Women-Led Initiative Honored By International Human Right Award


(June 02, 2014) – JASS (Just Associates) is proud to announce that the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative has been honored with the 2014 Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights. The Initiave was co-founded in 2010 by JASS Mesoamerica in collaboration with five partners to strengthen and protect women human rights activists in Mexico and Central America who are attacked and even killed as a result of their justice work. The Initiative consists of regional and national urgent action networks in El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras that bring together a range of women defenders, from women journalists and LBT and feminist activists, to mothers pursuing justice for family members and indigenous women defending their land against illegal mining.

While male defenders facing backlash are often supported by their families and networks, women defenders are often  blamed for being ‘bad mothers’ or putting their families in danger, which adds to their vulnerability,” says JASS Mesoamerica Regional Director Marusia Lopez Cruz, who serves as the Initiative’s coordinator. “The Initiative’s work gives women defenders greater clout and reduces their risk through a shield of self-defense and mutual support,” adds Marusia.

Since its founding, the Initiative has provided women defenders with training in human rights, security and self-care, created rapid-response networks for them, documented cases of attacks against them, published in-depth gendered analysis of the violence they confront, and worked with a range of international human rights institutions to ensure that protection policies better serve women. JASS Mesoamerica currently coordinates the Initiative in partnership with Consorcio para el Dialogo Parlamentario y la Equidad-Oaxaca, AWID, UDEFEGUA, La Colectiva Feminista, and Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM).

"This award recognizes the often invisible contributions and leadership of women in the advancement of human rights." ~ Lisa VeneKlasen, JASS Executive Director

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) created the Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights to honor the memory of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, IPS colleagues murdered in Washington D.C. in 1976 by a car bomb denoted by agents of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. While paying homage to Letelier and Moffitt, the award celebrates “new heroes of the human rights movement from the US and the Americas."

"This award recognizes the often invisible contributions and leadership of women in the advancement of human rights. Many in the JASS community have historical connections to the Chilean human rights struggle and to IPS, making this moment a special marker of decades-long efforts for justice,” stated JASS’ Executive Director, Lisa VeneKlasen.

Contact: Natalia Escrucería, natalia at justassociates.org, Office +1.202.232.1211, Cell 1.925.783.4098