• 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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  • Published by Alexandra Pollock in: Colombia Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Violence Against Women Website

    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 shares findings from the "Stop Hunting Children" report.

    Stella Duque Cuesta shares findings from the “Stop Hunting Children” report.

    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.

    A former child soldier's artistic expression of her experience in the conflict

    A former child soldier’s artistic expression of her experience in the conflict

    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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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Africa Economic Justice Indigenous Peoples Kenya Sexual Rights Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    Have you heard the story of the healthy baby girl who was born during a MADRE women’s human rights training? No, it is not folklore. It is a real life example of a mother’s determination to provide the best for herself, her child and her community.

    IMG_1979small

    Yifat holding newborn baby Rose Mulenkei

    One day, in 2011, women from seven different Indigenous communities in Kenya participated in a MADRE human rights training. One of the attendees was Elizabeth, a pre-school teacher and local human rights activist. Wanting to learn how women like her could exercise their rights at home and in their villages, Elizabeth insisted on staying – even as the early stages of her labor progressed.

    Later that afternoon, she gave birth to her daughter at a clinic across the path from the place where the training was held.

    During a visit with the new mother and the baby, Yifat Susskind, MADRE’s Executive Director, was told the most touching news: Elizabeth decided to name her daughter Rose Mulenkei.

    Her first name comes from Rose Cunningham Kain, our partner from Nicaragua who led the training. Her middle name was inspired by Lucy Mulenkei, the director of our Kenyan sister organization, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN).

    [L to R] Lucy Mulenkei and Rose Cunningham Kain

    [L to R] Lucy Mulenkei and Rose Cunningham Kain

    On the ride back to the village, Elizabeth expressed gratitude and relief that there would be clean water for her daughter to drink when she stopped nursing. She recounted the many people who became sick due to drinking water from a nearby spring, which was also shared by livestock.

    Now, through the efforts of IIN and MADRE, there is a community-managed water purification system that has contributed to the decrease of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

    Elizabeth also shared that what she most wanted was for Rose to go to school. She told Yifat that many girls in her village were unable to receive an education. Instead, they were kept at home to work and then to get married, often before the age of 15.

    Learning about the obstacles girls from Elizabeth’s community faced, Yifat wondered how she was able to receive early childhood training and become a teacher. Elizabeth responded by putting her arms around her mother, who was also in the car, and said, “Yes, because my mother also wanted a better life for me.”

    There is nothing like a mother’s will.

    In honor of Mother’s Day, this story is part of our “MADRE Mothers” series. To read more profiles on the amazing women who make our work possible, click here.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Uncategorized

    Effectively confronting environmental threats, such as climate change and deforestation, depends on women. Here are examples of women taking the lead in making the planet a better place for all of us.

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  • Published by Diana Duarte in: Environmental Justice Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Nicaragua Website Women's Health

    In honor of Mother’s Day, “MADRE Mothers” is a series featuring some of the amazing women who make our work possible.

    [L to R] Larissa and Vivian Rose Plazaola in 2007 and 2013

    [L to R] Larissa and Vivian Rose in 2007 and 2013.
    Look how much Vivian Rose has grown!

    Vivian Rose has breathed activism in the air around her since the day she was born.

    As a MADRE supporter, you may have seen the first photo above on our website or in our newsletter. It was taken back in 2007, capturing a beautiful moment. You see a curious Vivian Rose watching the camera and her smiling mother, Larissa. But you may not know the story behind it. You may not know all that women and girls like Larissa and Vivian Rose have made possible since that day.

    MADRE has partnered with Indigenous women on Nicaragua’s North Atlantic coast for decades. Together with our sister organization, Wangki Tangni, we provide seeds to women farmers. We dig wells and bring clean water to communities.

    Back in 2007, Larissa brought her infant daughter to a MADRE training on farming and human rights. In the years since, Larissa has grown as a leader in Wangki Tangni. She coordinates activities for youth in the community, teaching them about their Indigenous culture.

    Just a few months ago, we had the chance to catch up with Larissa and Vivian Rose again. MADRE staff traveled to Nicaragua for a forum held every year since 2008 for Indigenous women community organizers. Larissa and other women came together to address the biggest threats they and their daughters face. They were determined to create solutions to combat poverty and protect their daughters from violence.

