of us,” she said.
After concluding the discourse, delayed for half an hour due to the protest, the judge was escorted out of conference room, inside which recording and taking pictures had been prohibited.