Sunday, March 21, 2010

Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations

[image of organisation logo is from here]

What follows is from *here*.

Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations PDF Print E-mail
Urge U.S. Government to Put Women at the Center of Foreign Policy. Women Thrive Worldwide and UNIFEM Co-Host Second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast Event on Capitol Hill.
Press Release
March 4, 2010

Contact: Anu Palan at  202 884 8399 or 240 565 4078

Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations: Urge U.S. Government to Put Women at the Center of Foreign Policy Women Thrive Worldwide and UNIFEM Co-Host Second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast Event on Capitol Hill

Washington, DC – Women are key to rebuilding Afghanistan and Haiti and putting both nations on the path to secure and sustainable development, according to two prominent women leaders from those nations.  Suraya Pakzad, Director of Voice of Women in Herat, Afghanistan who was named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009, and Kathy Mangones, Haiti country program director for UNIFEM, the UN Women’s Fund, will issue a call on Capitol Hill for policymakers to put women front and center in two of the most high-profile U.S. and international assistance efforts underway in the developing world.

They will be joined by Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs at the State Department, and Congressional leaders including Senator Mary Landrieu(D-LA) at the second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast on Capitol Hill entitled Lessons from the Frontlines: Afghanistan, Haiti and the Path to a More Secure World.  The event, hosted by Women Thrive Worldwide and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will be held as women around the world mark the fifteenth anniversary of the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing, at which 189 nations pledged action towards greater equality and opportunity for women and where then-First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  famously said “human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights.”

“Whether in Afghanistan and Haiti or elsewhere in the world, women are the best investment to build stronger families and communities and more stable economies,” said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide  “But they are still the majority of the world’s poor.  As the U.S. reforms its foreign assistance programs, it is crucial that gender be a central pillar of our revamped foreign policy and assistance efforts.“

“This is a historic time. It is the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. We cannot continue to exclude one-half the population and still meet the challenge to build a more secure world,” said Inés Alberdi, Executive Director, UNIFEM. “We will not have security without human security and we will not have human security without sufficient—even equal—numbers of women at each and every decision making table.”

Recently, both the Obama Administration and Congress have taken strong steps toward toward reforming U.S. foreign assistance, with the launch of the Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on global development, and the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).  Both these processes provide an opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen its long-term commitment and capacity for integrating gender into its foreign policy and making assistance more effective.

According to a report by Women Thrive Worldwide, the Administration’s 2010 International Affairs Budget request, which will be debated in Congress soon, “gives unprecedented attention to the importance of women to U.S. foreign affairs.”  The past year has also seen the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues position at the State Department and a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee covering women’s issues.

Congress has also taken important steps towards reforming U.S. foreign assistance. Chairman Berman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has declared his intent to re-write the Foreign Assistance Act and introduced legislation earlier this Congress calling on the Obama Administration to develop a National Strategy for Global Development.Senators Kerry and Lugar have also introduced legislation that would strengthen accountability for U.S. government spending on foreign assistance.

Background on Women Thrive Worldwide
Women Thrive Worldwide is the leading non-profit organization shaping U.S. policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty.  Over the past twelve years, Women Thrive has brought together a diverse coalition of over 50 organizations and 40,000 individuals united in the belief that women are the key to ending global poverty. For more information visit:

Background on UNIFEM
UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations, dedicated to advancing women’s rights and achieving gender equality. Established in 1976, UNIFEM has touched the lives of women and girls around the world by focusing its activities on one overarching goal: supporting the implementation at the national level of existing international commitments to advance gender equality. For more information visit

Ensuring Haitian Women’s Participation and Leadership in All Stages of National Relief and Reconstruction

This photograph by Paula Allen is of Haitian Feminist Leader Myriam Merlet (1953-2010), who was killed by the Earthquake in January 2010.

[image is from here]

While I have posted on the loss of Haitian feminists in the recent past, I post this image of one feminist and information about them all and their work to remember once more these three women who perished in the aftermath of the earthquake. The earthquake was never solely a natural disaster, and remains, for women, very much a male domination-made disaster which is not at all natural. For more, see what follows next, from *here*. Following this article and the related links, please read "An Open Letter to Donors of the Haiti Reconstruction", which is from *here*. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

3 Haitian Women’s Rights Leaders Dead

Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of Haiti’s most important women and girl’s advocacy groups, are confirmed dead in the aftermath of the recent Haiti earthquake.

