Women's Stories

On 22 February 2012, Bettina Cruz was arrested by agents of the Federal Attorney General's office. Her arrest demonstrates the kinds of risk that a woman human rights defender may face but the outcome is proof that you can defend your community’s rights successfully.
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Mirriam Munthali is a dynamic and brave woman activist-leader from Malawi who is using her voice to speak out on the issues that matter most for women from all walks of life, challenging everyone from fellow church members and her local chief to government officials. Read this inspiring story from Mirriam's own words.
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I got married at the height of the Cambodian peace rallies last year. During this time, the women’s groups in the peace rallies formed a volunteer paramedic team and I immediately joined. But, this decision became our first marital argument. But today my husband has realized why it is important to get involved. He just says, “Run very fast when police starts dispersing.”
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Zimbabwean activist, Prayers Mushava, shares her powerful story of how she became an activist: "The reality of what it means to be a woman became [even] clearer when I met JASS in 2013. I began to see life through a feminist lens and realized that disobedience can be celebrated, especially if it aims to defeat structures that harden women’s lives whilst privileging men."
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Basali Amoho provides a container for women’s activism as individuals and as a community. The group aims to bring diverse women together, whatever their religion or background, to advocate against gender imbalances and violence against women.
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“As a Cambodian woman, everyday is a constant negotiation for me. After endless discussions, I was able to convince my mother to give me a chance to get a higher education. It almost seemed impossible, but I was able to do it,” says Chamnorng Som, member of the JASS-inspired organization CYWEN.
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How can you best support poor women in their struggles for a steadier livelihood when survival is a daily battle? In an interview with JASS Southeast Asia's Osang Langara, PEKKA's Oemi Faezathi explains how this process begins with organizing around women's practical needs.
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"The things that I now recognize as activism are things I’ve been doing for years. Questioning basic things like the hierarchies in school and the home – recognizing injustices, getting angry about them, and then in small ways starting to do something about them. When you know something’s wrong, you say something because you can’t be silent."
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For me, the idea of ‘women crossing the line’ means women pushing forward and continuing to advance progressive women’s rights agenda’s in all corners of the world. It's a collective moving forward, it is a stampede; it is all women finding the strength to claim our power.
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As an educator and community leader with limitless energy, Margarita Martinez’s strength and personality touches all those who meet her. Despite the risks of doing her human rights work, she has stood up to those who want to silence her – she has become a women human rights defender and a true inspiration.
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