From Survivors to Defenders


"The war on drugs has become a war on women" says the new report from the women’s rights fact-finding mission organized by JASS and the Nobel Women’s Initiative in January 2012. As part of the official launch of the report, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams joined four extraordinary women human rights defenders from Mexico and Central America, JASS Mesoamerica’s Regional Coordinator Marusia Lopez, Laura Carlsen (America’s Program) and JASS’ Director for 3 days of events in Washington, DC, including a public event at the USIP, meetings with high-level officials in the US State Department and Senate, media interviews and a congressional briefing.

The report’s launch took place on June 5 with a telepress conference held in Washington, DC, moderated by Maria Hinojosa (Broadcast Journalist and President of Futuro Media Group): SpeakersJody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, Laura Carlsen, Director of the America’s Program in Mexico City, Gilda Rivera, Center for Women’s Rights in Honduras (with translator), Almina Olopio, daughter of Hilda Lezama—owner of the boat fired upon in the recent joint US-Honduran drug raid.

The following day JASS and the Nobel Women’s Initiative hosted a Twitter chat (hashtag: #Defensoras) that featured JASS Executive Director, Lisa VeneKlasen, the chat focused on the key findings of the report and the specific ways the public can help.

Targeted killing of women—including women human rights defenders—has risen alarmingly in recent years in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, reaching crisis proportions, says a new report. In January 2012, the Nobel Women’s Initiative and JASS (Just Associates) organized a 12-day fact-finding mission to these countries led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu Tum to review the situation of violence against women. The delegation met with grassroots and national women’s organizations working to end violence against women and their communities and learn about the strategies these women are using to end the violence.

The report from this fact-finding delegation documents numerous cases of violence against women and women activists – including disappearances, murder and rape- and examines the efforts of women to address the increased violence, and how militarization and security policies are contributing to the increased violence. The report includes specific recommendations for the governments of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Canada and the United States. These findings and conclusions are based on the testimonies and meetings with more than 200 women and government officials from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.