Myriam Merlet was until recently chief of staff of Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women and continued to serve as a top advisor. She was also one of the founders of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media, collects stories and works to honor their names.

Magalie Marcelin, also a lawyer and actress, established Kay Fanm, a women’s rights organization that deals with domestic violence, offers services and shelter to women and makes microcredits, or loans, available to women working in markets.

Anne Marie Coriolan served alongside Myriam Merlet as a top adviser to the women’s rights ministry. She founded Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), an advocacy and services organization.

In honor of these women and to continue the legacy of their work and advocacy groups, please visit the sites below that link to information on Enfofamn, Kay Fanm, and Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA). (Note: some page are in French but can be translated by Google if needed.)

Additional Links:
A document Haitian Women’s Rights Organisations worked on (available only in French):
Pour la cause des femmes, avançons!
Un modèle de plaidoyer dans la lutte des organisations de défense des droits des femmes haïtiennes

(Onward for Women! An Advocacy Model in the Struggle Waged by Haitian Women’s Rights Organisations)
More on Myriam Merlet:
The Guardian:
Women’s E-News:
Women’s Media Center:

An Open Letter to Donors of the Haiti Reconstruction

We are a coalition of women from diverse backgrounds working both on the ground in Haiti and within the international arena. As organizations committed to partnering with Haitian women to ensure their effective participation in rebuilding Haiti, we call upon donor governments to declare and adhere to internationally recognized standards of women’s human rights in forthcoming relief and reconstruction investments. Such a human-rights based approach is mandated by international law and crucial to rebuilding Haiti on a more sustainable, equitable and disaster-resilient foundation.

In recent weeks, Haitian government officials and global stakeholders representatives have worked to draft a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) to serve as a blueprint for Haiti’s reconstruction. Although the PDNA is comprised of eight themes: governance, productive sectors, social sectors, infrastructure sectors, territorial development, environment and disaster risk reduction, economic analysis and cross-cutting sector (including gender, youth, culture, social protection, etc), only one theme (cross-cutting sector) peripherally addresses gender.

Women’s full participation and leadership in all phases of the reconstruction of Haiti (as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and other internationally recognized standards) requires that a gender perspective be integrated into ongoing discussions and planning.

Women in Haiti are disproportionately impacted by the earthquake, both because they face gender discrimination, exposing them to higher rates of poverty and violence; and because they are responsible for meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, including infants, children, the elderly and the thousands of newly disabled people. Because disasters amplify existing social inequalities, a gender perspective is needed to avoid recovery policies that inadvertently reproduce discrimination against women. We respectfully remind donor governments of their obligation to ensure that policies are non-discriminatory in outcome as well as intent.

To overcome discrimination and to fulfill their roles as primary care-givers, Haitian women require and are legally entitled to a policy architecture that upholds the full range of their human rights, including social and economic rights. Women’s leadership and care-giving work should be recognized and supported by policy and program mandates and transparent resource commitments that enable women to play meaningful, sustained and formal roles in all stages of the relief and recovery process.

We applaud the actions of donor States to assist the people of Haiti in this time of crisis, and present the following principles to help guide governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders in providing for the protection and promotion of women’s human rights in the reconstruction plan for Haiti.

We respectfully remind donors that the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement call on governments to consult with Haitian women and ensure their participation in decisions that impact their lives. Effective consultations enable participants to actually influence outcomes and are anchored in formal partnerships with Haitian women’s groups (particularly local grassroots groups), who are empowered and resourced to take public leadership in the process of reconstruction.

The Donors' Conference must ensure Haitian women’s effective participation and leadership in all stages of the National Relief and Reconstruction Plan by implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement:

• Participation: Haitian women are disproportionately impacted by the crisis as well as key to their country’s recovery. Therefore a large and diverse number of Haitian women’s organizations must be consulted and included in needs and damage assessments, and in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all aid and reconstruction programs. Financing of women’s community-based organizations is essential to ensuring that women’s rights are upheld in forthcoming policies and that displaced women are recognized as a key stakeholder group.

Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Community

 [photograph is from here]

The image above and the text below may all be found here at the website for the documentary, Poto Mitan, which is also linked to on the far right of this blog.
“Everyone else has spoken for Haitian women, yet, we have a history of speaking for ourselves. I support Poto Mitan because it offers us a rare glimpse into how Haitian women in the struggle understand their complex conditions and what they are doing for themselves.”
-Gina Ulysse, Haitian-American scholar/activist/performer

letter told through compelling lives of five courageous Haitian women workers, Poto Mitan gives the global economy a human face. Each woman’s personal story explains neoliberal globalization, how it is gendered, and how it impacts Haiti: inhumane working/living conditions, violence, poverty, lack of education, and poor health care. While Poto Mitan offers in-depth understanding of Haiti, its focus on women’s subjugation, worker exploitation, poverty, and resistance demonstrates these are global struggles. Finally, through their collective activism, these women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible.

Marie-Jeanne details dual struggles as a woman and worker: she toils under miserable conditions to give her children the education she was denied because of gender discrimination and the high cost of school. Living and braving death in Cité Soleil, Solange details how Haiti’s current violence stems from a long-brewing economic crisis and how the global apparel industry’s inherent instability affects Haiti. Frustrated with male-dominated unions, Frisline offers a gender and class analysis of Haiti’s contemporary situation, including Haiti’s 2008 food crisis. Working for thirty years, Thérèse brings wisdom, a historical perspective, and a comparative analysis. Pushed off her land by foreign agricultural policies, activist Hélène leads a new grassroots campaign against violence, encouraging women to defend themselves. These five brave women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible.

The women’s own astute analyses are supported by interviews with Haitian NGO activists, government ministers, and scholars providing global, economic, and political context. The women’s struggles to unionize and images of their deplorable working conditions (captured by spy cameras) are juxtaposed with contradictory interviews of factory owners. Ultimately, these resilient women’s hardships are offset with positive images of them organizing and uniting their communities.

Throughout the film, the women’s stories are woven together by close-up shots of a mother’s hands braiding her daughter’s hair, while acclaimed novelist Edwidge Danticat narrates a “krik krak”, traditional folklore. This poetic story demonstrates Haitian women’s historical depth of struggle and resistance, while providing an homage to Haiti’s oral storytelling culture. The krik-krak grows and weaves with the film, until finally the two resolve together, with hope and resilience. In addition to these beautiful spoken words, Poto Mitan showcases a range of contemporary Haitian music by Emeline Michel, Boukman Eksperyans, Brothers Posse, Manze Dayila and the Nago Nation, and Awozam, along with empowerment songs by the women in the film.

Poto Mitan’s unique quality rests upon the women’s acute understanding of the power of film. Citing the Haitian proverb, “hearing and seeing are two different things”, the women implored Dr. Schuller to share their stories with people in the U.S., people who have the power to make change.

Poto Mitan will be a tool for education and empowerment; to inspire people to think critically, look behind the label, and get involved. We are connected: U.S. consumers buy the fruits of their labor; our government shapes Haiti through development/foreign policy. Our struggles have a common thread. Fighting for justice: women, workers, or Haiti can’t help but bring about our own liberation.

Read about:
All rights reserved, 2009.

Haitian Women Battling More Than Earthquake Survival: Sexual Violence Also Threatens Women's Lives

What follows is from two sources, the first promoting an important documentary, and the second an article from the Huffington Post. The first is *here* and the second is *here*.

Haitian Women
Haitian Women Told through the lives of five compelling Haitian women, documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy, offers an insider's perspective on globalization, Haiti's current crisis, and the resilient women challenging the system. These five brave women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible.
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Taina Bien-Aime
Taina Bien-Aime
Executive Director of Equality Now
Posted: January 19, 2010 05:32 PM

Haiti's Women in the Aftermath of Disaster

In the early morning hours following the shattering news that an earthquake hit my parents' homeland January 12, the phone rang. "Alain's in-laws died," said my sobbing cousin. Tragedy had hit home. Our anxiety increased as we wondered about the status of Alain's parents, as well as the dozen other cousins, uncles and beloved family members in Haiti. The countdown to find them began, despite limited means of communication into the besieged country. Intermittently glued to the TV screen searching for familiar faces and pretending to focus on the pressing tasks at my desk, every call brought feelings of fear, luck and guilt, while Port-au-Prince lay in ruins. Two heart-wrenching days later, we rejoiced as we heard that our immediate family was alive. In shock, they wondered how long their food and money would last. I also questioned the situation of women's safety in Haiti. Calamity continuing to unfold, the Haitian women's movement mourns three of its fiercest leaders, Myriam Merlet, Magaly Marcellin and Anne Marie Coriolan.

