Women’s History Month encourages and celebrates the important roles women have had throughout American history. In the Rio Grande Valley, female artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, community leaders, educators and many others have been inspiring and helping to create a stronger, more unified region.
Sirheem Fuentes is one of those women who continues to pave the way for others like her. She realized a couple of years ago that she needed a place where, as a woman, she felt safe to share her creative ideas. She searched for a space that offered support to grow, learn and also share her experience as a female musician in the Rio Grande Valley. That place didn’t quite exist, so she created it.
“I was alone in my experiences and one day, I figured I couldn’t be the only one,” Fuentes said.
Starting the Mujer RGV movement
The plan then began to invite as many female musicians and entrepreneurs together. She looked to gather them all together in one space to see what would happen.
That was the beginning of Mujer RGV. The organization began with monthly female-focused events throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The events feature female-only vendors, musicians and artists.
On March 8, this female empowering group celebrates its second year. Since its inception, the group has held more than 18 events and has grown to up to 40 Mujeres (members).
“To me, Mujer RGV is the space where my self-doubt vanishes,” said Mujer RGV member Vanessa Alvarado-Flores. “It is that space where I feel encouraged to dream out loud and create in a community with other women who want to support the dream and see it come true.”
In the beginning, Fuentes’s hope was that Mujer RGV would be the organization to help cultivate female creatives across the region. It would also showcase the impact females in the community were already making. Since then, Fuentes’ expectations have been surpassed multiple times over.
“What started as a handful of musicians has grown in numbers and ideas. It has completely evolved as we have worked to create what we feel this area needs.”
Growing, partnering, inspiring
The group’s local recognitions include those from The Monitor and online publications. The biggest accomplishments have been Mujer RGV’s partnerships and collaborations with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the City of Edinburg and LNF Distributors. In November 2019, the organization was also invited to speak at a conference in Jamestown, Va., alongside UTRGV.
“Our main mission is, and always will be, to prove to women of the Rio Grande Valley that they are capable of everything they set their minds to,” Fuentes stressed. “Women supporting each other is invaluable. With one another’s help, we really can achieve it all.”
The group has also inspired many other women/minority organizations to follow the Mujer RGV model. Those organizations are creating even more opportunities that never existed before.
Alvarado-Flores added that Mujer RGV provides a sense of community that has led to creative work that uplifts the talents of women in addition to showcasing what the RGV has to offer. Collaboration over competition is key to Mujer RGV. Fuentes wants to spread more positive feminism by working in unison with other women.
“The amount of support we have felt, proved that this movement is necessary,” she said. “We need a positive, collaborative attitude when it comes to solving both individual and social problems that we, as women and as people, face daily.”