Indigenous Ixil Women Take a Stand Against Gender-Based Violence in Guatemala

A Mayan ceremony celebrating the launch of the “Less Violence, More Inclusion” observation effort in Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala, to reduce election violence and illegal campaign activity leading up to the Sept. 6 presidential election.

Spanish Ixil 

The Network of Ixiles Women is based in Nebaj, which is located in a remote valley in the Ixil area of the department of Quiché, Guatemala -- a region that is predominately Maya-Ixil. The organization was one of 13 local groups that partnered with Citizen Action (AC) to observe electoral violence and campaign spending across 20 municipalities. We recently spoke with the organization’s coordinator, Juana Baca, as well as two observers, Paula Ramírez and Andrés Saquic, about their experience participating in the “More Inclusion, Less Violence” electoral observation network.

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Not Just Observation, Guatemala Election Monitoring Opens Doors to Dialogue and Civic Education

Milvia Roxana Lopez (third from left) speaks during a training for citizen election observers in Guatemala. “Self-confidence was key,” she said, referring to her ability to break through gender-based stereotypes as an election observer documenting incidents of violence and educating voters during last year’s historic elections.

Español Mam 

At 25 years old, Milvia Roxana López, an indigenous woman, may be diminutive in size but she exudes a confidence that demands she be heard. As an observer who monitored electoral violence, Milvia met with leaders from her town and surrounding communities to document acts of electoral violence -- not an easy topic to broach in country that has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. “For me, self-confidence was key,” declared Milvia, referring to her role as an election observer. “To many people, it’s not the same when a woman says something as when a man says something. I don’t know where I got the strength, but I did it.”

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Global Women's Leadership Program Brings Women MPs to World Bank 2016 Fragility Forum

After the delegates' closing remarks at the 2016 Fragility Forum, from left to right: Stella Ngwu (Nigeria), Aissata Toure Diallo (Mali), Besa Rizvanolli (NDI), Clara Rojas (Colombia), Sabina Dario Lokolong (South Sudan), Dr. Sultana Mismari (Libya)

In fragile and violent places, whether it is Colombia, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, or South Sudan, the role of women during crisis, war, and post-conflict reconstruction has been critical. Conflicts often force women to get organized and to safeguard the basic necessities that bolster day-to-day life in each family. They also participate in fighting wars, and in rebuilding their communities. Women act as peacekeepers, relief workers, and mediators. Yet, when peace talks occur, women are not invited to the table and peace agreements are often drafted without the critical perspectives of women.

With this reality in mind, under USAID’s Global Women’s Leadership Program (GWLP), NDI brought a delegation of women members of parliament (MPs) to the World Bank Group Fragility Conflict and Violence Forum 2016 (also referred to as the Fragility Forum) in Washington, DC in early March.

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“Moving Forward More Strongly Towards Freedom:” What #NotTheCost is Really About

Mona Lena Krook, #NotTheCost technical advisor, greets Dr. Ave Maria Semakafu (Sextortion Coalition, Tanzania) and Susana Villaran (Former Mayor of Lima, Peru, current vice presidential candidate). Photo credit: Nikhil Shah.

At 5:45 in the morning, there isn’t much that I think about apart from coffee. But at 5:45 AM on March 17th, 2016 in New York City, I - along with NDI colleagues from the Gender, Women & Democracy (GWD), Operations, Communications & Development teams - was getting ready to run lighting cues, set-up registration and prep our volunteers for the #NotTheCost launch event. But then March 17th happened, and after all the planning, after all the last-minute arrangements -- including exciting additions to the program such as women’s activist and wife of the Canadian Prime Minister Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau -- I finally got to see this thing come to life. I watched people I’d only ever read about discuss this topic. I heard Madeleine Albright speak, and I listened as women representing countries as diverse as Kosovo, Cote D’Ivoire, Indonesia and Peru shared profoundly personal stories of violence they had experienced as women because they dared to be political activists, elected officials or candidates. I walked away from the event completely floored by what what I had just witnessed.

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Three ways to celebrate International Women’s Day

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today and the progress that women around the world have made, we must also commit to efforts that will overcome the significant obstacles that still stand in their way. This year, the National Democratic Institute is launching a campaign to stop violence against women in politics. Physical and psychological violence is real and has long-lasting consequences. Often women are told that such violence is “just the cost of politics.”

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Women Use Budgets to Promote Gender Equality in Eurasia

Armenian, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz women activists gathered to learn about holding governments accountable for the impact of laws and policies on women in particular.

This December, women activists from Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan came together for a four-day gender responsive budgeting (GRB) workshop sponsored by NDI to begin wrestling with this problem. More than 30 participants gathered in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to discuss the theory and practice of GRB, and to jointly develop GRB programs for implementation in their own countries.

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Global Women's Leadership Program Brings Women MPs to COP21

Members of the GWLP delegation of women parliamentarians to the COP21 Summit in Paris, from left to right:  Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, Uganda; Ake Camille Epse Akoun, Ivory Coast; Joséphine Drabo Kanyoulou, Burkina Faso; and Tayeba Zahidi, Afghanistan. Photo by Aretha Francis.

Under the Global Women's Ledership Program supported by USAID, NDI sent four women parliamentarians to the COP21 climate change summit in Paris.

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Interview: Flavia Freidenberg Discusses Strategies to Increase Women’s Political Participation

Flavia Freidenberg is a researcher and professor at the Institute of Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Leer en español. 

Andrea Fernandez, NDI resident program officer in Colombia, recently interviewed Flavia Freidenberg, researcher and professor at the Institute of Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Flavia answered a number of questions about strategies to increase women’s political participation in Latin America. Read highlights from their interview or watch a video of the full discussion.

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Transforming Thoughts: The Realities of the LGBTI Communities

The LGBTI communities in Guatemala uses art to increase tolerance, understanding and political participation.

In the captivating play “Transforming Thoughts: The Realities of the LGBTI Communities,” members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities showed the harsh realities of life as a transgender woman in Guatemala. Drawing on stories from their personal lives, and the broader LGBTI communities, the actors weave together scenes demonstrating lack of opportunity, abuse and survival. I

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Women’s Participation Will Build a Better Future for Lebanon

Members of the Women in Parliament coalition of Lebanon gather to discuss introducing a quota for women's representation into the election law.

Lebanese women have a long legacy of leadership in business, media, the arts and academics. Despite these contributions, and the fact that we make up half of the population, Lebanese women have been largely excluded from active participation in the country’s political life. NDI worked with the Women in Parliament coalition as it developed its strategy and messages to appeal to politicians, presenting evidence-based arguments for why women’s participation contributes to better governance. Now, the Women in Parliament coalition is convening MPs and civil society to discuss how to implement a gender quota in Lebanon's parliament.

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