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Directory of Nicaraguan Women's Organizations
Women’s rights organizations:
Centro de Mujeres Xochilt-Acalt
CENZONTLE El Centro para la Participacion Democratica y el Desarrollo
Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa
Comité de Mujeres Rurales
Hablemos de Nosotras
Movimiento de Mujeres Lucrecia Lindo
Colectivo de Mujeres Ocho de Marzo
Colectivo de Mujeres Itza
Colectivo de Mujeres Xochilt
Asociación Casa de la Mujer de Bocana de Paiwas
La Oficina de la Mujer Edelma Martinez
El Colectivo Feminista La Malinche
Other women’s organizations:
Movimiento de Mujeres Trabajadoras y Desempleadas Maria Elena Cuadra
Cooperativa de Mujeres Nueva Vida
FODEM - Fondo para el Desarrollo de la Mujer
FEMUPROCAN Federacion Agropecuaria de Mujeres Productoras del Campo
As a WCCN intern in the fall of 2003, I have been specifically working on researching, compiling, and creating a list of about 20 specific Nicaraguan Women’s organizations that the Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP) study tours have met with over the last few years. This has been a challenging project for me in three specific ways. First of all, groups such as these are under represented in Nicaragua and even more so in the United States. I for one, was unaware of the complexity and energy of the Nicaraguan women’s movement which includes a web of different grassroots organizations as well as groups on a departmental and national level. One reason for the under representation is a lack of materials on the internet and in books and articles in newspapers and magazines. Most of the information that I had to go on was from my own notes which I gathered on about half of the organizations during the June 2003 WEP study tour and tape recordings of previous interviews with the women’s organizations. When I did find information published online or in articles or pamphlets it was almost always in Spanish which presented a second challenge for me. This was my first experience in translating significant amounts of material in my second language. A third challenge presented to me was deciding on the best way to go about speaking on behalf of all these organizations. I didn’t want to talk for them or say things about the groups that were inaccurate. It was difficult because I have not spent much time in Nicaragua and it is hard for an American woman like myself to step into the shoes of a Nicaraguan working for a women’s collective or network and to accurately represent her thoughts and feelings. I was finally able to settle on the goal of liaison and do my best to give voice to these organizations through my own knowledge of them, realizing that I could never fully understand what it is like for the women of Nicaragua. I am presenting this information in support and solidarity through the desire that I have to give these women’s groups more of a voice in the United States. By creating this document with brief overviews on the histories, goals, current projects, and future plans of each organization; I hope to allow people to learn more about the work being done in Nicaragua as well as gain contact information so that people can be in touch with further questions and establish new connections.
Overall this has been a very rewarding experience. I would like to dedicate this document to all of the strong and dynamic women of Nicaragua who have worked so hard for their rights as citizens and community members in a country where being a woman is no easy task. I would encourage the reader to spend some time learning about the Nicaraguan women’s organizations highlighted below and to be in contact with them or WCCN if you have any further questions.
WCCN Student Intern
*Many of the quotes used in this document were taken directly from tape recorded interviews or notes taken during WCCN study tours.
The Network of Women Against Violence started in 1992 during national meeting of “Women United in Diversity” as was one of five networks created. The networks created each focus on a specific issue; reproductive and sexual rights, health, economics, education, and violence. There was a major split in the women’s movement as people began to work for specific causes that they were interested in. Later that same year they promoted their first campaign titled, “Breaking the Silence.” In 1993, they added to their first campaign, entitling that year’s campaign, “Breaking the Silence…And what are the answers?” 1994’s campaign was entitled, “I want to live without violence.” Later that same year the network encountered a crisis when they realized that the horizontal way of organizing the movement had been using was not very effective and that some major re-organizing work needed to be done. In 1995, the network organized a national meeting on the issue of violence against women and invited all organizations with a commitment to the campaign to send female representatives. The slogan for the meeting was “There are no excuses for violence.” By 1996, the network presented a draft to National Assembly with 11 protection and security measures for women, especially those who have been subjected to violence. Also, women could have the right to request these measures. Items in the proposal included; the recognition of psychological injury as a crime, a request that the state pledge to protect citizens’ mental health and emotional well-being, a proposal to eliminate Penal code law that blamed only women for crimes of illicit union and adultery, proposed legal protection of family patrimony and recognition of and legal actions taken in cases of family violence.
