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JASS Movements Newsletter

July 2014

Dear Friends,

From Gaza to Ukraine to the US-border, we are reminded of how interlinked our humanity and histories truly are, and of the importance of global citizenship—speaking out against injustice and war wherever it may be.

However, it is the 57,000 unaccompanied children streaming to the US border that hits particularly close to home for us, especially JASS Mesoamerica. Unfortunately, this exodus of children comes as no surprise. Just imagine what it means to live in Honduras, a country with a fragile government and the highest murder rate in the world. When violence is the norm and schools are struggling, and when the pressures of organized crime bear down, fleeing offers the only hope for the future. The only surprise is how long this took to become a headline story.

This has become a humanitarian crisis and a powerful history lesson, with its roots spanning decades—from the US-backed overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatemala to the funneling of billions of dollars in security aid that ultimately reinforces corrupt governments and breeds violence. The lasting economic effects of “free trade” that devastated farming and other small industries have left this region struggling and shredded the social fabric.

This unraveling of the social fabric is precisely what the community organizing and network-building that JASS and our partners do, works to solve. We seek to weave new communities that sustain and support women leaders and their families, and build networks that both amplify their voices for justice and serve as a safety net against violence. It is only through building these communities, locally and globally, that we sustain hope and resist war.

As always, we thank you for your support and solidarity.

Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community

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Women Unite Against Ethnic & Gender Discrimination in Myanmar

Tin Tin Nyo, APFF, Chiangmai, Thailand
photo credit: APWLD

Women’s groups in Myanmar have come together to challenge proposed legislation that would fan hatred and reduce women’s freedoms. The Inter-faith Marriage Law—proposed by the Organization for the Protection of Race, Religion and Belief linked to the infamous 969 movement—would prevent Buddhist women from marrying people of other religions, a calculated move to further control the Muslim minority and women. During a recent workshop convened by JASS Southeast Asia, courageous activists leading these efforts explained how they have been called “whores” and are threatened with violence to silence their opposition. Despite the risks, they have organized more than 160 women’s and human rights groups to sign a joint statement and more recently, with support from JASS and the Nobel Women’s Initiative, are mobilizing global solidarity and visibility. Read more

Are Women's Rights in Africa a Matter of Supply & Demand?

Women can sit in Parliament until they go red in the face but that’s not where decisions are made. JASS has a wonderful way of bringing the pressure and support that pushes them to take action but we [women’s movements] are not addressing this question—where is the real power?” asks JASS advisor, Everjoice Win. From 50/50 campaigns to the SADC Gender Protocol Summit, increasing women’s political leadership has been on the top of gender equality agendas since the mid-1990s. But women’s rights advocates recognize that, while having more elected women is important, governments are not the sole locus of power and decision-making. As global private actors play bigger roles in shaping the future of development it becomes increasingly important for citizens to be better informed and more strategic about targeting the real decision-makers when demanding justice and rights. Read more

SADC Gender Protocol, Benoni Cynhia R Matonhodze, Joburg, South Africa
photo credit: Newsday

Women Lead Efforts to Defend Land Rights in Mesoamerica

Women Defend Land Rights in Mesoamerica
photo credit: Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

"We want respect for our natural resources…and for our bodies. This is our struggle as indigenous women and as rural women," explained Ada Osorio, a Honduran Miskito leader (an indigenous group on the Atlantic Coast) during JASS Mesoamerica’s regional leadership training school, Alquimia. Across Mexico and Central America, indigenous women are leading their communities in efforts to defend their territories and natural resources against unregulated extraction projects and land grabs in the name of “development.” From the Kunas of Panama to the Mixtecas on the Mexico-United States border, women are exposing the injustices of mining and logging companies, and the corrupt policies of their government, who are sending police and military units to repress activist communities. Read more

JASS Advisor Appointed to UN Working Group

JASS is proud to announce that Alda Facio, advisor and member of JASS Mesoamerica’s team, was appointed to the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and in Practice in June 2014. As a former Costa Rican judge and an international human rights expert, this appointment recognizes Dr. Facio's extraordinary contributions and commitment to women’s rights around the world. The Working Group is tasked with identifying, promoting and exchanging views on good practices to eliminate laws that discriminate against women and developing a dialogue with States and other actors on laws that have a discriminatory impact.

Alda Facio, UN Working Group