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Ordinary women doing extraordinary things

During the past 4 years I have seen my country fall into an unnecessary war that paradoxically seems to seek the end of violence through the use of more violence. Insecurity in Mexico is an issue that has been recently hogging the headlines of national and international newspapers, mainly by the increasing cruelty of the crimes committed. They talk about the number of deaths, the drugs seized, the trafficked weapons, the dirty cops, among other things, but what the headlines don’t talk about, or very little, are the stories about the human and social drama that women and girls of this country are going through. They seem to forget that we also result affected by armed conflicts and in very different ways than men do, most of all because of the gender inequalities and the type of attacks we are subjected to.

During these years, our freedoms have been reduced in every way, and our bodies are back to being war trophies. In such a hostile environment, being an agent of change or a human rights defender is really a task that can often mean signing your death sentence, as was the case of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz and other brave women before her, who have been viciously murdered for daring to speak out for their daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends missing and murdered. For me this kind of fear and intimidation are the main barriers that prevent many women in my country from taking the streets to demand justice for the abuses and crimes committed before and during this war. Yet there are examples of ordinary women doing extraordinary things for peace in Mexico, such as the network of Peaceful Alternatives (in which I collaborate), or the association May Our Daughters Return Home, Justice For Our Daughters, and many others. They, we, have managed to transform our pain and fear into courage, and I'm proud to know that they are Mexican women like me, seeking solutions to the challenges our country is facing nowadays.

Other ways in which this and other barriers can be eliminated is precisely through communities like Pulse Wire, which allow you to exchange action alerts, resources and solutions with other women around the world. The support of the international community is necessary especially in countries like mine where the voice of women is constantly silenced. We need to understand that Peace is an endless process on which depends the future of our families.

We will not be overcome by fear: If they touch one, they touch all of us.

Comments

MaDube's picture

Great post. I identify with

Great post. I identify with all your challenges. Fear + intimidation = silence. And when you speak incessantly you start sounding like a chatter box and if you get into trouble people will say you looked for it. What to do? Keep talking Kat, just keep talking. Someone down the line will listen and change shall surely come.

katyrdz's picture

You got exactly my point! It

You got exactly my point! It is very hard to fight against injustice when you don't have the support of the community because violence is seen as such a normal thing, we interiorize it and even justify it. We need to wake up from this horrible nightmare!

Breese's picture

The courage you and your

The courage you and your fellow women demonstrate through your work is amazing. Mexico, and the world, needs more brave women like you!

katyrdz's picture

Thank you Breese, we

Thank you Breese, we appreciate very much all the kind support we get from other women!! You are our strongest allies :)

Akech's picture

I enjoy reading your posts

I enjoy reading your posts because you have extraordinary practical views. Keep up the great work!

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

katyrdz's picture

Thanks Akech! You are right,

Thanks Akech! You are right, like one of my favourite songs says: "smallest oceans still gets, big big waves".

Celine's picture

Good Writing

I enjoy your post. You rightly put it that war affect women differently from men, yet media reporting in war situations are often silent about the abuses and hurdles women face. I am gad to know that women are participating in the peace processes. Yes, ordinary women can do extra-ordinary things because they had the experience in their own ways.
I am proud of you and the other women who can live above fear and intimidation to demand for justice.

May you be protected all the way!

Celine.

katyrdz's picture

Thanks for your kind words,

Thanks for your kind words, Celine! Women need to be involved in peace negotiations, first of all because it is our legitimate right, but also because we bring into the table issues such as health, education, work opportunities and so on, that sometimes are not taken into account when stablishing peace treaties.

katyrdz's picture

Sorry!

I posted twice the same comment. Sorry!

usha kc's picture

Katy, very good articl ,

Katy, very good article , thank you for sharing dear. you are the sample of courageous..

Yenly Thach's picture

We are neighbor!

