IM-Defensoras: Pioneering feminist protection and sustaining activism
Women who cross the line are stronger when they do it together. Individually, their actions might only cause a ripple, but together, they create waves. That is why we are shining a spotlight on collective action during #16DaysOfActivism.
On DAY 14 of #16DaysofActivism, JASS honors the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (Spanish acronym, IM-Defensoras – IMD), a political alliance that strengthens and mobilizes women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the volatile and increasingly violent contexts of Mexico and Central America (Mesoamerica). Co-founded and co-led by JASS Mesoamerica and five key regional and international partners – Consorcio-Oaxaca, AWID, UDEFEGUA, La Colectiva Feminista and The Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM) – the IMD brings together more than 950 diverse activists around a unified goal: to keep women activists safe, both physically and emotionally, so that they can continue defending human rights and justice for all.From lesbian and transgender activists to indigenous women defending their land against illegal mining and women journalists working to expose the truth, what brings these women defenders together is the gendered nature of the violence they face and their shared determination to challenge injustice.
The IMD responds to the Mesoamerican regional crisis of political violence and attacks on activists with an approach that engages its members’ experience, expertise, geographic scope, and relationships. The Initiative’s power comes from its cutting-edge model and, in its seven-year history, its pioneering contribution to the field of protection at the regional and global levels. In 2014, the IMD’s powerful work was awarded the prestigious Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Award.
Since 2010, IMD:
- Developed a holistic protection model that integrates a nuanced gender perspective to the attacks and responses, and raises awareness of risks, all while promoting self-care as key to sustaining activism.
- Co-built and coordinates with 5 national women defenders networks in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.
- Manages Urgent Action and Self-Care Funds, and shelters for women defenders, their families, and their organizations.
- Collects and analyzes systematic data and statistics on attacks, threats, and the needs of women defenders through the Mesoamerican Registry of Attacks against WHRDs, the only system of its kind in the world.
- Produces periodic assessment reports with an in-depth gender analysis on the nature of violence faced by women defenders in the region.
To learn more about IMD’s story and work, be sure to check out:
- Paving the Road for Freedom & Equality
- Violence against Women Human Rights Defenders: Summary Findings 2012
- Violence Against WHRDs in Mesoamerica, 2012-2014 Report