MADRE empowering women across borders


MADREMADRE, our current Human Rights beneficiary, recently released their 2011 annual report, outlining an array of endeavors undertaken last year through which, alongside their partner organizations, they were able to reach out to upwards of 100,000 people in struggling regions.

A significant portion of their 2011 resources was devoted to Central America, particularly Guatemala, Haiti, and Nicaragua. March saw MADRE bring their project Farming for the Future to the indigenous Mayan women of Guatemala. The project trains women in farming, human rights, and civic participation—providing for them a source of food, income, and expanding their position in their local societies. MADRE’s empowerment efforts were carried out in Haiti primarily through their partnership with KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims), in response to the endemic sexual violence across the country’s many displacement camps. Distributing safety whistles and solar flashlights and bringing in sexual violence educators enhanced nighttime security in dangerous camps. And in Nicaragua, MADRE worked with Engineers Beyond Borders and the Liwa Mairin Women Waterkeepers to improve local access to clean water.

Across the Atlantic, in regions marred by sectarian violence and oppression, MADRE identified an outbreak of sexual assault amid pro-democracy protests in Iraq and the ever-present threat of tainted water in the Gaza Strip. They worked with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) to ensure that they were able to continue organizing both in spite of and to combat the sexual harassment by security forces on protesters. Working with local Palestinian groups, MADRE installed water filters around Gaza City, particularly near schools—giving hundreds of children access to clean drinking water during their school day. Both Iraq and Palestine are in a period of extraordinary transition, and as transition breeds tension, the freedoms of women and other oppressed peoples must be upheld and protected.

Finally, in the African theatre, MADRE worked to relieve famine in Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya, particularly through supporting the Women Farmers Union and local Kenyan organizations like Womankind Kenya to “identify trusted leaders to facilitate equitable food distribution and make sure that [existing] relief efforts protected the rights of women and girls.”

MADRE continues to support women worldwide into this year, and upcoming features will explore what they’re doing in the here and now. To learn more about MADRE and how you can support them directly, visit their website. And as always, consider supporting them through FBB!