Women, self-recognition of their work for the defense of human rights in Oaxaca

On February 24th and 25th of 2023, the Committee for the Integral Defense of Human Rights Gobixha A.C. (CODIGO DH) convened a meeting of female human rights defenders, representatives of civil organizations and members of community assemblies in the state of Oaxaca as part of the workshop “Tools to strengthen the defense of women’s rights” and the campaign in favor of women’s rights “MujeresES de Lucha” (Women in Struggle).

Women from the regions of Valles Centrales, Istmo de Tehuantepec, Sierra Norte and Costa, shared their experiences of the resistance experienced by the communities of Oaxaca, thematizing the presence of megaprojects, the defense of water, gender violence, access to health care, and many other issues.

The space for dialogue was attended by the Norwegian Ambassador of Mexico, Ragnhild Imerslund, members of the Norwegian Human Rights Fund and the president of Amnesty International – Norway, who cooperate and provide accompaniment for the promotion of human rights in Mexico and especially the state of Oaxaca.

The international organizations learned from the women themselves about the great challenges they are currently facing regarding the social and political context. In order to guarantee women’s rights, following two issues are crucial to be resolved: the defense of land and territory that has placed the state among the first places in murders and aggressions against human rights defenders, and the wave of feminicide violence in which Oaxaca ranks very high in the national statistics.

Furthermore, wind and mining megaprojects in the Valles Centrales and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the current development of the ambitious Interoceanic Corridor project have a grand impact on the region and human rights situation.

The exchange of knowledge, experiences and concerns gave way to an analysis and reflection on the role of indigenous women and the importance of recognizing themselves in the daily struggle to defend their rights.
For her part, the general coordinator of Codigo DH, Candelaria Castellanos Alvarado, recognized the interest of the international guests at this meeting, which strengthens the defense of human rights in Oaxaca, as well as the openness of the participants to present their experiences, lessons learned and violence they have faced in their struggle.

During two days of activities in Oaxaca City, the women received tools to reconsider actions that can promote their advocacy initiatives and influence the rights agenda on the municipal, state and federal governments level, thus their work is made visible and not instrumentalized as an object of aggression.