In Nicaragua, we work with our local partner Wangki Tangni to end violence against women and to advance women’s rights. One of the ways we do that is by supporting local activists and women’s rights defenders called “promotoras.” Here are two of their stories:
How did you become a women’s rights defender and activist?
Twenty years ago, my mother Florencia and I started Mujeres Indigenas Organizadas en Rio Coco. We worked with women in communities, held meetings and coordinated transportation with other NGOs in the area to make the visits possible.
We gave support to women facing violence. Florencia, my mom, gave them shelter, and brought them to the police and to judges. We didn’t have the money to go it alone, so we started coordinating with Wangki Tangni and Rose (Wangki Tangni’s Executive Director) and became promotoras…
My mother was a huge influence on my becoming an activist. For my entire life, she has helped women. And she sees every case through and accompanies women every step of the way — through justice, to Rose, whatever is needed... I like to say that she is a lifetime promotora of the neighborhood.
How would you describe your activist work?
One day, Rose asked if wanted to be a promotora. She sent me to study cases [of human rights violations] in the region, and I liked doing the human rights work with women. I am working with women as a promotora, supporting Wangki Tangni, and I’m so thankful to Wangki Tangni for this experience. Now I know how to put myself in front of other women. I know how to speak up and out without being afraid. And this is what I try to bring to the women in the communities. When I do trainings, I feel I am giving something more to other people and improving my work with women.
Tell me about yourself.
My personal interest is to help other women who live in violence and don’t know their rights -- to let them know they can overcome their situations and move forward. There is a girl in my neighborhood who lives with violence, and I didn’t know. But this year I invited her to the women’s rights forum and after she went to the forum she told me, “Thank you so much for inviting me. It has opened my eyes. Before I was blind.” And she told me that before the forum her husband abused her, and that because of the forum, she knows her rights. And when her husband called her one night during the forum and demanded she come home, she said, “No! I’m at a gathering of women and I know my rights.”
What inspired you to become a leader?
It came from my mother, because she fought and is also a promotora in her community. She’s also active in the church. It came from her and also from other women like Florencia and Rose, who have devoted their lives to this.
How do you think your life will be different in 5 years?
Each year, we keep changing attitudes, we keep chipping away. I think I’m going to have more experience and more ability to make my own decisions, and I’m going to keep overcoming things to be better at this work, to be a better promotora.