NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Every four years we hear that politicians cannot afford to ignore the Latino vote, but it may be Latinas who are the key to elections for that community.
UnidosUS, the nation's largest Latino advocacy organization, said research before the 2018 election showed that the growing electoral influence of Latinos is in fact driven by Latinas.
Now, a group of powerful Latinas, led by actors America Ferrera and Eva Longoria, have gathered women from the worlds of organizing, politics and entertainment to create a new online platform called "She Se Puede." It's billed as a new digital lifestyle community that they hope will inspire, affirm, and inform Latinas to leverage their power in a way that transforms their lives, families and communities.
In addition to engaging lifestyle content, there will be information about elections and politics as well.
Their message is that you can't have a holistic lifestyle without civics and She Se Puede aims to center civics in a way that makes it easy to engage with and share.
Christy Haubegger is one of the co-founders of She Se Puede. She also founded Latina Magazine in 1994 and is the executive vice president of communication for Warner Media, in charge of their diversity initiatives.
WCBS 880's Lynda Lopez spoke with Haubegger and asked what she and the co-founders hope She Se Puede will accomplish.
"I think that all of us are veterans of different kinds of work to empower our community," Haubegger said. "The thing that we realize is that even though lots of folks have been trying to work on Latino voter participation, the numbers really haven't been moving and everyone keeps saying, 'Our population is so big, we're so fast-growing, we should be so politically powerful,' but the truth is we really are voting at lower rates than other women in particular and certainly other women of color in this country. And we all know what a political force women of color can be."
Haubegger said a few years ago, she traveled to Florida for the midterm elections with Ferrera, Longoria and other actors including Rosario Dawson and Zoe Saldana, to help turn out the Latina vote.
"When we got there one of the things we found was that so many said, 'Well, I don't know that I know enough to vote. I don't have all the information, I don't know that I'm smart, I've never done this before, I don't feel confident voting,'" said Haubegger.
With She Se Puede, they hope to give voters the information, confidence and tools they need ahead of the election.
Haubegger said the message they hope to convey is "you're smart enough, you're capable, in fact, you're incredible and you are powerful if we all stand together."
"We looked into what are the issues? Why aren't we voting and it comes down to culture," Haubegger said.
"I think a lot of us didn't grow up watching our parents vote and then we also have a lot of media telling us that we're not very powerful. We realized that if we are to actually realize our political potential and full power in this country, we need a place to tell one another that you are capable, you are enough and you are not alone. Get that confidence and that culture and that civic engagement is part of our right and what we're entitled to and we're going to exercise that."
Along with empowering women to vote, Haubegger said She Se Puede will also share stories of ordinary women overcoming the odds and their own self-doubt.
"Somebody like Becky G, the music artist, is sharing her 'She Se Puede' moment is 'I bought my mom a home,' other people have a 'She Se Puede' moment that's just 'I got my driver's license,' or 'I finished my degree,' or 'I was able to direct a movie while having a baby,'" Haubegger said.
"I think that when you realize how little of the media really champions our achievements, to be able to celebrate one another's achievements is really important and it's part of how you feel empowered and confident so that you can have an impact on our society through voting, through civic engagement, through leadership in your community."