Hivos is proud to announce that the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras) has received the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.
IM-Defensoras is a network of some 350 women’s rights initiatives founded in April 2010 by Just Associates (JASS, Mesoamerica and global) and a number of other organisations* and women activists who risk their lives to protect and strengthen human rights in Mexico and Central America. Hivos is an active supporter of some of the founding members and congratulates the initiative on this prestigious sign of recognition.
Women human rights defenders face fierce opposition from many governments and often lack a supportive family and / or community base for the work they undertake. This means that they and their work often remain uncelebrated and that the impact of their work on their physical and mental wellbeing is denied.
IM-Defensoras stands by these women human rights defenders, providing shelters for those who face threats, helping women to flee if they are in physical danger, and supporting those who have been charged with crimes. The network shares data and resources to improve the women’s security and to make sure their stories are heard. JASS Director Lisa VeneKlasen said, “this award recognises the often invisible contributions and leadership of women in the advancement of human rights.”
The groups that form part of the IM-Defensoras network cover issues as varied as protecting local communities against corporate nickel mining in Guatemala and defending women who are jailed for having abortions in El Salvador. From 2010 to 2012, JASS and its partners documented 414 attacks on Mexican and Central American women activists in which 38 women were killed. “Winning this award after four years of arduous work makes us proud,” says Lydia Alpazar (AWID).
The Letelier-Moffitt Award is handed out every year in memory of the Institute for Policy Studies human rights defenders Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt. It celebrates new heroes of the human rights movement from the United States and the Americas. The Institute for Policy Studies is a progressive multi-issue thinktank linking peace, justice and the environment in the U.S. and globally. The Institute has served as a policy and research resource for the visionary social justice movement for over four decades. One of its founding principles is not to accept any government funding in order to maintain impartiality in its research.
* The Oaxaca Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity (Mexico), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), the Guatemalan Unit Protecting Men and Women Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA, Guatemala), the Feminist Collective for Local Development (El Salvador) and the Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM).