• Published by Elizabeth Droggitis in: Colombia Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Violence Against Women Website

    Some have been forced from their homes in waves of mass displacement. Others have lost family members to decades of violence. And others still have suffered sexual violence in the context of armed conflict. Though their stories may differ, they are all here for a shared purpose: a tireless pursuit for peace and justice.

    Our sisters from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks to start the transitional justice conference.

    Our sisters from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks to start the transitional justice conference.

    Over 30 women from Colombia and Guatemala have been brought together for a MADRE-organized, two day transitional justice conference in Bogotá. The courageous women have gathered to share their stories of survival in the context of the human rights abuses suffered during the armed conflicts in both countries. It will be a chance for these women to reflect on their experiences in a safe space, discuss the challenges they’ve faced in their pursuits for justice, learn from each other as they move forward, and benefit from a community of support.

    This morning, we listened to the women share strategies for preserving their historical memories, an important process for building peace. As a participant from Guatemala shared with the group, “Our memory is something that cannot be erased.” Preserving their memories, the memories of their ancestors and communities is a powerful tool for seeking justice. It promises that their struggles will not be forgotten. And it drives us all forward in our shared commitment to peace and justice.

    These women have been inspiring to listen to and to learn from. I’m motivated by their dedication to justice and to human rights for all. And I can’t wait to share more updates with you as the conference continues!

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  • Published by Sara McCloskey in: Iraq Sexual Rights Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    Since the beginning of the crisis in Iraq, our partner Yanar Mohammed, President of Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), has provided us with on-the-ground accounts of the hardships and danger Iraqi women and families are facing. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to pose your questions to her.

    AGAINSTwomenVERTICAL_Final (4)

    Here’s how YOU can #AskYanar:

    Up until Friday August 8th, tweet your question to @MADREspeaks using the hashtag #AskYanar or go onto MADRE’s Facebook Fan Page and comment on one of the posts about the Q&A session.

    Be sure to check our myMADRE blog on Monday, August 25th to see if your question was answered by Yanar!

    Please note that not all submissions will be accepted.

    Yanar’s recent interviews and quotes:

    “Suicide, Rape, Murder: Life For Women In Iraq Under ISIS”, HuffPost Live

    “Three days after the invasion began, the militants were knocking on doors asking for unmarried women. We were told that 13 were taken from their homes and raped. More were taken later. The militants said it was their duty to serve the needs of the jihadists.”

    - “In Iraq, humanitarian crisis called ‘epic’”, Toronto Star

    “How Can We Protect Women From A Sexual Jihad?”, HuffPost Live

    “The Iraqi society is suffering unprecedented crisis that threatens the future of peaceful co-existence of citizens, and augments genocides and civil conflicts based on the sectarian identities that were established on the Iraqi population, and were strengthened throughout more than a decade of the American occupation to Iraq.”

    - “On the Occupation of Mosul and the Cities of Western Iraq”, One Billion Rising

    “Iraq’s New Humanitarian Crisis”, HuffPost Live

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  • Published by Chloe Silversmith in: Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Middle East Palestine Sexual Rights Website Women's Health

    Every July 11, we mark World Population Day to raise awareness of our growing numbers and the effects on global development. Today, the world population is over 7 billion and continuing to grow. Yet, many women around the world still do not have the right to plan the size and spacing of their families.

    Every woman deserves the right to ensure that all pregnancies are wanted and all childbirths are safe. When a woman has control over her reproductive health, her decision-making power in other aspects of her life grows. She’s empowered to voice her opinion in her family and community, placing her in a stronger position to demand other rights and bring about change.

    In order to make reproductive rights a reality, all women around the world — married and unmarried, young and old, no matter their circumstance or identity — deserve to have contraceptive information and health services available to them throughout their lives.

    At MADRE, we work with our partner organizations to promote and provide resources for family planning so that women can decide for themselves on matters regarding sexual and reproductive health without facing discrimination or coercion. For example:

    • In Israel and Palestine, we work with our partner organization, Midwives for Peace, a grassroots network of Palestinian and Israeli midwives. These midwives work together to provide prenatal care and childbirth support to guarantee safe childbirths to women in the West Bank, impeded by the Israeli occupation from reaching hospitals. The Safe Birth Project ensures that the reproductive rights and safety of Palestinian women in the West Bank are attended to, despite the conflict that surrounds them.
    • In Barcenas, Guatemala, we work with our partners at the Women Workers Committee to organize health fairs for women to receive information on family planning, undergo reproductive health check-ups, and obtain other vital care. These well-informed women become empowered to demand their rights and take control of their family planning.

    The freedom to plan your family is a human right that must be protected for all women everywhere. When women can make their own decisions about their health and well-being, they are positioned to lead in their communities. On this World Population Day, let’s re-commit to work towards a future where every woman has that opportunity.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Africa Emergency & Disaster Relief Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Iraq Middle East Peace Building Sexual Rights Syria Violence Against Women Website

    What we’ve written, read, listened to, remembered, watched and been inspired by this week

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Emergency & Disaster Relief Haiti Human Rights Advocacy Indigenous Peoples Iraq Middle East Peace Building Syria Violence Against Women Website

    The call to protect women and children amplifies as the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict comes to a close, militants threaten to gain control in Iraq and families in Nigeria continue to demand the safe return of their daughters.

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  • Published by Yifat Susskind in: Middle East Syria Violence Against Women Website Yifat's Take

    Earlier this month, MADRE joined our sisters and survivors worldwide for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the largest convening ever on this issue. 

    The success of this summit relies on activists holding governments accountable to their pledges. Last year, 122 countries signed a declaration to end sexual violence in conflict, and this conference grew out of that stated commitment.

    However, unless governments seize the opportunity to learn and change, we will not see the policy changes we need to protect women. And unless we confront sexual violence in conflict – by gathering evidence, providing services to survivors, and prosecuting offenders – the echoes of war will live on long after any peace agreement is signed.

    Even with war raging, we can still challenge rape. Syria is a key example. Women’s rights activists there are working to prevent and document sexual violence, provide peer counseling and outreach, train and sensitize doctors to recognize rape and respond effectively, and more. They are passing out information cards and leaflets to checkpoint military guards warning them that sexual abuse, from forced prostitution to rape, is a crime under international law. This strategy works because assailants are not afraid of domestic prosecution. But they know what has happened to military who commit these crimes in other countries after conflict ends.

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  • Published by Kay Harel in: Indigenous Peoples Mexico Violence Against Women Website

    A teenager is bullied by her classmates. They hood her head and beat her body. Then they post a picture of their attack on Facebook. Why? Because she is an Indigenous girl, brave enough and curious enough to seek an education at her neighborhood school.

    How many civic ordinances, national laws, international edicts, basic human rights, and moral principles are violated when her teachers and local authorities ignore these cruel crimes, the pleas of her parents and aunt, and the injustice before them?

    So MADRE brought this girl to the thirteenth annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to tell her story.

    On Thursday, May 15, which on the Mayan calendar is a day devoted to justice, we sat in solidarity with 17-year-old Angelina (not her real name), a Mixteca girl from Mexico, as she chronicled her two years of violations at the hands of her peers and public authorities. Together, we heard her rights and all relevant laws explained at a symbolic tribunal we helped organize, the “Tribunal de Conciencia de Mujeres Indigenas” (The Indigenous Women’s Tribunal of Conscience), which was a side event of the Forum.

    [L to R] Norma Sactic, member of the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico and Claudia Vargas, Indigenous lawyer, commence the tribunal with a candle lighting ceremony.

    [L to R] Norma Sactic, member of the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico and Claudia Vargas, Indigenous lawyer, commence the tribunal with a candle lighting ceremony.

    Symbolic tribunals articulate and advance justice for people who have experienced crimes that go unpunished. The first was staged after World War II. It was organized by Asian women outraged that the international trials of war criminals in Europe and Japan failed to address sexual slavery as a crime against humanity. Since then, national and regional symbolic tribunals have been organized around the world by women and Indigenous peoples. They are “a mechanism for civil society groups to unshroud invisibility,” said Guadalupe Martinez, subcoordinator of the Alianza de Mujeres Indignas de Centroamerica y Mexico said at our tribunal, where we heard several stories like Angelina’s and shared strategies for holding these healing programs.

    Mexican attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez acted the part of judge on behalf of the Mexican NGO Consejo para Prevenir Eliminar la Disrcimiacion de la Cuidada de Mexico (COPRED, Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discriminiation of the City of Mexico), an organization that is advocating for justice for Angelina. Ms. Lopez detailed the rights that were violated when Angelina was tormented by her peers, ignored by the teachers charged with the safety of their students, turned away by local government officials, and disregarded by other authorities.

    “The state’s obligation to protect its citizens was not met,” Ms. Lopez said. At least ten sets of legal documents exist in Mexico to protect the rights of children, she said, yet none was invoked. Nor was Angelina informed of them. Mexico has laws against discrimination, but the children were not chastised. They were not told they were breaking the law. Local, national, and international laws protecting children, women, and Indigenous people. Laws promising education and equal opportunity. All were violated, none were mobilized. The events violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    [L to R] Attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez, Angelina, and an activist from Mexico.

