Get to Know Our Fellows: Karina Aquino

Posted by on Feb 14, 2024

Karina Aquino is a seasoned researcher, project manager, and gender equality advocate with extensive experience in international cooperation and diplomacy. Passionate about empowering women and girls, she integrates her faith into her work, aiming to break the chains of patriarchy and create a more inclusive world.

Why do you do what you do?

Growing up and living in Honduras, where the gender gap is 73.5% (World Economic Forum) and poverty affects 6 out of 10 people, especially women and girls, accessing basic services, resources, economic opportunities, and decent employment can be a challenge as a woman. Add to that, the day-to-day vulnerability to Gender Based Violence (GBV) and barriers to participation in decision-making positions.

Despite the context of my country, I’ve had “the privilege” to have access to education and a safe environment thanks to my family, school, and church. 

This is why I feel the responsibility to advocate in all the spaces that I am participating in to strategically advance the gender equality agenda, designing programs that impact the sectors where women and girls can improve their lives and the lives of future generations.

Why did you apply for the Girl Child Long Walk Fellowship?

This fellowship is important to me for my personal and professional growth. I believe that God is radically inclusive of women as agents of God’s kingdom transformation. Women have been chosen by God to participate as agents for God’s kingdom according to the Biblical narrative. The overall trajectory of Scripture is towards a fuller and equal partnership between men and women. 

I am a Christian woman from one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, yet I am sensitive to looking at the world through a gender equality lens. I saw the opportunity to apply to the GCLW fellowship, first to learn how the other fellows faced unequal challenges in their contexts and second, to learn about the origin of the patriarchal chains to raise my voice and awareness in all the spaces that I participate in. I am grateful to build a network with people from diverse contexts around the world who are changemakers and work in partnership to raise our voices. 

What would success look like for you after completing the Girl Child Long Walk Fellowship?

I aspire to create a network of women taking the next step in our journey to untangle the contradictions at the intersection of faith and gender.

Why women and girls?

God created all of humanity with the same value and dignity, both male and female. In the beginning of creation, God said: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”- Genesis 1:26. Being made, male and female in God’s image reflects our agency in God’s commission to be stewards of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:22-24). But, God’s original design for creation has been disordered as a result of sin. This has manifested in broken gender relationships that result in abuse, violence, inequality, exclusion, and discrimination.

How do you envision the Girl Child Long Walk Fellowship will impact the work you do?

I raise awareness regarding gender equality and facilitate tools to integrate women and girls and vulnerable groups in programmatic areas and sectors in an NGO. My mission is to give guidelines to achieve a transformation of the social norms and gender roles, and to include women and girls in change behavior methodologies. To offer effective guidance, I must have a deep understanding of the inequality context and the “how” to integrate women and girls as beneficiaries of social and economic empowerment and transformation. This cohort and the rich discussion give me the tools that I need to integrate it in all the areas of my job and the other spaces that I participate in. 

How has your faith impacted your work to date?

I work for a Christian organization, World Vision. Our pursuit of gender equality is a declaration to our staff and the most vulnerable children and families we serve. As an organization, we confront oppressive systems to promote the full participation of women and men, girls and boys towards human flourishing irrespective of religion, age, sex, disability, race/origin, economic or other status.

What gives you joy?

It gives me joy to believe that I am a girl child of our almighty God!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would change the misinterpretation of Christianity, especially when it diminishes women and girls, putting them at a lower level than men and boys.