Speaking to PEOPLE Thursday in Beverly Hills, California, at the Eva Longoria Foundation Annual Dinner (where she was celebrating its seventh year running), the actress explained that she believes “people overthink the word ‘feminism’ ” when in reality it’s just about fair opportunities for all.
“It means equality. That’s it. So it’s not a lot of degrees of equality. It is what it is,” said Longoria, 43. “So for me to be able to teach him women are equal to men is going to be a big lesson. But it’s not only about teaching him, it’s about showing him.”
“And a lot of times, our young kids, they emulate,” she continued. “They’re not going to hear what I’m saying. He wants to emulate what I’m doing, so I think it’s important for us to walk the walk.”
Longoria’s foundation, according to its mission statement, strives to “help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.”
And much of the passion behind the foundation’s aims are the same values she hopes to pass on to her son. “There are a lot of values I want to teach him, but for me, this work now has become so much more important,” said the Desperate Housewives alum.
“The stakes are so much higher now because the world in which I’m going to leave him has to be okay, from the environment to our government to representation to civil rights.”
Santiago — whom the actress welcomed in June with husband José “Pepe” Bastón — has a role model in his mother.
“I actually now get anxiety about the work I do as opposed to before. I was like, ‘This is great, what I’m doing — I’m helping people,’ ” Longoria said. “But now [as a mom] I’m like (breathes in deeply), ‘What happens if something happens to me tomorrow and the world is the way it is and it’s just not quite right yet?’ “