    [L to R] Attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez, Angelina, and an activist from Mexico.

    Any child who is bullied thinks, “It’s not fair.” Any child denied justice by the adults responsible for protecting her feels that unfairness. The rights enumerated by Ms. Lopez articulated the justice due Angelina. She smiled, ever so slightly, as she listened. Just hearing her rights was a vindication.

    Angelina assumed a false name to speak the truth. She traveled to New York City without her father’s consent. “Today, I give my personal testimony. I sadly say to Mexico, enough is enough.” In full freedom, no bullies in sight, Angelina held steady on her international platform, declaring: “When children suffer, society suffers.”

    “Angelina is like a phoenix,” Angélica García, subdirector at COPRED, said afterwards.

    “We must be moved by love,” said Ms. Martinez of Alianza de Mujeres Indignas de Centroamerica y Mexico. “We want laws not to be dead letters. We must get justice for little girls.”

    The tribunal was organized by MADRE, the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico, and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI); supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York City Office; and facilitated by United Methodist Women.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Peace Building Sexual Rights Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    Recently, our partner Tarcila Rivera Zea – President of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA) and of MADRE’s sister organization CHIRAPAQ – sat down with UN Women to discuss her participation in the 1996 Beijing World Conference on Women and the rights of Indigenous Women. 

    Tarcila during the 2007 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    Tarcila during the 2007 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    “After almost 20 years [since the Beijing Conference], we’ve been able to agree on the topic  of violence. We’re united, indigenous women from all parts of the world, and also with the women’s movement. We’re certainly not alone! So this is a great step forward, and the foundation for the future.

    Today, we indigenous women have our own identity, our own voice. And I believe that we’ve broken the silence. We’ve tried to break the silence in the most private arena: the home, the family, the community. And we’ve worked considerably over the years, at national and international level, so that now we’re not ashamed to call ourselves indigenous women…”

    “Based on the progress in international and national policies, we indigenous women want to be recognized, respected and included in actions affecting our lives. We want to participate fully. We don’t want decisions about the future of our lands, territories, natural resources, the right to food, health and education, to be taken without reference to us.”

    Read more here.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Africa Colombia Economic Justice Environmental Justice Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Kenya Mexico Middle East Palestine Peace Building Sexual Rights Sudan Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    For 30 years, MADRE’s strength has come from our sisters and allies. We are thankful and inspired each day by these incredible activists who have joined us to build lasting solutions for women worldwide.

    When we celebrated our 30th anniversary, we were deeply moved by the photos and messages of support we received from our sisters. On this “Flashback Friday”, we’re sharing some of those messages with you.

    Guatemala - Women Workers Committee

    English Translation

    In this 30th anniversary of MADRE, the women from Guatemala are wishing you a happy birthday and let this year be full of hope and fulfillment for all of us.

    Please receive this present from us. [Sings "Happy Birthday, MADRE!"]

    Colombia - Taller de Vida

    Take my body out of the war

    Although their faces needed to be concealed due to security concerns, the young girls from Taller de Vida wanted to send a thank you for standing by them.

    For those of us at  Taller de Vida, to be a sister organization of MADRE is to feel that we are not alone. We have joined forces to transform the political violence in Colombia through processes which have a great impact on children and families. Our voice can influence international platforms to force the Colombian government  to create programs and policies that offer a response conflict’s countless victims.

    We are bonded by the solidarity of knowing that through MADRE’s support we can achieve change by using art as a form of resilience and to fight the silence of impunity.

    At Taller de Vida, we are boys and girls who due to the conflict were never children. Sisters of MADRE, you have taken our hand, returned our dignity, and  allowed us to advance and transform our history and our fears.

    In your 30th year, we thank you.

    Taller de Vida

    International Indigenous Women’s Forum 

    Sisters,

    Thirty years ago when MADRE started, the position of women in the world was very different. Thanks to the struggle and commitment of each of us, who have worked towards the realization of a change. We can say today that we have achieved significant progress. What, back then, was only utopias and dreams, today are realities.

    Today, we celebrate together with MADRE the successes achieved in the defense of women’s human rights around the world. MADRE has always had its doors open to Indigenous women, who have always felt shelter in being partners with MADRE.

    MADRE, today serves as an important point of reference for many of us, its actions have contributed to the creation of a better world, and for that we are grateful to its commitment, its sense of justice and its determination. And, looking to the future and to the next 30 years, we wish you much strength and success in all the steps that they continue to take.

    Our alliance has contributed to improving our efforts towards the fight for the defense of women’s human rights in different parts of the world. For the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), the sisterhood with MADRE represents the starting point for exchanges of experiences and mutual enrichment, solutions to the numerous challenges that we have to face everyday.

    It is an honor to celebrate this day with you, MADRE.

     

    Palestine - Midwives for Peace

    midwives for peace

    Our partners Midwives for Peace provide critical pre-natal care and childbirth support to women in the West Bank and Israel.

    Dear friends in MADRE,

    We all send you congratulations for your 30th anniversary! We think of you warmly and wish you many more years of supporting women around the globe. In our region, we still feel great need to empower women and as a sister group, we see you as great supporters of us doing this!

    Happy Anniversary,

    Midwives for Peace

    Mexico – K’inal Antsetik

    Queridas compañeras de MADRE,

    Todas las compañeras de K´inal Antsetik les enviamos nuestro más cálido saludo desde Chiapas, México, uniéndonos a ustedes en espíritu en la próxima celebración que, tras treinta años de lucha y trabajo de MADRE, llevarán a cabo el próximo día 11 de marzo.

    Enviamos hoy esta breve carta con el deseo de que cuando brinden en su próxima fiesta, sientan que también nosotras desde este lado del mundo, nos sumamos a ese brindis en reconocimiento de todas las jóvenes activistas que con MADRE suman día a día su esfuerzo, su ilusión y su coraje para construir un mundo con plena vigencia de los derechos humanos de las mujeres.

    Brindamos con todas las que desde hace décadas combaten la inequidad y la injusticia contra las mujeres en todas las partes del mundo y con todas las que seguirán sus pasos, enarbolando esa bandera, llenas de arrojo y fuerza.

    Abrazos fraternos para todas las compañeras de MADRE en sus 30 años!

    K´INAL ANTSETIK A.C.

    English Translation

    Dear sisters at MADRE,

    All of us at K’inal Antsetik are sending you our warmest wishes from Chiapas, Mexico. We join you in spirit during the next celebration of MADRE’s 30 years of activism and work.

    Today we are sending this short message wishing that as you are celebrating in your next party, you feel that we – from our side of the world – are joinging you in toasting to all of the young activists who, with MADRE, are adding their efforts, their vision, and their courage to build a world where women’s human rights are fully respected and fulfilled.

    We toast to all those who, for decades, have been fighting against inequality and injustice towards women all over the world and to those who will follow in their footstepts, raising the flag, full of courage and strength.

    Sisterly hugs to all the colleagues at MADRE for its 30 years!

    K´INAL ANTSETIK A.C

    Sudan - Zenab for Women in Development

    IMG_3489

    Members of the Women’s Farmer Union standing behind seeds for last year’s crops.

    Dear Yifat

    Salaam, hope you are doing well. Thank you so much to MADRE’s staff, volunteers, interns and supporters who have made a big difference in the lives of the most needy women.

    I wish you and MADRE all the success for many years to come. I hope to celebrate the golden age of 50 years of MADRE together.

    All the Best,

    Fatima, president of Zenab for Women in Development

    Kenya - Indigenous Information Network

    Kenya3_Transmara1

    Indigenous women from the Transmara region of Kenya.

    The Indigenous information Network is happy to share photos of some of the women’s groups who joined us in demonstrating our appreciation for MADRE.

    With MADRE’s support, communities now have clean water and livestock that has helped improve the health of those who have benefited. Also, IIN has hosted women’s human rights trainings to empower women who can now speak for themselves.

    As we celebrate throughout the year, we can only hope that our appreciation will motivate MADRE to continue the great work.

    Kenya2_Parkiror Women from West Pokot

    Members of Parakiror with the MADRE banner.

    MADRE, we thank you for supporting us. We are an Indigenous women’s group in the West Pokot community called Parakiror, which means kitchen garden.

    We have benefited from learning women rights, which has further advanced our knowledge in decision making.

    We pray that God continues to give you strength to empower many more. We look forward to the years to come.

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  • Published by Diana Duarte in: Africa Violence Against Women Website

    On my first day of first grade, I cried when my father dropped me off in the schoolyard, scared to be left alone. In sixth grade, I worried about making friends in a new school. In eleventh grade, my knees shook when I stood up to speak at my school’s speech contest.

    I was afraid, but my fears were not unusual. I was a young girl going to school, and my fears helped me grow up.

    But I was never afraid that someone might kidnap or kill me.

    Over 230 girls were studying for their final exams last month at a boarding school in Nigeria. When armed men arrived at their school and ordered them into trucks, the girls thought at first that it was an operation by the Nigerian military. But soon, they realized the danger they were in. The men revealed themselves as members of Boko Haram, a militant group ideologically opposed to education.

    Read the rest of the article on Common Dreams, click here
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