In Mexico, where ProDESC is based,
violence against women has increased
by over 400 percent since 2008.
Alejandra Ancheita founded ProDESC
to unite the strategies of the labor
movement and the human rights movement.
These threats can be very gender-specific when they are directed to women human rights defenders. Often threats against women defenders consist of using sexual violence or threatening to do so. I believe there is a clear difference between the violence and intimidation exercised against a woman defender and a male defender.”
to defend their territory and their right to free, prior,
and informed consent in relation to the construction
of wind farms by transnational companies.
who travel to the United States on temporary visas
and who are regularly the victims of recruitment fraud and
conditions of forced labor.
whose rights are being infringed upon by a
Canadian mining company in Durango, among
The Martin Ennals Award for Human
Rights Defenders is considered
“the Nobel Prize for human rights.”
Together, we discussed what we, as her international colleagues, could do to support her work and protect her: Alejandra has suffered death threats and a concerted campaign of vilification because of the work she has been doing with ProDESC, a Bertha Justice Initiative partner organization, with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities in Mexico.”
She is also one of the pioneers in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities' rights are not taken into account.”
Alejandra Ancheita, a human rights attorney from Mexico, has been living with threats against her life and her family's life in recent years. And while the threats have been transformative, they have also been empowering.”
The Bertha Justice Network's member
organizations unite for protection and
support of their lawyers - particularly
women, who face disproportionate threats
to their security.
It is too easy when working in the field of human rights, dealing with cases of torture or rape or with clients unjustly detained, to ignore our own experience of discrimination as being relatively unimportant.”
It is ok to be different.
It is ok to be strong.
It is ok to be soft-spoken.
It is ok to be loud.
It is ok to be you.”
You know as well as I that defending human rights is not a job, but a choice of life. But how to do it without sacrificing other aspects of our lives: our families, our personal growth, our health? This is not an easy exercise, we are amongst many women who fail to find this balance. We obtain legal victories and protect others, but are unable to secure our own physical and spiritual wellbeing.”
You want me low.
I am high
You want me gone.
I am everywhere
You want me alone.
I am multiplying
You want me quiet.
I am telling the world
You want me scared.
I am looking for you ”
Inasmuch as we work together to bring positive change in society, it is never a bad thing to examine ourselves to see if change needs to happen within our ranks. Inasmuch as we want to change the world, we ourselves must change. We are all products of the societies we grew up in - as much as I am a victim of the patriarchal structure of our culture, you are too.”
The solidarity that came out of this initiative is so genuine that it has not only empowered us as professionals, but it has also inspired our respective personal paths. This has been a very cherished experience for me. I can only hope that the group extends its reach to more and more individuals.”
The Women's Working Group is a reflection of the desire of women lawyers from all around the world to continue to create safe spaces for themselves and for more women who wish to work in the field of human rights. The WWG was a fellow driven initiative. It is wonderful that Bertha continues to support it.”
International solidarity is so very important, not just to show the government we have support abroad, but to counteract the campaigns aimed at defaming us, and at separating human rights defenders from the communities we work with.”