Mesoamerica - Allies

JASS Mesoamerica’s programs heavily rely on a continuous collaboration with numerous local, national and regional partners and allies. A core political principle of our work in the region is the building of alliances, networks and linkages with processes, movements, organizations and activists with whom we have a shared vision and common objectives. On an institutional level, we have built far-reaching processes with the following organizations:

El Salvador 

AMS was founded in 1987 to facilitate movement-building processes with rural women, women workers in informal sectors and sex workers to take on the leadership of their own empowerment and political participation.

Honduras 

A social and feminist institution, CDM is committed to defending and promoting women’s human rights in Honduras through legal aid, legal education, advocacy and community-organizing. Their objective is to contribute to the construction of an inclusive democracy committed to women’s human rights and to end violence against women.

Nicaragua 

Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM) was created in 2003 to contribute to guaranteeing the right of Central American women to physical and emotional integrity, economic justice and to promote their participation as leaders in making decisions that affect their lives and communities. FCAM supports grassroots organizations led by and comprised of women, with a special emphasis on young women that work to promote and defend their human rights through grant-making programs, capacity building, accompaniment, monitoring and evaluation.  

In addition to grant-making, FCAM supports the consolidation of partner groups and organizations through its capacity-building program, which shares knowledge and tools, and provides opportunities for exchange and the creation of networks and alliances.

JASS works with FCAM through the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative.

Mexico 

Consorcio is a feminist organization founded in 1998 seeking to strengthen the political participation of women and the creation of a democratic and just society and rule of law by: influencing legislation in favor of women rights, involving civil organizations in the creation of legislation, maintaining an open dialogue between women’s organizations, social movements and legislators, among others. As an institutional partner, Consorcio and JASS collaborate to support and accompany women human rights defenders in Mexico.

El Salvador 

In 2008, la Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local (Feminist Collective) was founded with the philosophy of creating a relationship model for women organizers, which has led to a joining of diverse visions of women from the urban cities to the rural areas of El Salvador, with different ideologies and religions. This coming together has given way for women organizing on a national-level, promoting collective processes that seek to recognize and support women’s rights.

The Feminist Collective is made up of a group of twenty feminists, and a wider network of volunteers, who seek to contribute to the eradication of subordination and discrimination of women, understanding women’s movement-building as a political tool, founded on the concrete and daily realities of women and their local contexts. JASS collaborates with the Feminist Collective through the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative.

A Mesoamerican alliance of diverse women leaders, activists and feminists from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and the USA mobilizes regional and international action and solidarity in response to key moments where media and joint action will spotlight women’s agendas. Sustained by an active virtual network involved in training and sharing knowledge, the Petateras share a vision of rebuilding the social fabric with the values of reciprocity and caring.

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The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative was launched in 2010 in order to develop a comprehensive and regionally-relevant response to increased violence against women human rights defenders. The Initiative is dedicated to strengthening and mobilizing women defenders from distinct social movements and organizations for recognition, enhanced impact and protection in a volatile context. Through an innovative approach that places gender at the heart of protection, the Initiative has been built from the bottom up by convening and organizing a wide range of women defenders from across Mexico and Central America, including those most vulnerable to violence such as rural and indigenous women defending land rights and environmental justice, lesbian and transgender activists, and feminists advocating for an end to violence.

Founded and led by a political alliance between JASS Mesoamerica, La Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local (El Salvador), AWID, Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad, Oaxaca (México), Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala, (UDEFEGUA) and the Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM), the Initiative benefits from an unusual blend of experience, expertise, geographic scope and relationships. The Initiative’s programs are mainly carried out through National Networks in El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. They combine training, self-care, research, social media activism, urgent action and human rights advocacy to raise awareness about the important but often invisible leadership role played by women defenders in the advancement of human rights.