For many of us born of Haitian parents, tales of the westernmost portion of Hispaniola filled our childhood, depicting contrasts of beauty and struggle. While they bemoaned Haiti's tumultuous history as karmic payment for having dared to become the first black independent nation of the New World, in the same breath they sang its praises as the "pearl" of the Caribbean in their time, dominating in art and bearing natural genius for biting wit and poetry. I developed my own sense of Haiti as a land where entrenched patriarchy reigns and justice is scarce, but is nevertheless inescapably sustained by its women, pillars unrivaled in strength and grit, despite pervasive violence in their homes and on the streets. Who would ensure their protection in the aftermath of disaster?

The dust will not settle for some time in Port-au-Prince, but long before it does, human vultures will step into the mayhem, and target the most vulnerable for profit and human misery. The collapse of the capital's prison means some of the incarcerated have scattered back into the neighborhoods they once terrorized. The Haitian police, feckless in the best of times, have now tossed their hands to the heavens, scrambling to care for their own families and survival.

Violence against women is an unaddressed catastrophe in Haiti. Kay Fanm, a Haitian women's rights organization, estimates that 72% of Haitian girls surveyed have been raped and at least 40% of women are victims of domestic violence. Human trafficking and sex tourism were thriving businesses the day before the earthquake. In the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia, many feared a potential increase in human trafficking and urged respective governments to remain vigilant. With limited government capacity in Haiti,we can only shudder at the potential havoc criminal profiteers could trigger there, with probable impunity.

Scores of international agencies have documented the particular consequences of disasters on women and children. Following the tsunami, the US Agency for International Development in 2006 issued data from various organizations on the link between humanitarian emergencies and increased exposure of women and children to sexual violence and exploitation. Disaster relief efforts also often fail to give attention to the basic needs of women, the report indicated, which further jeopardizes their lives and safety.

Protection of human rights, particularly those of women and children, is as important as providing immediate medical attention, food and shelter. In Haiti, women come last in terms of protection from violence. One small example of the urgent need to establish special contingencies for women in post-earthquake intervention is underlined by images of men fist-fighting over UN-delivered food, while women, barely keeping hold of their babies, struggled in vain to reach the relief truck. Emergency assistance teams must ensure that coordinated security is in place to protect the most vulnerable and that the full participation of qualified women, in particular Haitian women, is secured to tackle gender issues in the response and management of disaster relief.

Invariably, foreigners leave Haiti enchanted by the kindness, easy smile and resilience of its people. If we want to invest in Haiti's recovery through which prosperity and stability will replace despair and chaos, we must ensure that protective measures and security systems for women and children are in place. Let us learn from our past mistakes and urge all international agencies in the earthquake relief efforts to implement urgently established guidelines (see for example the IASC Gender Handbook on to prevent avoidable unspeakable suffering and violence against women. Then perhaps, out of the dust, a diamond shall replace tears, and women will dance with hopes to thrive in a Haiti of their dreams.

Taina Bien-Aimé is the executive director of Equality Now, an international human rights organization.

Afghan Women's Survival: Hear Zoya's account, and find info here of what you can do to fundraise

ZOYA: "We see the situation of women, as women liberation was used as a justification to occupy Afghanistan. But today we see that women are suffering from different sides, as I said, from one side from the Taliban and from their rules and laws and from their suicide bombs, and from the other side, the US-NATO bombs. And mostly, as we notice, that during the past eight years, they killed more civilians than Taliban and terrorists. Many children, many innocent women were killed. Many times our—they attacked the wedding ceremonies. They attacked the poor people’s houses.
What follows is a cross post from two sources: NPR *here*, and MADRE's website, *here*.