Katy, I live in San Diego, CA. You are right, I would always hear about drug trafficking and corrupted cops, but I don't often hear about the victims; women and children. I don't often hear how is this impacting their lives or what happen to them in the middle of conflicts. I think is so brave of you for taking the next step to do something about it, even if it means to put your life in great danger. Continues to share your stories and other women in your home country so we can get new perspective from the innocent voices! Thank you so much for sharing,

Yenly Thach

katyrdz's picture

Thanks Yenly! We as women

Thanks Yenly! We as women living on the other side of the border appreciate your support!! It's always nice to know american sisters have our back. I hope we can continue working together in bringing peace to our countries. Take care!

faridaY's picture

It's great to hear how women

It's great to hear how women in Mexico are using the internet to speak out and to support each other in the face of violence intimidation. So many stories that would go unreported except fo rthe courage of these women. Your words really brought that point home.

katyrdz's picture

Thanks Farida, I hope we can

Thanks Farida, I hope we can continue to communicate and get these stories to other women! We need to exchange solutions.

zoneziwoh's picture

woa woa!!! this is powerful.

woa woa!!! this is powerful. Using Violence to resolve Violence. what an unlogical approach used by most states. It is unbeliveable to know that our leaders quest for power has made them become inhamane. This is unbelieveable. Just like what MaDube said, Fear + Intimidation results to silence. and which is non-developmental and non-progressive for somebody who envisions change.

I am pleased to know that in spite of all the intimidation, women like you , together with other organisations are bend to bring about social justice. which is very lovely. please Keep up the good work. I admire your courage - oh my god! i can imagine the pains involve to be unjustly treated for speaking the truth. it is so painful and those people who have scarificed (and lost ) their lives so that we can enjoy human freedom and priviledge - and though there has not been any total attainment of those wishes, still we shouldnt betray their sacrifice. thus we need to continue in the fight and keep their dream alive

thanks for sharing this story with your sisters. you are a heroine. keep up

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter & Instagram: @ZoFem

katyrdz's picture

Thanks as always zoneziwoh

Thanks as always zoneziwoh for your kind words. I loved what you said about not betraying the sacrifice of the other women that have come before us, you are totally right, we need to make their sacrifies worth something and keep fighting! Thanks and kisses!

leny's picture

You speak to my heart

Dear katy,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I agree with Celine, on the point you raised that women suffer differently in war than men. I am from Yemen, and currently our country is in turmoil and only god knows where it is going. for the last nine months since the start of the peaceful protest calling for the step down of the currently ruling system which has lasted for 33 years. Women have lost their loved ones, lost their jobs, homes and the economic situation is deteriorating to the point that nearly 7.5 million families are living below poverty line. In addition as Yemen is a conservative Muslim country, the conflict brought more pressure on women's movement so even those of us that still have jobs it is difficult to drive or take a taxi because women have become more exposed to harassment, as from the point of conflicting parties: no respectable women should be in the street in such a time. This resulted in more and more women losing their jobs and not being able to feed their families.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts
Lina

LARYANI

katyrdz's picture

Thank you Lina, I can only

Thank you Lina, I can only image what it is to be living in such a situation. Finding peaceful resolutions to armed conflicts I think is one, and has always been, of the biggest challenges in the women's movements worldwide. We need to stand together and not let our rights be cut back again. You should check out the movement Women In Black, which is a women's anti-war movement with an estimated 10,000 activists around the world. Or also the Coalition of Women for Peace

Here you can find some more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Black

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_of_Women_for_a_Just_Peace

Thanks for sharing with me!

sueli sueishi's picture

Great article

Katy,

very good your article... When reading about the violence and corruption in Brazil, sometimes, I feel hopeless... but, like you, there are people out there trying to chance this reality of violence little by little...

Just read that the mexican journalist María Elizabeth Macías was murdered for denouncing traffic criminals using the social network... Hopefully this not going to discourage people from speaking out and fighting for peace!

Sueli

katyrdz's picture

Journalist

Hi Sueli. Thanks for sharing, you are right, these past 2 or 3 years have been very complicated for journalists in Mexico, women and men alike, because of the armed conflict. We are actually right now the most dangerous country in all of America (North, Central and South) to be a journalist, we have the biggest number of murders of this kind. It's really sad that we are losing our freedom of speech all because of a useless war.

fem4femmes's picture

Peace and pride...

Thank you for speaking to the enormous burden that women in conflict face. Not only are they the most greatly affected but they will be the one's to bring peace. I am so proud of your courage and your voice! Thank you for using both for defending and protecting Mexican women and their children!

Standing in unity and light with you today,

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

katyrdz's picture

Thanks!

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words!