IMD has involved hundreds of women human rights defenders, movements and organizations in shaping and advancing a women-led, cross-movement human rights agenda with several concrete results and accomplishments in three years. Prior to engaging with the Initiative, most women activists would not have called themselves ‘human rights defenders’ and many were skeptical about human rights as a set of ‘failed promises’. While often working in isolation or facing social stigma for speaking out, the act of claiming the title of 'women human rights defender' has helped them to acknowledge the risks they face because of their work in promoting human rights and to take measures to protect themselves. Through the training and information that the Initiative provides, women defenders have learned how to access national, regional, and international human rights tools and mechanisms that explicitly support human rights defenders, and that can provide emergency protection and funds to women activists. So far, the Initiative has:

  • Established a methodology and registry to gather data on attacks and threats against women human rights defenders, the first of its kind in the world;
  • Produced 2 regional reports mapping trends and perpetrators which have made the Initiative a go-to source for regional media, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders (who used the data in her 2011 report) and utilized by the Inter-American Commision on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Protection International, Peace Brigades International, etc;
  • Contributed to the passage in 2013 of a UN Resolution on the Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders by the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly;
  • Directly trained and organized over 380 activists, leaders and journalists in risk prevention, human rights mechanisms, self-care and other strategies; these women have, in turn, trained their organizations and communities reaching 1000s of other activists and movements;  
  • Handled 112 cases where a woman human rights defender was at risk and needed services, including relocation for her and her family;
  • Created 4 national defensoras’ networks in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador which operate as the first line of prevention and protection, ensuring ongoing communication among diverse defenders and protection for those under threat;   
  • Mobilized the resources of regional and international organizations—including JASS, UDEFEGUA, Colectiva Feminista, Consorcio-Oaxaca, AWID and the Central American Women’s Fund which make up the core partnership—and combined that with more than 2 million dollars in financial support to build and sustain these growing efforts;  
  • Innovated a movement-building and feminist approach to protection and risk prevention that relies on a mix of awareness-raising, claiming of the mantle of human rights defender for visibility, network-building, and human rights strategies in a context where fragile states are unable and unwilling to be accountable.

 

Mexico 

Consorcio Oaxaca’s mission is to contribute to the achievement of full rights for women as citizens, necessary for a just, plural, and equal society, and for the strengthening of the rule of law. To this end they work on: Promoting civic participation for a democratic, just and inclusive society; Participating in feminist and women’s networks and promoting alliances with civil society organizations in order to put an end to the violation of human rights and violence against women; Strengthening the organization and leadership of indigenous, mestizas, rural and urban women so as to: defend their rights, fight against gendered violence and promote their participation in decision making in all sectors of society. Consorcio Oaxaca and JASS collaborate to support women activists through the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative.

Panama 

Founded in 1977, CEASPA works with and for the poor and excluded communities in Panama and in the region to strengthen social justice and people’s participation in building better society. CEASPA works through two processes: research and popular education and action.  It has a dedicated program focused on gender equality and women’s political participation.

Panama 

The life and work of Raúl Leis, one of the most important popular educators and human rights activists in Panama and across the region, inspired the creation of the institute, which continues the energy and unconditional giving that Leis gave to CEASPA, the Panamanian Center for Research and Social Action, which he founded and directed, and CEAAL, the General Council of Adult Education in Latin America, where he coordinated the Secretariat from 2005-2011.

The mission of the Raúl Leis Institute is to strengthen participatory democracy, promotion of human rights, environmental sustainability through training, applied research and the creation of spaces for dialogue and debate, autonomously and collectively, for political advocacy, citizen empowerment and social transformation. The Institute is based on the ethics of popular education and sustains alliances with Panamanian and international actors that share the Raúl Leis’ values and work and education principles. 

Guatemala 

Sinergia No’j was founded in 2006 with the objective of strengthening the leadership of social movements, in particular those of indigenous peoples, women and youth in Guatemala. Their work is focused on training and leadership development processes through Schools with indigenous and youth leaders and in strengthening organizations that work with women’s and feminist movements. As an institutional partner, JASS collaborates with Sinergia to accompany indigenous women communicators and support women defenders in Guatemala and across the region.

Guatemala 

La Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos, Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) was founded in 2004 with the objective of promoting the security of human rights defenders in Guatemala and to contribute to the protection of the political space in which they work. The Unit’s programs support threatened human rights defenders and their organizations, and advise them about prevention and response to threats and attacks, through the provision of information, training, monitoring and psychological support. In addition, UDEFEGUA promotes the protection of these people on the part of government institutions and the international community. UDEFEGUA is a leading partner in the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative.