GFW's Americas Program Officer's Firsthand Account from Central America

Erika Guevara Rosas, GFW Program Director for the Americas, is currently in Panama City, Panama attending the first Regional Feminist Leadership School: Sea of Change.  She is writing back to the Global Fund with firsthand information about how women are affecting change in Honduras and all over Central America.  Here is one of her correspondences with our office in San Francisco.

"Next Saturday, after the Sea of Change School, we will organize a meeting with grantees and advisors to discuss the particular situation in Central America and to explore collaborative initiatives to strengthen the women’s movements and their political action. We will focus part of our discussion to the current political situation in Honduras. We know that what happens in Honduras will have an impact on the way women organize themselves to resist and challenge patriarchy and militarism.

Politics in the Latin American and Caribbean region are not “white and black”, the other side of the story is always the one told by women. For instance, in Honduras women and feminists are currently mobilizing against the military intervention, the use of violence against civilians and the violation of democracy and rule of law as a consequence of the coup. These are the same women’s rights groups that have been critical to the government of Manuel Zelaya since the beginning of his administration, and they were mobilizing against his intention to stay in power. However, women’s organizations and feminists know that the military intervention and the coup itself are not democratic solutions and will cause long-term instability and violence. In the context of a polarized region, women are being marginalized from any formal “dialogue” or public debate to negotiate “solutions” to the political problems of the region. Women’s political actions, including demonstrations and initiatives to promote democracy and equality, are being criminalized and penalized by both “left wing” and conservative governments. During the meeting, we will discuss strategies to overcome these challenges, as well as Global Fund’s role to support and give visibility to women’s rights groups’ collective actions.

Being part of the first Regional Feminist Leadership School: Sea of Change, which started yesterday with the theme “Patriarchal Powers/Feminist Transgressions,” has been a privilege. This comprehensive feminist political capacity-building program is part of a long-term initiative developed by GFW partner Las Petateras, a Mesoamerican feminist coalition of women’s organizations and individuals, including different GFW grantees in the region such as FIRE in Costa Rica, UNAMG and La Cuerda in Guatemala, Centro de Derechos de Mujeres in Honduras, Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad, and Milenio Feminista in Mexico, and Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres in Nicaragua, among others; as well as GFW advisors Maria Suarez, Alda Facio and Marusia Lopez. The Petateras have created this feminist leadership school to strengthen women’s political skills and strategies through individual and collective participatory learning and action grounded in feminist theory and human rights.

The regional feminist school will be affiliated to different universities in Central America and will be open to women representing different movements and sectors. This first 7-day workshop has been hosted by University of Panama and brings together 30 feminist from across the region. The purpose of this first seminar is the development of the curriculum content of the school. We have been invited to contribute with our feminist philanthropy knowledge and vision. During the seminar, we will also discuss the socio-political and economic context in the region and the different feminist strategies of resistance and “transgression.” Our advisor Alda Facio describes the goal of the school as “the creation of a ‘butterfly effect’ which will eventually cause the demise of patriarchy in the region […], the smallest action in one place, for instance this seminar, can have an immense effect somewhere else, the Mesoamerican region and beyond.”

Warmly, Erika


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