Written by: Joana Lincho
“All of us have a role to play. When we all play our role, our rights will be realized”
– Orinoco Community Member, Sept. 20, 2013
This past Friday (Sept. 20, 2013) the MyBEST project interns took on the task of running the project’s final General Assembly. It was an opportunity to let the community know what we’ve been up to and how well we are achieving our goals. Alison C. and Catherine kicked off the Assembly by doing just that – explaining the project and how far along we are in reaching out goals. They also provided a general overview of what activities the project has done/is continuing to do. (For an in depth overview of this, check out “Overview of the MyBEST Project” posted Sept. 23, 2013).
The subject then turned to rights. What are human rights? What do they mean? Who has them? Who protects them? Steph and I started the discussion by asking participants to distinguish between wants and needs. We had them brainstorm in groups to come up with a list for both. It was a humbling experience. Not a single want identified by participants was material, but included things like “happiness, work, love, patience, health”. All these directly related to their list of needs. Excited with the participation of community members right off the bat, Steph and I moved into discussing gender awareness and women’s rights.
We knew this workshop was going to be different from our previous ones. Why did we know that? Men – there were men present at this workshop. Together, Steph and I have done a combined 7 workshops, with not a single male in attendance. This was finally an opportunity to learn about gender roles and relationships in Orinoco, from a dialogue between members of the community. We began by discussing what it means to be male and female. We asked participants to shout out words that they thought are used to describe each gender in their community. We used this to show how socially constructed ideas of gender are learned throughout life, and how easily these constructions can pave the way for gender-based discrimination. This discussion of power-imbalances led to a discussion on women’s rights. Having both male and female participants in attendance gave us the opportunity to really discuss the role that partners have in upholding women’s rights, and moving away from gender-based violence and discrimination.
Finally, the women’s rights potion of the General Assembly workshop concluded with Stephanie discussing Nicaragua’s role and Bill 779 – Ley Integral contra la Violencia hacia la Mujer/Integral Law Against Violence Towards Women. To provide some context, the objective of the bill is to:
- act against violence perpetrated against women
- protect human rights and ensure a life free of violence
- prevent, punish, and eradicate violence
- assist female victims of violence
It was interesting to get on the ground opinions of how this law is actually working within the community. Many participants felt that although this bill is a move forward in the direction of protecting gendered rights, there is still a long way to go to make this protection a reality. With that, participants shifted gears from their rights, to those of their children. Read Sam’s next blog post to learn more about Children’s Rights!