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JASS Movements Newsletter

March 2012

Caution: Women Crossing the Line

Dear Friends,

International Women’s Day is a moment to honor and celebrate women’s movements and all the courageous women, past and present, who have fought, resisted and reshaped the world to be a better place for all of us. Today, as the rollback of women’s basic rights is in full swing from Egypt to Honduras, the fight for equality and justice is no less urgent and no less dangerous. At JASS, we dedicate this newsletter to all the bold women activists who are mobilizing for change and at great personal risk. As the stories below highlight, it is women’s willingness to cross the line against corruption, impunity, greed and inequality that keeps our hopes for a better future alive. The visibility and recognition of the contributions of feminists, women’s movements, and women’s rights defenders from all walks of life should be celebrated and recognized 365 days a year. Sustaining and making their work safer is at the top of the JASS agenda for 2012.

Peace,

Lisa VeneKlasen, on behalf of the JASS team.

Anti-Femicide Activist in Honduras

Mesoamerica: Delegation Spotlights Crisis Levels of Violence Against Women

"The war on drugs and increased militarization in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala is becoming a war on women,” said Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jody Williams, during a high level women’s fact-finding mission in January co-coordinated by JASS and the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Building on JASS Mesoamerica’s work with diverse women human rights defenders, the trip drew attention to the surge of violence against women and the brave strategies they are employing to demand rights and justice. The delegation from Canada and the US spent 10 days hearing testimonies from over 200 women defenders in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, who gave direct accounts of murder, rape, detentions and forced disappearances.

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Delegation Against VAW in Mexico

Southern Africa: LGBT Activists Push Back in the Face of Backlash

Gay rights activists march in Soweto, South Africa /Rueters
photo credit: Reuters

“Are you homosexual?” was the question Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity asked minutes before he disbanded a young LGBT activist leadership workshop in Kampala. JASS’ Hope Chigudu, who was there supporting a workshop of young activists, says, “Fear and rage. I’ve never felt such fear and rage as I did when Lokodo invaded our space at that workshop. Then I looked at him and said, “As an elder, and minister, we are training them in leadership and that’s what the country wants. How can you as a church person, as a leader of people yourself appear so angry and without compassion.” This is just one instance in a wave of intense homophobia sweeping the continent.

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Southeast Asia: Quotas Alone Are Not Enough

One Fight, One Voice - JASS Southeast Asia

As many Southeast Asian countries gear up for elections in 2012, governments and development organizations have turned to quotas to expand women’s political participation and representation. Though important, more women in legislatures doesn’t necessarily translate into improvements in women’s rights and livelihoods, particularly those of marginalized women. That is why JASS women from across the region are organizing young, indigenous, LBT and grassroots women activists to challenge and engage with the power structures that limit their participation – demanding that all leaders hear their agendas.

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