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...
Mar 13, 2015

Women's Peace Farm Shelters Iraqi Families

Yanar Mohammed(center) leader of OWFI at the farm.
Yanar Mohammed(center) leader of OWFI at the farm.

Displaced by extremist violence, women-headed households are now flooding central and southern Iraq. They need humanitarian aid, shelter and resources to rebuild their lives. With MADRE, our local partner, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), is meeting these urgent and long-term needs.

The Women's Peace Farm is a way for displaced women farmers to achieve self-sufficiency and provide for their families. What's more, they support one another through the crisis of war.

This project also alleviates the need for factory-farmed food aid. This enables women farmers to remain independent and strengthens their sense of personal agency and resiliency.

Near the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, OWFI secured a tract of land to start the Women's Peace Farm. Together, we purchased 5 caravans and equipped them with basic appliances. These provide shelter to 54 people (mainly women and children). OWFI also provides food for women and their families on a daily basis and covers their minimal living expenses such as transportation to the clinic and doctor fees.

Now, thanks to supporters like you, the farm is thriving. Already, the women have raised eggplants, peppers, okra and cucumbers. And just last week, we heard from our partners that a new crop of tomatoes was coming in!

The Women's Peace Farm is an innovative answer to the crisis of war, displacement, and violence impacting Iraqi women. Thank you. Your support strengthens the work of our brave partners in Iraq.

Feb 20, 2015

Radio + Women's Rights = Autonomy

Natalia leading a workshop on the power of radio.
Natalia leading a workshop on the power of radio.

MADRE Program Director, Natalia Caruso, recently traveled to Nicaragua for the 6th Annual Indigenous Women's Forum. There, she led a workshop on the use of radio at the community level as a tool to end violence against women. Here is the blog post she wrote, reflecting on the workshop.

A central theme of the Indigenous Women’s Forum was “I + We = Autonomy.” This simple equation laid a strong foundation for the Conference. It reminded attendees of two essential forms of autonomy for all Indigenous Nicaraguan women. The first is that every woman deserves to have ownership and autonomy over her body and her rights. The second is the opportunities that Indigenous Peoples can seize if they respect and use the strength of all their people, women included.

This concept came to light during a two-hour workshop I facilitated on “Communications and Ending Violence: The Use of Radio at the Community Level.” As part of our work together, MADRE and our sister organization Wangki Tangni are using solar-powered radios as a way to prevent violence against women.

Wangki Tangni produces radio segments in Spanish and Miskito, the local Indigenous language, to reach even the most remote communities. These segments are broadcast on local stations. MADRE is providing solar-powered radios to allow women to listen to the segments.

My workshop allowed us to hear firsthand the experiences of the women who benefit from the program.

We talked with a group of 35 women about how radio can promote women’s rights. As in other rural communities worldwide where MADRE works, radio is the primary means of mass communication.

Many women told us that they listen to radio programs on women’s rights to empower themselves to stand up and say “no” to violence. The workshop proved once again that the radio can do more than broadcast community events, entertainment or soccer game stats. It is also an educational and empowering tool for communication about women’s rights and the right to live free of violence.

As one woman said: “I learned about my rights by listening to the radio.”

The radio is also a way of educating and engaging with men and boys about violence. A middle-aged Miskita woman from Ulwas at the workshop told us a powerful story. She told us that her husband is abusive and has physically attacked her. One evening, she found herself listening to the radio with her husband, and a program about women’s rights came on. After it ended, he turned to her and said, “I am afraid of you.”

What did he mean by that? She understood that he was beginning to recognize the capacity that she had for leadership. He was beginning to understand that what he had done was a violation of her human rights.

Wangki Tangni knows that we must include men and boys in conversations about women’s rights, and the radio is one powerful way to reach out to them.

During the session, I was seated next to a young woman from the Alto Bocay community who had traveled for two days, by boat, with a one-month-old newborn, to get to the Forum. She told me: “I came with my baby. I couldn’t miss it.”

It is exchanges like this that reflect the dedication and power that these women have to transform their communities. They will remake them into places where they have full autonomy over their bodies and their rights, and into places that are free of violence.

Impassioned workshop participant sharing her story
Impassioned workshop participant sharing her story
Feb 20, 2015

Former Child Soldiers Healing Through Art

February 12 was the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, also known as Red Hand Day.

Children living through war are often survivors of physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violence. Some manage to escape. Many find it hard to overcome their trauma. Rehabilitation is especially difficult for girl child soldiers, since re-integration programs are often ill-equipped to address their needs.

Taller de Vida, our partner in Colombia, is working to change that. With their “Saquen mi cuerpo de la guerra" (“Take my body out of the war”) campaign, Taller de Vida uses art therapy to empower former child soldiers and survivors of sexual violence.

We asked our partners to share their messages for the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers. We'd like to share those messages with you now:

A message from Stella Duque Cuesta, clinical psychologist and director of Taller de Vida:

"In Colombia, the war is not letting up, especially for the millions of boys, girls and adolescent victims of armed conflict who suffer its consequences daily: death, displacement, mutilation, sexual violence, and recruitment, among others, and who require progress in the peace process and care."

A message from Luna, a Taller de Vida participant:

"This February 12, do not forget:

That the war in Colombia is a scourge that has disintegrated our families and has led us to be involved, used and to live a life of violence and sexual exploitation at an early age, also, it leaves us – boys, girls and youth – orphans. We want this to change and on this Red Hand Day we raise our voice and ask those who have the power to change our reality to act!!! Because we have the right to be children, to dream and to build a future where no one decides for us and where we can live and grow overcoming the challenges of childhood and contributing to peacebuilding."

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