RosemaryC's picture

The power of women

Dear katyrdz:

I do so wish I was like you and could speak 5 languages so that I could read the content of those websites you linked us to. It is so wonderful to know that in Mexico, in the face of such violence, women are standing together and supporting each other to work peacefully. I salute your courage and your commitment!
Your post reminded me of the power of women together. There is a group called Women in Black that organizes women to protest peacefully against injustice and violence - see www.womeninblack.org
I don't know its history but I think possibly this group may have been inspired by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who gathered for years to call for the return of their disappeared children in Argentina.
One thing I learned during my university course on human security and peacebuilding was about the power of an individual story. Our class worked in small groups, and one day, our assignment was to talk about the situation of women in Colombia. Our small group, which happened to be all women, looked for the stories of individual women and we did our presentation as a dialogue using their words. It was much more powerful than speaking facts, although we included facts as well, and some people in the class were wiping their eyes after the presentation was finished. I think that is the power of women's stories and words.
I would be so happy to hear some of the stories of the women you are working with, and more about the social entrepreneurship program, Pase Usted, that you are working with. What are you learning from this about what works most effectively for women in terms of social entrepreneurship?
Your writing is very powerful - I hope to read more and more of your stories. And thank you for those wonderful words with which you ended your story.
Kindest regards,
Rosemary

katyrdz's picture

Encouraging words

Thanks Rosemary. I'm so happy to be living this experiencie in World Pulse because it has opened my vision to new realities. I do know the Women in Black group, actually I was talking about them before in another comment someone posted me. The first group of them was formed by Israely women in 1988, responding to what they considered serious violations of human rights by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories. Now as you know is a global movement of women against war and for peace.

It's very interesting to hear the experiencie you had with your class, I think is a very good excersice we could reproduce here with some of the women we work with!! Thanks for sharing that. We need to share more stories of success definitely, I don't like when women are portrayed as victims instead of courageous fighters which we are!

The work I'm doing right now with Pase Usted is not with women specifically, we do have some women but they are in mixed groups with other men, which is also interesting. I would love to talk about that experience. Somewhere in the future I will definitely write something about that.

Thanks again for your encouraging words!! I really appreciate all your comments, and please keep giving me feedback on my pieces!!

Katy

RosemaryC's picture

Women in Black

Thanks, Katy, for sharing the origin of Women in Black. I didn't know that it was begun in Israel. It is nice to know the story behind an organization.

I will look forward to when you write more about your work with Pasa Usted :)

Best regards,
Rosemary

AyeshaM's picture

insight & inspiration

Warm greetings dear Katy!

Thank you both for the powerful insight into the daily lives of women and girls in Mexico and for the inspiring reminder of how we are all linked together no matter where we live on the globe:

"If they touch one, they touch all of us"

Peace,
Ayesha

---

"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."

- Mevlana Jalal-ad-Din Rumi

katyrdz's picture

Thanks Ayesha! We should

Thanks Ayesha! We should never lose sight that we are all connected. Best wishes! Katy

atwahirwa's picture

eliminating barriers

Many thanks Katy for sharing this ..Your story captures the essence of what you want to say about the failure of media outlets to tackle with the issue of violence against women and girls in Mexico... the use of active social networks communities such as Pulse Wire appears to be one of the solutions for women in coming together to deal with change while eliminating all barriers...... Thank you again for your excellent writing.

AIMABLE TWAHIRWA

News From A Broad's picture

Women in Mexico

Katy,
You have made so many important comments that I don't know where to begin. The media in the US is more focused on the drug issues between our borders than on how women and girls' lives are being impacted. One of the groups I worked with, when I lived in the US, were Hispanic teen mothers. Until recent years, they and their families would cross the border to visit families primarily from the cities of Monterrey, Guanajuato, and Veracruz, during holidays. Now, they are too frighten to make the drive, depriving them of important family connections. Of course that is not the only restriction. There are two other situations that arise in these girls lives with multiple implications. Last year, before moving to Yucatan, I was asked to work with a group of girls aged 8-10. Three of these nine girls had been raped by illegal residents that were living with their families while they worked. Two of the girls became pregnant, and of course by the time they and their families were aware, the perpetrator was back in Mexico. If the families are living in the US illegally, they are afraid to seek help. If it weren't for the counselors in their schools, these girls would have no voice and no one to support them. The war against women and girls is universal and thus global. Resident status is just a small piece in the issues on violence against women. Now that I am residing in Yucatan, surrounded by a growing expatriate community, I am hearing stories from women from the US and Canada, women who have been separated from their support systems, and more financially dependent on their partners, creating the great risk for domestic violence - now in a country not their own. It is two sides of the same coin. Are women ever safe? The only other thing I would add, is that I as I am no longer surrounded by professionals in the field, being exposed to other cultures, I realize that many women, including ones from the US and Canada, blame a woman when she is victimized. Education is a never ending process.
So very glad to have found WP and your journal,
Benne'

Benné Rockett

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