The proposal failed at first, so the network decided to take on the National Assembly. After a heated debate they came to the conclusion that they could not save protection of family patrimony within the proposal and re-drafted the entire proposal. The proposal successfully passed as law 230, the law against domestic violence, on August 13th, 1996. The law contained things such as recognition of intrafamily violence as a crime, establishment of specific protection measures, definition of psychological injury a crime, and an amendment to illicit union and adultery section of the Penal code. By December of that same year, the Health Ministry had already officially recognized the portion of the law that recognized intra-family violence as a serious public health issue. In 1997 the network attempted to block the creation of a new Ministry of Family and implemented a strategic plan. More than 100 women from 118 different organizations drafted a three year plan for 1997-2000, and organized work commissions. 1998 was another year of crisis because of Zoilamerica’s public denunciation and Hurricane Mitch. This year’s slogan was “The Hurricane didn’t sweep away our right to live without violence.” The network chose to focus their energy, efforts and attention on a healing, rebuilding and empowerment process after Mitch, as well recognition of situations of violence in the shelters. In 1999 a year long debate ensued which ended in the creation and development of a thirteen member Coordinating and Executive Commission for quick decision-making procedures.
In 2001 the network encountered problems with the police. They started a campaign that year based on Murders of women in Juarez Mexico and the issue of femicide in general. Their slogan that year was, “I’m a female citizen; I demand to live without violence.”
In the past several years, the network has focused mainly on the issues of how to represent and serve all women even if they come from different backgrounds. The networks goals are to focus on domestic violence, intra-family violence, and sexual violence. One member said about the network, “We wish to transform power relations in order to eradicate all forms of violence that attack the dignity and the physical, psychic, moral, social and sexual integrity of women of all ages, particularly sexual and domestic violence.” (1) Violeta Delgado, ex-secretary and current member of the network explained that they are still working on how to incorporate age and ethnic diversity into their programming and development as well as conducting another major reconstruction project in the next several years. This year the slogan is “I am a female citizen; I demand to live without violence!” Another goal for the future is to build more of a democracy within the network. The network would like to widen work to encompass gender violence and ask questions such as; how can we strengthen our network at the local level? (2/3)
(1) La Boletina No.47 Mujeres Campesinas: Pilar de la Economia
Nacional (June/August 2001) pg 18
(3) Delgado, Violetta. “The Experiences and Achievements of the Women’s Network Against Violence.” Speaking Out. April 2003.
Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia
De donde fue el Cine Cabrera 2 1/2 c. al sur
Phone: (505) 222-4803 (249-3607)
Fax: (505) 222-5355 (268-3141)
" I always try to be coherent. I live what I think. That’s what gives me the power to deal with all that shit.”
" What do we women have in common independent of our differences?”
" The women’s movement in Nicaragua has a very big body with a little head. And we need to strengthen that head.”
The National Feminist Committee began in 1992 out of necessity
for more organization of the Nicaraguan women’s movement
on a national level. A national meeting was called that year which
50 leaders and 800 women attended. Eight networks were formed from
that assembly but they soon fell apart because the organization
as a whole needed a leader to take responsibility in a “transparent” way
and not just have the networks functioning as separate entities.
The National Feminist Committee wanted to rebuild the movement
in an organized, unified and democratic way. Sofia Montenegro
explained that the most important moments for the organization
and the movement
were when they re-encountered themselves, recognized each other,
and decided that gender issues should be put in the agreement
that the committee would be deciding upon. The organization as
was re-formed in 1994/1995. In 1998 the main focus of the Committee
was aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. After that, the
Committee moved into a period of systematic political debate,
which is still
in effect today.
