Sol Arrúa: the rippling impact of empowering young women in Paraguay
Polite, buoyant, and idealist: In many ways, Sol Arrúa comes across as a regular 21-year-old. However, as soon as we bring up the subjects of politics and leadership, which she is most passionate about, it becomes clear that there is much more about Sol than meets the eye.
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“If we treat all inequalities equally, the problem is just going to get worse,” she says. “What we need to look for is equity. That is why measures such as democratic parity are so important”, she adds, demonstrating a clear understanding of conceptual frameworks for grounded political action.
Sol is an alumna of the Academy for Political Training of Women Leaders, an initiative of the Equity and Gender Commission of the Paraguayan Senate, which is one of the main boundary partners of International IDEA Paraguay Programme, in the framework of the project “Consolidation of Paraguayan Democracy II” (2019-2023), with funding from the European Union.
As a graduate from the Academy, and as a young female leader, Sol is an intersectional example of the project’s impact, aimed at improving the political participation and representation of women and youth as broadly defined demographics. She is a law student from Villarrica, in the Guairá department, and claims that this origin has made her more sensitive to the struggles of underprivileged people: “when you come from the countryside, you are much closer to the deep realities of Paraguay,” she notes.
Sol is a young leader who has been in the making for some time. She has participated in several training programs, both locally and abroad, but says that her experience at the Academy for Political Training was pivotal to help her realize the scope of her potential: “I embraced my own leadership before participating in the Academy, but it was only there that my leadership found a purpose,” she says. “I could see all the obstacles women face when aspiring to public office, and I said to myself ‘this is not normal, this is not right’. Without the opportunity provided by the Academy, I would not have known these limitations and these realities,” she adds.
By participating in the Academy for Political Training, Sol became convinced of the urgent need for women’s perspective and contribution to all aspects of society. “I am incredibly grateful to have been one of over a hundred women who took part in the Academy,” she declares. “Having had the opportunity, and as a community leader, I have to commit myself to encourage other emerging leaderships. I tell younger girls: ‘you have such great potential,’ and they often do not see it that way.”
Sol displays rock-solid beliefs despite her young age. She believes in the actual and potential impact of initiatives like the Academy, which bring together women from diverse backgrounds and provide them with a forum to connect, with shared knowledge to understand their realities, and with tools to promote change. She believes in herself and her potential to have an impactful career in politics. And most importantly, she believes in the process of waking up the often-dormant power of women:
“There are many more women leaders who just need to find the same confidence and opportunity that the Academy gave me to dramatically increase their impact. They need someone to believe in their leadership and give them the tools and the empowerment that comes with them. That is why it is fundamental that we keep carrying these initiatives forward: young women leaders are ready.”