Mexico: Building an Indigenous Women's Movement, Project Update
Posted on: Saturday, August 9, 2008
MADRE works in Chiapas, Mexico, to support Indigenous Chiapanecan women in building sustainable livelihoods, strengthening women’s cooperatives, and building skills to increase social and political participation. Our project, Building an Indigenous Women’s Movement, is implemented in collaboration with K’inal Antzetik ("Women's Earth" in Tzeltal). Together we operate a community human rights training center where Indigenous women build their capacity to take an active role in public life and progressive social movements. The center, founded in 2004, offers literacy training, skill-building workshops, community-based trauma counseling for survivors of armed violence, and a program to promote women’s access to formal education. This year, the training center has served over 500 women who have attended trainings and meetings or used its facilities.
With the support of the International Foundation, we provided leadership trainings to better enable Indigenous women to oversee the management of the center. Between January and June 2008, eight women from the Jolom Mayaetik cooperative and the center’s Executive Committee met 12 times to learn about political and gender analysis, consensus-building, conflict resolution, public speaking, and media strategy.
MADRE also provided ongoing workshops on women’s issues for 20 women each month. These workshops enabled women (including young women) to explore issues such as health, education, political participation, migration and poverty from a gender perspective. We also discussed with participants how they can use popular-education techniques to provide informal trainings in their communities.
Support from the International Foundation has also been critical in creating a communications area at the training center. In order to preserve and promote the history of Indigenous women’s organizing in Chiapas and to document their current struggles, we have conducted monthly participatory radio programming trainings for young women and bought media supplies such as computers and audio-visual equipment. Trainings have covered scripting programs, conducting interviews, and planning musical content, as well as technical skills such as the use of manual and digital recording devices, soundboards, and software for the composition of radio programs.
An important aspect of the communications trainings is empowering young Indigenous women to promote their languages, cultures and identities through media outlets. By conducting interviews during the training process, young participants learn about the experiences of Indigenous women and the history of their communities.