The National Feminist Committee strives to develop a new identity for different kinds of women while continuing to unite them with common goals. The Committee recognizes the need to diversify the organization as a whole, and remain a national committee of women representing different sectors. The National Feminist Committee is now in a period of re-evaluated the newly reformed institution by asking questions such as “where is the society going?” and “what has been happening with the women’s political movement in Nicaragua?”
Spokesperson: Sofia Montenegro
Iglesia El Carmen
1 c. al Lago, 1 c. abajo
Telephones: (505) 266-3431 or (505) 222-5967
" Men here know very well that we will not invest any money if the property is not in a woman’s name.”(4)
The Xochilt-Acalt Women’s Center started as a mobile clinic in 1990 when three FSLN Municipal Council members decided to start a mobile sexual and reproductive health clinic for women. The clinic began with the help of five women and has been around since 1991. The next big project of these women was a literacy campaign followed by programs in agriculture and construction. Because of their efforts, women have received scholarships for primary, secondary and university education. In May 2001, thirty-three women were receiving basic education in reading and writing and 133 had already received scholarships.
The center has now taken a women’s empowerment focus. One woman who discussed her experiences stated, “The center gives women a space to develop what already exists within them and to go on from there.” One of the founders, Mertxe Brosa, believes it is equally important to promote gender equality and the empowerment of the participants through economics. (5) The administrative board, called the Council of Directors is made up of 7 women who meet biweekly. Each member focuses on a different area: construction, finance, production, administration, clinic services, organization, training, the scholarship program and citizen participation. As of June 2003, the clinic had over 5,700 patients on file and new people come into the clinic every day. More than 500 women from outside the municipality use the clinic and 800 women from 32 communities participate in various projects that the center offers.
Currently, the center has an array of different areas in which they work with women. For example, the Xochilt-Acalt Family Orientation and Sex Education Center is up and running in connection with the clinic and promotes and dispenses contraceptive methods. The clinic holds health promoter training and occasional campaigns against cancer, offering to all women a free consultation, Pap smear and medication from the center’s pharmacy in the communities associated with the clinic. If a woman needs special treatment that the clinic cannot provide, funds from the clinic help pay for transportation to Managua for special cancer treatments. In addition to these options, the clinic has a mobile component that travels to far reaching rural areas to give women treatment.
The overall gender equality program includes four levels of empowerment
which women must progress through by attending workshops and
discussions. As far
as the specific empowerment programs, youth reflection groups meet once a
month for two hours to look for ways to improve life and discussions of issues
as autonomy, the recognition of the body and sexuality, independence, speaking
in public, communication, Law against domestic violence and menstruation.
Also, workshops for adult women include topics such as women’s bodies, education,
and public speaking. Thirdly, the credit program promotes women’s empowerment
in several ways. For example, credit is offered exclusively to women and in order
to receive credit (in the form of cows) at least seven acres of the family farm
must be in the woman’s name, and to apply for post-Mitch housing, the house
must be built in the woman’s name.
In addition to the clinic and women’s empowerment projects, other programs have also been successful components of the center, such as a veterinary program, a program for raising animals, adult education and literacy classes, a construction project, a gardening project, a small business program which generates income for the center, an agricultural program and a sewing program.
The center’s main goal right now is to encourage citizen participation in local development which includes forming an NGO and partnering with it. With the NGO project, the women who run the center are beginning to co-implement a four year citizen participation project beginning with training of male and female leaders and attempting to democratize the electoral process at the community level and that it be more focused on citizen needs. In an effort tospread the word or the women's empowerment experience of the women's center Xochilt Acalt , WCCN translated to English a book written by Nicaraguan feminists Sofia Montenegro and Elvira Cuadra which is available in an electonic version: The Keys to Empowerment: Ten Years of Experience of the Xochilt-Acalt Women's Center (PDF format).
