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 ...
Sep 4, 2012

Ana's Story

As a very young child in the northern highlands of Guatemala, Ana Ceto grew up at the height of a civil war, in an area where that war was most fiercely fought. Human rights abuses, especially against Indigenous Peoples, were widespread. She saw fields rich with produce and effort burned to nothing. Food was scarce and violence everywhere.

At 18, Ana began her work to demand human rights. She struggled to document the identities of displaced people rebuilding their lives. She worked with organizations to identify victims. She collected testimonies from survivors of massacres.

At 23, Ana, along with other community members, founded Muixil, a grassroots organization of Indigenous Mayan women working together to promote the health, well-being and rights of their families and communities.

Today, the vibrant colors of traditional weaving dance before her eyes when she gathers the wares produced by the women’s weaving cooperative in her home of El Quiche. Chickens cackle and cluck in the yards of Indigenous women in the community, many of them widows and single mothers. With help from Muixil, these projects help women build independence and economic self-sufficiency. They sell their weavings at market, and chickens produce eggs to sell and for their families to eat. Many mothers use the money they raise to send their children to school.

Ana herself is a mother of three small children. She knows how important it is to be able to provide for her children, put food on the table and send them to school—a right Ana had to fight hard for.

MADRE and Muixil also work together to help Indigenous women participate in political processes.

Recently, Ana testified before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as they reviewed Guatemala’s human rights record. She described flagrant violations inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and women. She lent an impassioned voice to the findings of  the “Report on Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Guatemala” submitted to the Committee by MADRE, Muixil and other human rights groups.

“MADRE has given us strong support. You gave us the first funds for the weaving cooperative and made this trip to New York possible. We are very thankful,” she told the MADRE staff after her testimony at the UN.

Aug 27, 2012

Voices for Justice

In Peru, more than half of all people – and nearly 80% of Indigenous Peoples and those of African descent – live in poverty. Indigenous women face the additional challenge of gender discrimination. They are underrepresented in local government, exposed to gender-based violence and lack access to health care. Maternal mortality in the region is 185 deaths per 100,000 live births, as compared to an average of nine per 100,000 in industrialized countries. Indigenous women who seek health care often encounter professionals who do not speak their local language and cannot fully explain reproductive health information.

MADRE and our partner CHIRAPAQ (The Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru) are using radio to share information on health, domestic violence, women’s political participation, food security, climate change and more in these geographically isolated communities. Together, MADRE and CHIRAPAQ are training Indigenous women and men in radio production and broadcasting, providing equipment to a network of radio producers and developing programming to promote women’s human rights and collective Indigenous rights.

Aug 21, 2012

Shoes and Shared Names

MADRE staff member Diana Duarte shares a fond memory from her visit to KOFAVIV.

Last summer, I traveled with MADRE staff to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We brought with us donations of shoes for our sister organization KOFAVIV, who distribute them to young girls living in the tent cities. My trip was filled with inspiring moments, but one in particular stands out—and it was captured in a photo.

More than two years after the earthquake, people still struggle to survive in the displacement camps. But our partners at KOFAVIV have created a safe space to help rebuild their lives and communities: a Women’s Center. Women and girls know that when they need medical help, counseling, or legal services, the activists at the Women’s Center will accompany them. They know that if they just need to lean on someone, they can turn to KOFAVIV.

But first, they need to be able to get there. We learned that a lack of shoes was preventing girls, many of whom were orphaned by the quake, from walking the distance to the Women’s Center. So when we went to visit KOFAVIV, we brought shoes.

Our sisters at KOFAVIV gathered hundreds of people, young girls and their communities, into the Women’s Center for the shoe distribution. Andre Lambertson, an amazing photojournalist and filmmaker, was with us that day to document the event. And there were plenty of beautiful moments to capture. It could have been a chaotic scene, but it wasn’t. The women of KOFAVIV organized the distribution flawlessly. What’s more, they turned it into a celebration. There was music and dancing, and clusters of young girls laughing and making friends.

I was in a courtyard, using my rusty French to talk to a bunch of girls. None of them seemed older than 13. They told me about their lives and their families, and they asked about mine. One girl asked my age, and then joked, “You’re old.” We laughed, and I thought, ‘Reminds me of my younger sisters, who love to poke fun at me, the oldest.’ I was snapping photos, and the girls all wanted to pose with their best friends, grinning cheesily at the camera.

But one girl seemed shy and was standing off to one side. I asked her what her name was, and she said, “Diana.” And then we had this moment that Andre captured.

I stayed with those girls for a few more hours before we had to leave. They reminded me of myself at their age, of my younger sisters, and of my friends. Like so many survivors of the earthquake, they have been through so much. I’m glad and grateful every day that KOFAVIV is there for them.

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