Dear friends and supporters,
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Central America Women’s Network. It also marks the final point of CAWN as an active organisation.
In 1991, during an intense period of civil war and revolution in Central America, a group of enthusiastic women active in different solidarity and human rights campaigns in the UK decided to join forces, to raise awareness more widely about the gender specific struggles of Central American women. The Central America Women’s Network was born as a loose network of women activists working on a voluntary basis and over the years grew into a registered charity managing large-scale projects focused on campaigning, advocacy and other forms of support and solidarity for the gender equality struggles of women in the region. Reflecting on the last 25 years of activism and solidarity, it has been an honor to work with so many inspirational women, both in Central America and in Europe, and with amazing partners in the region to support their fight for a better, more equal and just society, where everyone is treated with dignity.
Sadly, this 25th anniversary will also be the last one that we will celebrate. After several years of uncertainty we have come to accept that the funding environment in the UK and in Europe no longer allows a small network like ours to exist on a financially sustainable basis, covering core office costs and with sufficient funds to carry out effective projects. However, although many gains have been made, there have also been many setbacks and the need to defend women’s rights in Central America is as great today as it was over two decades ago. The emergence of new technologies that have eased and speeded up communications has given rise to new ways of maintaining solidarity with women’s groups in the region. We hope that CAWN supporters will keep up the struggle and continue the work of CAWN using both new and traditional forms of solidarity to make links and build bridges between feminist women’s groups in Central America and others who share their values and interests.
In order to commemorate these 25 years of solidarity, we are organising the CAWN’s 25th Anniversary and Closing event, to be held at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA on Friday 25th November from 3.30pm – 9pm. This will be a two part event – invited speakers will join us to reflect on CAWN’s work and discuss the current situation for women’s rights in the region, followed by a Latin-American themed celebration with music, poetry and food. If you wish to attend, please RSVP early to email@example.com to reserve your place (21st November at the very latest), and let us know if you are attending the afternoon sessions, the evening or both.
Finally, we want to thank you, our friends, supporters, volunteers and colleagues, for – even if briefly – walking this path with us. It would not have been possible without your support.
29 September 2016
The 13th AWID forum was held in Bahia, Brazil over four day (September 8-12 2016) bringing together over 1,800 women (and a few men too) from 130 countries: young and older feminist, of different races, ethnicities, gender identities and abilities, as well as representatives of donors and the UN. The theme of intersectionality and the increasing feminist influence within diverse movements (such as the disability movement) as well as greater transnational activism in the feminist movement were threads running throughout the Forum. Women’s struggles around the world were presented and a wide range of themes such as resistance to patriarchal structures and dictatorships, protecting the environment from corporate interests, and women human rights defenders fighting back . Even though it is impossible to summarise in a few paragraphs the wealth of discussions and range of issues covered in the panels and small groups,CAWN’s co-Director Marilyn Thomson has prepared a brief report about some of the panels and activities that took place during this event.
We would also like to share with you the inspiring intervention made by Miriam Pixtún Monroy from La Puya, Guatemala, on the situation they have been facing for defending their land and the vital resource that is clean water.
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, will be in Honduras until August 27 as part of a tour to collect information on the situation for defenders in Central America. During the visit, Honduran civil society organizations will share reports and testimonies, and participate in regional and national consultations and other events to denounce the current human rights crisis and widespread impunity in the country.
“We view the visit of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to analyze the situation, share experiences at the national and regional levels, and make visible the high-risk conditions that women human rights defenders face in our country,” stated Daysi Flores, coordinator of JASS Honduras. Flores noted that women human rights defenders are targets of gender-specific threats and attacks, requiring protection mechanisms with a gender perspective, and more awareness about the risks and obstacles women face in defending human rights.
JASS, along with the Center for Justice and International Law and Protection International, will present their report entitled “Gender Focus in the Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders: Experiences of Mexico and Honduras”. The report concludes that both nations are failing at providing adequate protection for women human rights defenders.
The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders of Honduras—of which JASS is a member—has documented ten assassinations of Honduran women human rights defenders since 2012, most of them defenders of land and natural resources. The documentation indicates that in many cases Honduran government officials or security forces are directly involved in the crimes, and in others the state has lacked the will or the capacity to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The study also notes that since the last visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Defenders to Honduras in 2012 the Honduran government has failed to fully implement the recommendations for the recognition and protection of women human rights defenders, and violence against them has increased. Although the recently approved Law for the Protection of Defenders, Journalists and Members of the Judicial Branch contributes to the legal framework for carrying out human rights defense, it fails to incorporate a gender perspective or effective mechanisms for compliance. This makes it unlikely that it will reduce the growing violence against defenders.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders was established in 2000 to support implementation of the 1998 Declaration on human rights defenders. This visit to Honduras comes at a critical moment for the country, since the assassination of the prominent human rights defender Berta Cáceres on March 2 and the wave of attacks throughout the country. It opens up the possibility of analyzing the crisis and its causes and strategizing effective ways for protecting and preventing violence against women defenders.
CONTACT: Daysi Flores
TELEPHONE: 504-22214912, 504-33097223
7 July, 2016
Last week, Nicaraguan workers suffered the most recent attack on their rights during the storming by riot police of the Korean-owned Sae A Tecnotex SA, a factory situated in the free-trade zone of Tipitapa in Nicaragua.
Workers in the factory had been peacefully campaigning for improved working conditions, such as access to drinking water, more realistic production targets and the reinstatement of two unionised workers, but these demands were met with intimidation and violence by riot police on 27 June called in by the management. As a result of this brutality, many workers were injured and 11 were put behind bars as a ‘preventive measure’. Some of those detained were not even workers of Sae A Tecnotex SA but people who happened to be on the premises at the time – including a pregnant worker and a worker with heart problems, from other companies. The workers were kept in preventive imprisonment for 5 days and only released on 2 July.
17 March, 2016
|Ivania Calderón Peralta is a small producer of the ‘Organic Café’ in Northern Nicaragua. Single parent of 5 children, fighter and worker, partner of the ‘Providencia’ Cooperative and board associate of the cooperative CECOCAFEN.
CECOCAFEN is an organisation that encompasses smaller cooperatives from the North of Nicaragua, and which currently covers around 2450 small producers. Around 22% of them are women producers.
Ivania’s mission is to commercialise coffee of her partners. At CECOCAFEN she performs the role of coordinator of the Board of Oversight. Her visit to London marks the 30th anniversary of the twinning between the communities of Matagalpa and Lewisham.
On the afternoon of the 4th March, two CAWN members had the chance to meet and interview Ivania in the Lewisham Civic Suite.
CAWN: We would love to know, how did your career in coffee begin?
IVANIA: I initially joined the cooperative as a coffee producer. At the time I didn’t know much about cooperatives but I soon realised there were many dedicated coffee producers in the organisation. I became increasingly involved with the cooperative and after seeing the benefits made available to producers, of course I did not want to miss out! (laughs) From then on I began to dedicate more time to my farm. Read the rest of this entry »
17 March, 2016
The mosquito borne Zika virus has become a primary concern for Latin America, reigniting debates around birth control and abortion in the region, and around to what extent government’s recommended methods of prevention, mainly addressed to women, meet the reality of women’s control.
Following the first local transmission of Zika in Brazil in May 2015, the virus has spread to more than 20 countries in the Americas, causing the World Health Organisation to declare a global public health emergency. The Zika virus has been linked to a steep increase in reports of microcephaly, a brain defect in babies.
Evidence of the virus is clear in Central America, where the first local transmission was reported in November 2015. The countries thought to be affected in Central America are: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a ‘Level 2’ Alert for these countries, suggesting they practise enhanced precautions.
3 March 2016
The Central America Women’s Network condemns the assassination Berta Cáceres, a Lenca woman and leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH). Berta Cáceres was awarded last year’s Goldman Environmental Prize. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said ” in a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam”. She led the resistance against the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project in Río Blanco, funded by the World Bank and the Dutch government, because of potential environmental damage and the negative impact that this would have had for the community.
Berta Cáceres had experienced constant harassment since the foundation of COPIHN in 1993, and this only grew worse after the 2009 coup d’état. These included death threats from the Honduran National Police and judicial harassment.
Last night, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in La Esperanza, Intibuca, after two individuals broke down the door, shot her and killed her. This is an enormous loss for civil society in Honduras and in the region.
Criminalisation of activists and journalists in Honduras is widespread, and numerous national and international organisations have denounced the difficulties and danger that means to be an activist in Honduras. According to Global Witness, between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country.
Berta Cáceres was a great woman, and her loss fills us with sadness. Those responsible of this must meet justice; the Honduran government cannot look away and contribute to this witch-hunt anymore.
Our solidarity goes to Bertha’s family and friends, and to all members of COPINH.
We will be posting up other responses and actions to protest against these violations of human rights:
We leave you with an interview of Berta Cáceres by the Observatorio de Mujeres, from 2013 (in Spanish)
16 February 2016
After Sandra Ramos’ speaker tour in London on November 2015, CAWN is pleased to announce that the Movement of Employed and Unemployed Women Maria Elena Cuadra (MEC) is to receive funding for a new project aimed at promoting the Health and Safety of Women Workers in Nicaragua’s Free Trade Zones. Read the rest of this entry »
CAWN is actively supporting the Las 17 y más campaign which demands the freedom of women wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment following miscarriages or obstetric complications in El Salvador.
12 November 2015
Sandra Ramos, the director of MEC, the Maria Elena Cuadra Women’s Movement of employed and unemployed women in Nicaragua visited London and during her 10 day stay was kept very busy. Among the pubic events organised, she gave a talk to LSE students who are members of the Central America Society and the Gender Institute whose interests vary from economics, politics and gender issues. Read the rest of this entry »