On 8th March 2013, International Women’s Day, thousands of women in Latin America took to the streets to protest against the continuing violation of women’s rights (as is evident in the excellent photo gallery mentioned below).
For the past century the 8th of March has been a day to celebrate women’s achievements and in 1975 the United Nations declared it an international day to pay tribute to women who have struggled to defend their rights. It is day for women to celebrate but it is also an opportunity to focus attention on the continuation of gender discrimination and inequality.

In spite of gains for women’s equality in Latin America, such as increased access to education, more women in positions of power and some progressive legislation, women continue to face serious problems.  Widespread gender discrimination persists, women are denied reproductive rights, and violence against women and girls continues unabated throughout the continent. There is an alarming escalation of femicides, the brutal killing of women because of their gender, in spite of legislation and commitments made by governments to end violence against women, and very worryingly almost always the perpetrators go unpunished.

In this special newsletter, a collaboration between the Central America Women’s Network (CAWN) and LAB, CAWN reports on the current situation in MexicoEl Salvador, and Guatemala, where governments are responding in different ways to tackle extremely high levels of femicide.  These articles are based on reports from and interviews with women’s organisations in the region working to end violence against women. In addition, CAWN have put together a wonderful photo essay illustrating the many and varied International Women’s Day demonstrations that took place across the region. Read More. CAWN would like to thank Gloria Santos, Virginia Delavalle and Maisie Davies for their invaluable research support for these articles.

In addition to original contributions from CAWN, LAB’s Tian Spain complements CAWN’s content with her report on the critical situation in the Dominican Republic. Read More. There is also an English translation of her hard hitting interview with the organisation Colectiva Mujer y Salud. Read More.  Complementing CAWN’s anlysis of violence in El Salvador, Kari Mariska Pries reports on the truce in El Salvador and the tentative hopes it holds for the future. Read more.

Although this special issue of our newsletter focuses on Central America, women throughout the region are often at the forefront of the struggles to fight for their rights and those of their communities. In Brazil, Giovanni Grandoni reports on the spread of commercial farming and mining in the north and north-east and how it is threatening the livelihoods of the (female) babaçu (a type of nut) breakers, long renowned for their fearlessness and their strong community spirit. Read More.
 
Solidarity with Women in Central America
 
The Central America Women’s Network (CAWN) was born in 1991 out of a growing solidarity movement in the UK in the late 1970s and 1980s in response to revolution, civil wars and escalating human rights abuses in the region. CAWN was founded by women in the UK keen to network with, learn from, and support women’s organisations in Central America. We celebrate our 21 years of solidarity with women in Central America.

Since our foundation, CAWN has supported women’s organisations in the region through advocacy work, political lobbying, holding conferences and events – often with inspirational women speakers from Central America –  and producing research reports and information to continually raise awareness of on- going women’s struggles.

We work with the Honduran Women’s Collective (CODEMUH) and the Centre for Women’s Studies in Honduras (CEMH); in Nicaragua with the Movement of Unemployed and Worker Women Maria Elena Cuadra  (MEC) andGrupo Venancia; with the National Union of Women in Guatemala, and in El Salvador with the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Eugenic, Ethic and Therapeutic Abortion.

One of CAWN’s major areas of work has been violence against women. In the last couple of decades the situation has not improved for women, and indeed, their experiences may be even worse than when CAWN was founded. Alarming statistics reveal the extreme levels violence and atrocities of femicide committed against women in the region. What has changed is that more women are fighting back, as women have created support groups, gathered research and evidence and taken their cases to court, pushing the issue of violence against women up the political agenda.

CAWN’s work ranges from supporting women’s reproductive rights and the decriminalisation of abortion and denouncing the root causes of trafficking and exploitation of women, to advocating for fair trade and addressing gender inequality and supporting women’s empowerment through economic literacy. For more detailed information about CAWN’s current activities see the latest Activity Report and visit our blog.

In Other News
In her blog, LAB’s Nayana Fernandez uses video, image and words to reports on an urban indigenous village struggling to save an historic building, located minutes for the Maracana stadium. Less than a month after Nayana’s visit to the Aldeia, Rio’s government have violently evicted them. Nayana will update her blog in the next few days, in the meantime, see here for further details.

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