    When we work beside our partners for the long-haul, we can help sustain their innovative solutions. And we can watch vibrant girls like Vivian Rose grow up into powerful women leaders.

    Vivian Rose is the namesake of two extraordinary women leaders. Vivian Stromberg is MADRE’s co-founder and senior advisor. Rose Cunningham is a longtime MADRE partner and leader of Wangki Tangni. We won’t be at all surprised if Vivian Rose continues their legacy of activism.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Uncategorized Website

    What we wrote, read, listened to, remembered, watched and were inspired by last week.

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  • Published by Sahita Pierre-Antoine in: Uncategorized Website

    Next year — 2015 — is the deadline for the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were created to guide government policies on some of the most pressing threats of our time — poverty, hunger and more.

    Recently, Indigenous women met to share the challenges they have faced in implementing the MDGs in their communities. They put forward their demand that the post-2015 global development agenda reflect their priorities as women and as Indigenous Peoples.

    [L to R] Otilia Lux de Coti, Rose Cunnigham Kain and Tarcila Rivera Zea.

    [L to R] Otilia Lux de Coti, Rose Cunningham Kain and Tarcila Rivera Zea.

    They met at an event co-sponsored by MADRE and RLS-NYC, called “Indigenous Women and the MDGs – Challenges and Lessons Learned.” This event featured as panelists these Indigenous women leaders:

    MADRE is a partner to all three Indigenous organizations: Wangki Tangni, CHIRAPAQ and FIMI. All the panelists spoke about their advocacy and programs for Indigenous women and Peoples.

    Otilia Lux de Coti, Executive Director of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF-FIMI)

    Otilia Lux de Coti, Executive Director of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF-FIMI)

    These grassroots activists discussed the failure of governments to achieve the MDGs for Indigenous Peoples. But the panelists also highlighted the efforts of Indigenous organizations and networks, and their work to fill the gaps left by national and international development projects.

    Indigenous Peoples are often not considered in government policies and programs. If they are, the help they receive is often superficial. These assistance programs do not take a holistic approach to the issues they wish to solve. They disregard all advances or practices already implemented by Indigenous Peoples.

    For example, programs on HIV/AIDS, malaria, child mortality and maternal health are often run in urban areas. These programs do not reach Indigenous Peoples who live in rural areas. Distance and cost makes these essential services inaccessible to Indigenous Peoples.  In addition, Indigenous healers, midwives and traditional medical practices are neither respected nor supported by government initiatives.

    Tarcila Rivera Zea, President of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA)

    Tarcila Rivera Zea, President of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA) and of CHIRAPAQ, a MADRE sister organization

    These government assistance programs tend to treat Indigenous Peoples in a degrading manner. Tarcila pointed out that Indigenous Peoples deserve respect not pity.

    “We are not objects of charity,” she said. “We want recognition as women and as people with rights!”

    The Indigenous movement has been fighting for decades for recognition. They have struggled for decades to be seen and heard as human beings who deserve to enjoy the fullest range of their individual and collective rights.

    As Otilia explained, “All the mechanisms created as resources for Indigenous Peoples are the results of the efforts of Indigenous women, youth, and people. They did not come from the governments or the United Nations.”

    Indigenous Peoples will not let obstacles deter them from their goals. Indigenous women and youth continue to work together to build human rights from their Indigenous perspective.

    Most importantly, they will build a common strategy to demand that Indigenous Peoples be consulted and prioritized as we establish global sustainable development policies in the years to come.

    Young activist attending the panel discussion.

    Young activists attending the panel discussion.

     

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Africa Emergency & Disaster Relief Haiti Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Middle East Nicaragua Peace Building Sexual Rights Sudan United Nations Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    In the chaos of conflict or following a natural disaster, women are the most vulnerable to violence. Serving as providers of support for both their families and communities, women are also often the ones left attempting to rebuild their lives and their country when the dust settles.

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  • Published by Kat Noel in: Afghanistan Africa Colombia Colombia Child Soldiers Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Middle East Peace Building Sexual Rights Sudan Uncategorized

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

    As the world remembers the more than one million lives that were lost and devastated by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, conflict continues in Syria, Sudan, Israel and Palestine.

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