(4) Rocha, Jose Luis. “The Women
of Malpaisillo: Our Lives Have Changed.” Envio Magazine May 2001.
(5) La Boletina No. 50 Mujeres y La Pobreza: Como la vivimos y como la superamos (Fe./April 2002) pg. 44
Centro de Mujeres Xochitl-Acalt
Del arbolito media cuadra al sur
Tel/Fax: (505) 0316-286
Telephone: (505) 0316-226
Cenzontle is a non-governmental organization located in Estelí that was started in 1989. The program’s name is an indigenous word that means “a thousand voices” and “signifies the thousands of voices in Nicaragua that we want to impact,” says one member.
Cenzontle’s goals are as follows:
- To improve socioeconomic conditions among poor Nicaraguan women
- To strengthen gender awareness, affirm women’s capacity and confidence as protagonists, defend their rights, articulate their needs and participate in public decision making.
- To increase women’s economic opportunities and autonomy through skills training and the development of sustainable micro enterprise projects in their communities
- To consolidate and strengthen Cenzontle’s institutional capacity to respond to the needs of low-income women in order to ensure financial sustainability.(6)
Cenzontle is always working to strengthen the institution as a whole. Cenzotle’s current projects include development of a training curriculum, which includes workshops on self-esteem, gender, marketing, credit management, and feasibility studies. This program helps women learn to perform basic accounting, costing, budget planning, organizing, salaries, machine costs, business management, money management, deal with customers, keep records, take inventory and conduct feasibility analysis. The Enterprise Development Program helps women to recognize their abilities, become leaders and promote community development in their respective communities. Finally, the Civic Participation Program has been set up with goal of increasing civic participation and helping women to become leaders.
Cenzontle’s future projects include expanding the program to aid other communities and continuing to support women who are in the process of going from survival to economic independence.
(6) Strengthening Women’s Political and Economic Participation: A Training and Education Project in Nicaragua.”
Executive Director: Norma Irías Carrasco
Women’s Collective of Matagalpa was founded in 1986 and in 1990 they gained legal jurisdiction. In 1993, the collective began to work with two communities and in 1996 it began working with 20 promoters. Now 1000 women in four communities participate in programming from the collective and they have built a local Women’s house (Casa de La Mujer) for gatherings. In 1994, the collective expanded its programming to include information on sexuality (STDs and AIDS) to contribute to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and to increase responsible sexual practices. In 1996 they developed a project called International Action for Health (Acción International por La Salud, AIS), which further promotes personal health.
Today there are 34 people total in
the collective: 10 in administration, 5 in organization, 7 in health,
and 12 in communication. There
is a General Assembly
which consists of a 10 member board as well as a Member Assembly where specific
leaders meet. The Collective works in the areas of health, communication, and
organization/training. One member explains the goals of the collective as such, “We
want to recognize our abilities as women, our capacity, our power and our importance
in the family, community, and the country.”(7) The organizational component
of the collective has programming such as literacy and education classes with
topics such as; sexuality, violence, domestic work, health rights of women,
a legal program to contribute to the betterment of the social-legal situation
women, defending our rights, coordinated actions and services, capability,
organization, and investigation. Through these programs the organization aspires
to help prevent
and eradicate violence. There is a program specifically designed for rural
women to encourage the participation of the women as subjects promoting their
The communication component of the collective also offers a wide variety of programming including five radio programs called: “Y ahora, yo tengo la palabra” (“and now I have the word” est. 1986) directed towards women, “Prohibido escuchar” (listening prohibited) for young people, “Conversando” (Conversing), “Variedades” (Varieties) with general themes for all ages, and “El reino de revés” (The Backwards Kindom) for children.
In addition to radio programming, the organization has a theater program “Nuestra Cara” (our face), a library (1986), and kids/adolescent programming (1994) called “El Rincón de los Sueños” (The Dream Corner). “Nuestra Cara” gives support, reflection and sensitivity on issues such as intrafamily violence, maternal mortality, women’s and children’s rights as well as other issues. The goal of “El Rincón de los Sueños” is to begin teaching kids at an early age to adapt to a new way of thinking about society and to assign different values to men and women and the relationships between the two sexes that are different from the current values.