Voices from Afghanistan: Afghan Women’s Activist Zoya Speaks Out on Eight Years of Occupation


Zoya is a member of the radical underground organization RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. She fled Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion but later returned to her country to document life under Taliban rule. She has been an outspoken critic of the US and NATO invasion of Afghanistan. [includes rush transcript]

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to a voice from Afghanistan. Zoya is a member of the radical underground organization called RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. She was a child during the Soviet invasion of her country. As a teenager, the mujahideen or warlords killed her activist parents. She fled with her grandmother to a refugee camp in neighboring Pakistan but later returned to her country to document life under Taliban rule. She has been an outspoken critic of the US and NATO invasion of her country.

Zoya is on a national tour of the United States this month and is speaking at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York today. For her own security inside Afghanistan, she goes by the pseudonym Zoya and does not appear on camera.

Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat asked Zoya over the telephone Tuesday for her thoughts on this eighth anniversary of the US-led bombing of Afghanistan.

ZOYA: Unfortunately, in the past eight years, with thousands of troops, with billions of dollars poured in the country, and with the tens of countries present in Afghanistan, the foreign countries, we see that there’s no positive change in Afghanistan. Still our people are suffering from insecurity.

Our people are caught up from different sides by different enemies. From one side, our people are suffering from Taliban, who has almost 70, 80 percent of Afghanistan under their control. From the other side, the warlords and drug lords have a lot of power in different provinces. And from the third side, unfortunately, the US and NATO bombs are killing our civilians. So, the past few years, I think, taught the foreign countries a new lesson, that as long as they are not changing their policy of supporting and compromising with Northern Alliance fundamentalists, there would be no root change in the political situation.

Today we see that after eight years—or before, United States occupied Afghanistan under the three banners, under three justifications, which was bringing democracy, liberation of Afghan women, and war, so-called war, on terror. But today we see that terrorism is increasing day by day. The Taliban are much more powerful than before. They are increasing in number. They are getting more stronger.

And we cannot talk even about democracy, because—as election was the proof that we have no democracy. And also, there’s no freedom of speech. There’s no freedom of expression in the country. The journalists are suffering, and they have very—a tough life and very threatening life, as a single word against the warlords and drug lords can result to their murder.

We see the situation of women, as women liberation was used as a justification to occupy Afghanistan. But today we see that women are suffering from different sides, as I said, from one side from the Taliban and from their rules and laws and from their suicide bombs, and from the other side, the US-NATO bombs. And mostly, as we notice, that during the past eight years, they killed more civilians than Taliban and terrorists. Many children, many innocent women were killed. Many times our—they attacked the wedding ceremonies. They attacked the poor people’s houses.

So we see that for the reasons that they occupied Afghanistan, these reasons remain the same, and there’s no positive change. And even the situation is getting more worse.

ANJALI KAMAT: Speaking as an Afghan woman who’s lived under the Taliban, who’s now, you know, lived under the US occupation, the return of Northern Alliance forces, and during the period of rule by different warlords, what, in your opinion, has been the most difficult time for Afghan women?

ZOYA: Unfortunately, it’s very hard to compare, you know, the darkest history of Afghanistan during these thirty years. But I can, for sure, say that—I mean, we had, like, the Soviet invasion. We had the Northern Alliance fundamentalist invasion. And then we had Taliban. And now we have the occupation. One thing I can say, that compared to everything, the fundamentalist domination was the darkest period of our history, which has unfortunately—’til today, is continuing, because these fundamentalist commanders and gunmen and warlords and war criminals have a lot of power and have key position today in the government. So I can say that fundamentalist domination of Afghanistan is the darkest period of our history.

ANJALI KAMAT: And would you describe the Taliban as fundamentalist, as well?

ZOYA: Exactly. We have two kind of fundamentalist groups. One is Taliban, and the other side is Northern Alliance fundamentalist groups, which call themselves a so-called jihadi group.

ANJALI KAMAT: And do you think US and NATO troops should withdraw from Afghanistan, or is there another mission that they can accomplish besides trying to fight terrorism?

ZOYA: Yeah, RAWA is in favor of withdrawal of the troops. And we think that if the United States government really feels sorry for the people of Afghanistan and really want to help, they can help us in some other ways. For example, they—first of all, they should disempower fundamentalist war criminals from the three organs of the government. They should disarm them, disarm their private armies and private, you know, soldiers that they have. They should change their policy of supporting fundamentalist groups in the past, you know, thirty years in Afghanistan. And still, they are doing the same thing. They should start supporting democratic parties and organizations.

