MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.

MADRE's mission is to advance women's human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. MADRE works towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably; in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and in which people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. MADRE's vision is enacted with an understanding of the inter-relationships between the various issues we address and by a commitment to working in partnership with women at the local, regional and international levels who share our go...
Jul 3, 2014

Update: Quarterly Gathering of Midwives for Peace

In May, the Midwives for Peace had the chance to meet face-to-face. These regular meetings allow the midwives to share updates on their work and talk about their successes. It also gives them the opportunity to talk about their challenges and their plans for the future.

In this meeting, the midwives watched a film on delivery room dilemmas, followed by a discussion on the issue. They reported that the film was useful and informative for their work. The discussion between the midwives the followed the film viewing was fruitful and enjoyable.

The next meeting will take place in September. We look forward to sharing an update from this meeting with you then. Thanks for your support!

Jun 17, 2014

Expanding Production and Battling Climate Change

Fatima presents Yifat with sesame oil and seeds
Fatima presents Yifat with sesame oil and seeds

Seven years ago, a woman named Toma walked into a local bank in Sudan. As a farmer, she had big dreams about the harvests she could raise and the money she could make selling her crops -- if she could just get a loan for seeds and tools.

She hoped that the bank official she spoke to would hear her out. She knew that women farmers were often counted out, and the banks gave the big loans to the men. But that day, someone took a chance on her. They knew that she was one of the original 200 members of the Women Farmers Union that MADRE co-founded and supports in Sudan. They deemed her creditworthy, and she walked out with a loan of $100.

That was just the beginning. After years of successful harvests and timely payments, Toma now can count on loans from the bank as big as the ones they offer to men. She is a leader among women farmers in her community. Soon, she will be able to buy her own land and expand her production.

Fatima Ahmed, president of Zenab for Women in Development, our sister organization in Sudan, told us this story on her last visit to see us. She shared that in the past year, the Women Farmers Union has grown tremendously. At the end of 2013, there were 5,241 women in the union farming nearly 50,000 acres across 60 villages.

Fatima gave examples of another woman in the union named Zenab who is using her success to give back. With the increased farming income that she has gained with the support of the union, she has graduated from an adult education program. Now, she teaches other women how to read.

But it’s not all good news. Many areas in Eastern Sudan are feeling the impact of climate change. There was less rain in 2013 as compared to 2012, and the precipitation that did come was delayed. Instead of planting crops in June or July, the planting schedule has shifted to the beginning of August.

“Climate change is a reality,” Fatima told us. “We want the women to be equipped to deal with drought and other threats.”

The women are being trained in adaptive agricultural techniques such as water harvesting. This involves plowing deeper rows to collect water and emphasizes the importance of planting trees around their farms to prevent erosion and rapid water evaporation.

The women in the union sent a message with Fatima, letting us know that they appreciate MADRE’s support for the program and how much it is improving their lives. And they sent gifts for us! Fatima brought us sesame seeds and oil, pressed using the miller bought with the support of MADRE members.

Fatima and Yifat
Fatima and Yifat
Jun 9, 2014

Report: Stop Hunting Children

Stella Duque Cuesta shares findings from report
Stella Duque Cuesta shares findings from report

As war rages on in Colombia, children continue to be at high risk of recruitment. Young people from abusive or impoverished households are lured into joining armed groups in hopes of a better life.

Child soldiers are often victims of physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violence. Many grow up knowing nothing but a life of combat. Some manage to escape. For most, the trauma inhibits their ability to develop as healthy members of society.

Stella Duque Cuesta is a clinical psychologist and director of MADRE’s partner Taller de Vida. She recently visited New York for an event to present findings from a report called “Stop Hunting Children!” The report documents acts of sexual violence committed against children in the armed conflict. The event was organized by WATCHLIST and COALICO.

Researchers for the report used 15 government databases of registered survivors aged 12 to 18. One key finding indicates that, from 2008 to 2012, approximately 48,915 cases of sexual violence occurred in the context of the conflict. Out the total cases registered, 41,313 of the survivors are Afro-Colombian and Indigenous girls.

This data is incomplete data and sexual violence is often widely under-reported. There are likely thousands of children who were victimized but scared into silence.

Several civil society organizations in Colombia coordinated the report. This included Taller de Vida’s “Saquen mi cuerpo de la guerra (“Take my body out of the war”) campaign. This initiative uses art therapy to help children harmed by the conflict to overcome their trauma. Overcoming the stigma of sexual violence, the youth also organize community exhibits of their work.

Stella explained, “The girls and young women involved in the armed conflict want to participate in the transitional justice process, because they do not want other girls to suffer the same [trauma that they experienced].”

The campaign’s goal is to bring local and international attention to the issue of sexual violence against children.

They also want the Colombian government to be held accountable and forced to take action.

“We must demand zero tolerance of sexual violence by armed actors, and we must build the political will of civil society to end this practice,” said Stella.

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