December 6, 2016
To mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we are putting the spotlight on 6 Guatemalan women who are doing incredible work to challenge injustice and build a better future, despite the discrimination they have faced on account of their gender. These women are our colleagues or work with our partner organizations.
Angélica is a Maya Q’eqchi’ woman, a community leader and defender of human rights seeking justice in the brutal murder of her husband Adolfo Ich. In 2011, Angélica launched a lawsuit against mining company Hudbay Minerals Inc. in Canadian courts for violent attacks in El Estor, Guatemala which resulted in his death. She is also a plaintiff in the criminal trial against Mynor Padilla, former head of security for the Fenix mine, charged with killing Adolfo. Angélica has repeatedly faced defamation and other attacks for seeking justice, including the most recent armed attack against her home on September 16, 2016.
Rosa Elbira Coc Ich
Rosa Elbira is a Maya Q’eqchi’ woman from the community of Lote Ocho and a survivor of sexual violence. Along with 10 other Maya Q’eqchi’ woman from Lote Ocho, Rosa Elbira is suing Hudbay Minerals Inc. in Canadian courts for the sexual violence committed against them in 2007. In this civil suit, the women state that mining company security personnel, police and military sexually assaulted them during a forced eviction of their village sought by owners of the Fenix mine. Rosa Elbira has acted as a spokesperson for the group of women and, as one of the most high profile complainants in the case, has been a target of harassment in Guatemala.
Ana works for the Madre Selva Collective, an ecological organization that has been working in defense of territory and Guatemala’s biodiversity for 18 years. The organization provides support to communities struggling against mega-projects such as mines and hydroelectric dams.
Lesbia is the former national President of the Highland Small Farmers Committee (CCDA). In her early teens Lesbia received a scholarship from the CCDA that enabled her to complete high school. While still in school, Lesbia began to work with the movement, eventually coordinating the CCDA’s women’s empowerment program that focuses on women’s rights, micro-credit and self-esteem as a means of strengthening women’s participation in the campesino movement.
Isabel Osorio Tecu
Isabel has been deeply personally impacted by the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict, having lost many family members during the 1982 Rio Negro massacres, including her grandmother, siblings, cousins and aunts when she was only a child. Isabel has spoken internationally about the work of her community and the survivors of Rio Negro, including women who use weaving to tell their stories of survival and resistance. Both Isabel and her husband Jesus Tecú Osorio have received worldwide recognition for their work in human rights. Today, they live in Pacux with their eight children.
Ruti Tum Cuxum
Ruti is a former nurse and graduate of New Hope Foundation, founded by survivors of the Rio Negro massacre. The Foundation originally offered educational support (scholarships, computer training and tutoring) to Maya-Achi youth whose parents were victims or survivors of the 1980s genocide, thus contributing to the construction of a just and democratic state. Today, the Foundation offers a culturally relevant bilingual education junior high school program for the youth, from throughout the municipality of Rabinal, many of whom board at the school. To learn more about the school, visit us here.