So I think they have other alternatives if they really want to help us. And the troops have proved—there’s eight years’ proof that it’s already failed, and they will be failed. Even if they throw thousands and millions of other troops, the situation will be the same, because we need a change, a radical change, in the system, which is so corrupted. And it cannot be, you know, healed by throwing more troops. So we are in favor of withdrawal of the troops immediately.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Zoya, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, speaking with Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat.

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Support the Afghan Women's Survival Fund


Women in Afghanistan are being systematically killed for exercising their most basic human rights. MADRE is responding. We have launched the Afghan Women’s Survival Fund to deliver urgent support to women whose lives are threatened by the Taliban or other ultra-conservatives.

The Survival Fund supports an underground rescue network of women committed to providing shelter, communications and secret transport to women who have been targeted for attack.

Today, we’re calling on you to help us spread the word. MADRE has created the Afghan Women’s Survival Fund Founders Circle and we want to invite you to join. The Founders Circle is a group of people committed to raising support for the Fund and helping to ensure that more people hear about this urgently-needed, concrete way to respond to an atrocity that we cannot ignore.

Being part of the Founders Circle does not require making an additional donation, although whatever you can give is appreciated. The Founders Circle will work to raise the profile of the Survival Fund through activities such as:

Writing letters to friends, family members and colleagues to tell them about what we’re doing (click here to forward MADRE's appeal for the Fund).

Hosting a gathering at your home, school or other community institution to spread the word and generate support.

Organizing a fundraising event, such as a restaurant night, battle of the bands, movie night, dinner party, garage sale, bake sale, fashion show, can drive, awareness day and more.

We would be happy to talk about any ideas you have, to brainstorm with you and to provide materials to make it easier for you to reach out to others.

Join the Founders Circle

Because the need is so great, we’re setting a specific goal for the Afghan Women’s Survival Fund Founders Circle. We’re asking each Founder to raise a minimum of $1,000 at the Friend level in support of Afghan women. Founders who raise $1,500 for the Survival Fund will achieve Defender status and those who raise $2,500 will be named Human Rights Champions.

When you join the Founders Circle by making a pledge to become a Friend, Defender or Human Rights Champion, MADRE will:

Include your name on our website’s special Founders Circle tribute page (if you choose, you can of course participate anonymously).

Send a message of support from you to each woman who receives aid through the Fund.

Send you a video report-back about each woman’s case so you can hear directly about how your support has made a difference.

For more information or to join the Founders Circle, contact

Women in Guatemala need whistles and flashlights for safety: please do what you can to help out

What follows is a cross post from MADRE's website, *here*.

Flashlights & Whistles: Help Guatemalan Women Organizing Against Femicide

c. Helen Marden, MADREIn the past decade, nearly 4,000 women and young girls have been murdered in Guatemala. Many of them, including girls as young as 10, were tortured and raped, their bodies left in public places.  As a result, women have coined the term “femicide” to describe these widespread, gender-based killings committed with impunity. Of the 383 women’s murder cases in 2003, more than 300 are still awaiting results from police investigations today.

In response to the murders, women in Guatemala are organizing to protect each other. MADRE's sister organization, the Women Workers' Committee in Guatemala, has created neighborhood watch groups in their communities. Sandra Gonzales of the Women Workers' Committee describes the violence as "getting worse every day." However, she says "with your help we can continue to defend human rights for all women."

You can help these women by providing whistles and flashlights for the neighborhood watch. According to Sandra, "flashlights and whistles are essential to providing security for women and girls in our community," where there are no street lights and no reliable police protection.

If you don't have the supplies to donate, but still want to make a contribution, you can make a monetary donation to help alleviate the costs of shipping the whistles and flashlights to Guatemala.

How to Donate Supplies:

Simply mail your donation to:
Attn: Helping Hands
121 West 27th Street Suite 301
New York, NY 10001

Helping Hands can pick up your donation in Manhattan if it is too large for you to mail. You may also drop off your donation at the address above during our business hours, 9:30 am – 6:00 pm.