Mexico, Honduras & Guatemala – From Survivors to Defenders, Women Confronting Violence

Monday, March 11, 2013
Nobel Women's Initiative
Central America

Please click here to access the report.

In this report, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchú Tum write that the levels of violence against women in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have reached crisis dimensions. They describe their work leading a women's rights fact-finding delegation that travelled to these countries in January 2012 to investigate the crisis. This investigation found many consistencies among women's stories across the three nations (for example regarding sexual violence or forced disappearances), and noted inadequate government responses to these crimes – the vast majority of cases are never even investigated.

The delegation was organised by the Nobel Women's Initiative, JASS (Just Associates) and prominent national organisations that formed host committees in each country. Over the course of ten days, the delegation gathered evidence of the impact of escalating violence in the region on women and women's rights, assessed the role and response of governments, and evaluated ways of supporting women who are organising to protect themselves and their communities. They gathered evidence and heard testimonies from over 200 women survivors of violence and human rights defenders from organisations working against violence, and also met with a number of government officials and representatives of international organisations.

The delegation concluded that the international community must urgently respond to the growing crisis of violence against women in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. They find the problem to have many causes, including increasingly militarised and patriarchal societies and current security policies supported by the US and Canadian governments, as well as the lack of justice and economic pressures in the region.
The report includes a variety of recommendations including the following:

– Pressure should be placed on the governments of the U.S. and Canada, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala to ensure that they: uphold their responsibility to prevent violence and human rights violations; develop gender-sensitive mechanisms for protecting women human rights defenders; investigate complaints of human rights violations against women and women human rights defenders using established protocols for dealing with gender-specific violations; prosecute violations; and compensate survivors.
– Violence against women and against women activists/human rights defenders, including the targeting of women human rights defenders should be publicly denounced and legal action demanded by diplomats, media and members of the international community.

Support for this women's rights fact-finding mission was provided by a number of individuals as well as the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN Women – Latin American and Caribbean Section, and the MDG3 Fund and Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women (FLOW) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.