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...
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."

Feb 20, 2015

You Brought Care and Healing to Syrian Refugees

Thank you so much for your support of MADRE’s Care in Crisis for Syrian Women and Girls project on GlobalGiving. Syrian refugees are experiencing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Women and girls are suffering widespread rape and forced marriages on top of mass displacement, starvation and more.

But thanks to you, MADRE and our on-the-ground partners are responding. We’re delivering aid and trauma counseling to women and girls. And we’re training women to document and prosecute rape as a weapon of war and demand a voice in peace talks.

With your support, MADRE is:

  • Delivering Humanitarian Aid. MADRE and our on-the-ground partners are meeting urgent needs by providing humanitarian aid—including life-saving food, medicine, clothing and security supplies, such as solar-powered flashlights to prevent nighttime rapes—for women and children in refugee camps, clinics and birthing centers in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.
  • Supporting a School for Refugee Women and Children. MADRE is supporting a school in Lebanon, near the Syrian border, where 100 refugee women and children receive an education, counseling, food and clean water.
  • Advocating for Human Rights. Through our trainings, MADRE increases the capacity of Syrian women’s organizations to document violence against women. This documentation is used to demand accountability at the UN and to bring women's voices to peace talks.

Thank you so much for supporting this vital, life-sustaining work. We couldn’t have done this work without you.

To learn more about the women you support through MADRE, be sure to visit our website.

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