What Matters To Me: Victoria Wisniewski Otero
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Like that other great campaigner for radical social change, Victoria Wisniewski Otero has a dream. Hers is of a more inclusive Hong Kong, where the cycle of disempowerment is broken by handing the microphone to people who are rarely heard. She is making this vision a reality with Resolve HK, a platform that provides fellowships to leaders from underrepresented communities to help them become change-makers.
Here, Victoria describes her work in her own words.
We all have an ethical responsibility to be more participatory. I grew up in a modest Hispanic family in the US, and when I look back I can see how my bilingual, bicultural background shaped my perspective. Now I live in a global city and I’m aware of the privilege that gives me too. It’s so important to remember that we all have some privilege that others don’t and to think quite seriously about how we can leverage that to help them.
Diversity and inclusivity are not the same thing. While Hong Kong is undeniably a vibrant and diverse city, inclusion is another matter. Statistically speaking, Hong Kong is the most unequal place in the developed world, so it is an objective fact that lots of groups that are being marginalised. Certain communities are doubly affected by this: ethnic minority women, or those who are transgender and living in poverty.
I’m not aiming to be a voice for the voiceless. People have a voice of their own—you just need to pass them the mic. Or as [the author] Arundhati Roy said, “There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” Through our fellowship, we give hands-on training on how to put your personal story out there, forums you can target, how to prepare a speech to give to law makers, and—eventually—how to engage the UN.
I’m not aiming to be a voice for the voiceless. People have a voice of their own—you just need to pass them the mic
— Victoria Wisniewski Otero
I am not interested in providing sad stories about people who are victims. I want to bring these people to the table. Jhic is one example. She came to Hong Kong from the Philippines as a migrant domestic worker 15 years ago and is also a proud member of the LGBT community. She is passionate about making Hong Kong a more accepting city. After working with us, she persuaded her employer to give her the day off, so she could make a speech in the Legislative Council, which was later viewed 50,000 times online. Not only was she engaging with decision makers, she also became a role model for other domestic workers.
We want to build solidarity across movements. While most NGOs target a specific sub group, ours is about bringing them together. Last year, we focused on racial equality; this year it is gender-based violence. We want people from very diverse backgrounds to collaborate on an issue they want to change.