Iris Lopez, the Latina news anchor and founder of Mija, Yes You Can, a nonprofit empowering women
When Iris Lopez entered the male-dominated world of TV news, she realized the unfair dynamic between men and women in the field.
Women were not given a voice, and they were often too afraid to stand up and speak for themselves.
It was then when she decided to create a platform for women to feel empowered.
Lopez’s mission started with a t-shirt with a simple, but powerful message.
She posted a picture of her wearing the shirt with the words: “Mija, yes you can.”
“For me, growing up in El Paso, Texas, you are going to hear mija, or mijo. It’s a term of endearment,” Lopez said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.
She quickly realized that if she could sell the shirts with the phrase, not only would she be able to use that money to help other women, but the message of empowerment would also spread.
On March 8, 2020, Lopez created her nonprofit organization, and named it after the slogan she uses on her shirts: Mija, Yes You Can.
In the process, she realized “Mija, Yes You Can” would perfectly compliment the Latino culture as well as American culture.
Lopez also kept the phrase in English to provide familiarity with non-Spanish speakers.
“We just celebrated our one year anniversary, on National Women’s Day,” she said.
On top of celebrating its one year anniversary, the organization recently announced they will be awarding grants and scholarships for young girls and women.
“We have one for graduating mijas, collegiate mijas, or rising mijas, that one sponsors a young girl from seven to 12 grade so they can go to an academic arrangement program, whether they want to go into STEM or need help for their SATS,” said Lopez.
The various scholarships focus on women having a hard time balancing family and education. For her, it was a personal reminder of her own accomplishments, and that other women aren’t so lucky.
“For me, I was a single mother and I was lucky enough to not really have to put school on hold,” she said. “But there are women out there who had to pull out of school to raise a family or because they didn’t have any money.”
Another grant she’s created is the business mija scholarship that helps aspiring business owners with $500 to jumpstart their own ventures.
This past Mother’s Day, Mija, Yes You Can, also planned an event for mothers and their daughters.
“Our committee made little fun games for girls and their mothers to see how well they knew each other,” said Lopez. “They also taught them how to make little desserts and then we had little raffles at the end.”
The organization also offers virtual events, like their recent “Mijas margarita” event that taught women how to make rolled tacos.
While making tacos, the ‘mijas’ also talked to each other about life and motherhood.
Lopez, who is a devoted mental health advocate, hopes that by using the phrase and believing in themselves, bigger things can happen for the participating women.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression, so for me I am very big on mental health and daily mantras, it helps me,” she said.
Beyond Latinas, Lopez also hopes to motivate women from different backgrounds to join her organization.
“It’s not just for Latinas its for Black, white, and Asian women,” she said. “Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sex, we want everyone to come together. When women are able to come together, we can become even more powerful.”