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MADRE Partner Recognized for Dedication to Rural Women's Issues

Posted on: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keywords: Nicaragua, Latin America, Indigenous Rights, CSW

On January 15, Mirna Cunningham was announced as the recipient of the 2012 NGO CSW Woman of Distinction Award.  MADRE congratulates Mirna, a long-time friend who has dedicated her life to advocating for Indigenous and women's rights.


Ms. Mirna Cunningham Kain Recognized for Dedication to Rural Women and Indigenous Peoples’ Issues

January 15, 2012 – New York, NY – The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO/CSW/NY), one of three women’s committees of CONGO that advocates for women’s rights and gender equality, is proud to announce the 2012 NGO CSW Woman of Distinction awardee. Ms. Mirna Cunningham Kain, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues, is this year’s recipient. She will be the keynote speaker at the NGO/CSW/NY Consultation Day (26 February), along with Michelle Bachelet, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women. To register for Consultation Day please see the website: (Deadline extended to 4 February)

Ms. Cunningham Kain, an indigenous Miskita woman from Nicaragua, became the first female Miskita doctor. Following the victory of the Sandinista Revolution, Ms. Cunningham Kain returned to her community as an organizer and leader, and later became the first female Miskita governor of the autonomous region. As governor, she played an integral role in the negotiation of peace agreements that resulted in the approval of the Law of Autonomy of the Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities from the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (1987) and the establishment of the first autonomous regional governments. She served as Deputy of the Autonomous Region of the North Atlantic Coast (RAAN) in the National Assembly as well as the Autonomous Regional Council of the RAAN.  

In the 90’s, Ms. Cunningham Kain became the founding director of the University of the Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast (URACCAN), one of Latin America’s first institutions of indigenous and intercultural higher education with a focus on gender. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, and serves as an advisor to three international indigenous groups: the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Mexico and Central America, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI).  Ms. Cunningham Kain is also President of the Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI).

The formal presentation of the NGO/CSW/NY Woman of Distinction award will take place at the annual NGO Reception, to be held 28 February at the Turkish Center 6 – 8 pm.  

About the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY

The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO/CSW/NY) is one of three women’s committees of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO). Under CoNGO’s umbrella, the NGO/CSW committees helped plan the NGO Forums at the UN World conferences in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing. The NGO/CSW/NY advocates for implementation of the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, Beijing Platform for Action, UN Security Resolutions such as 1325, the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The NGO/CSW/NY works in partnership with other CoNGO committees to organize the NGO CSW Forum that includes Consultation Day in preparation for the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings. It also facilitates interaction between NGOs and the UN on a wide range of issues including peace and security/violence against women, women’s health, migrant and refugee women, climate change and the environment. The NGO/CSW/NY represents approximately 80 organizations and is a volunteer-based, non-profit NGO funded largely by individual contributions.

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