The health component to the program has been developed through the successful completion of training of 60 health promoters. Promoters are taught to educate women about health as a basic human right. They are trained to support women who have been raped or who become victims of violence not only physically, but also psychologically and legally as well. They have done numerous studies on maternal mortality, analyzing all of the factors in each case and taking steps towards prevention as much as possible.(8)
(7) La Boletina No. 45 Mujeres de
la RAAN: consturendo el Porvenir (Nov.2000/Jan.2001) pg. 85
Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa
Del Banco Mercantil 2 1/2 cuadras al este
Fax: (505) 612-2458
Telephone: (505) 612-4462
The Committee of Rural Women (Comité de Mujeres Rurales) was founded in 1993 in León. It was the initiative of a group of women from Association of Farm Workers (ATC) and the group has been working in nine different communities. Eleven people currently work in the program office and their goals include consciousness-raising of women’s state of subordination with a focus on gender issues. The committee had been giving workshops on women’s human rights, the law against domestic violence, and women’s access to justice/legal rights and then formed part of the The Network of Popular Defendors (La Red de Defensoras Populares), which is made up of 60 women from: four Leon communities-Los Cocos, El Panal, Los Portillos, Las Carpas-and four Chinandega communities-El Bejuco, Santa Rosa, San Lucas, Las Grietas. The first meeting of this network was held from Nov.30th to Dec.1st 2001. (9) The network works toward the prevention of sexual and intrafamily violence, and transform themselves into a movement of social independence.
Another important part of the committee’s programming is to contribute to women’s economic independence. One woman said, on the subject of recent programming developments: “Among our economic empowerment program, we are developing concrete activities in order to establish production and small irrigation systems in 400 enclosed yards. The women are beginning to raise sheep and goats and are receiving training in related subjects.” The economic empowerment program includes an agriculture program, technical training workshops, technical support, nutrition, and community health (goat project). Other projects include other training workshops, literacy classes with a particular theme (Ex: violence, sexuality, etc.), domestic violence awareness program, training for escort service, door to door information, the garden project, gender formation and leadership programs for women, the police network program against violence and the campaign for International Women’s Day.
Future projects of the committee include extending the program to benefit more communities and the development of a sexual and reproductive health program.
(9) La Boletina No 50 Mujeres y La Pobreza: Como La Vivimos y Como La Superamos (Feb/April 2002) pg. 86
Director: Olga María Espinoza
Comité de Mujeres Rurales
Del Supermercado Salman
2 cuadras al norte, 1/2 abajo
Telefax: (505) 311-0471
Hablemos de Nosotras is a women’s organization based on raising awareness and promoting women’s rights through radio programming. The organization began in 1991 as a result of a radio class that one woman from the organization completed earlier that same year. The specific objective of the organization is to inform people about women’s rights. The organization works primarily with a gender focus; informing girls and young women about sex education, abortion, human and sexual rights. The organization currently broadcasts four radio programs (one hour a week for each program), two of which are in Leon and two in Chinandega. They have between 140-150 promoters who broadcast the shows and go door to door to raise awareness. It is estimated that about 2,000 people are in contact with the radio programming (June 2003). In addition to radio programming, Hablemos de Nosotras has a community health program where they work with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to give monthly workshops.
Hablemos de Nosotras is currently looking for a permanent facility to own. Future projects include a mobile radio program, which will further facilitate the goal of extending radio programming to more communities, especially those in rural areas.
Director: Maria Elena Sandino
Iglesia El Calvario 2c. Al sur
" It’s terrible in this society, a woman’s life. That’s why we have to continue working with the women of this community.”
Lucrecia Lindo Women’s Movement began under a mango tree in Chinandega, Nicaragua in May 1992. They had an election and formed a board of directors soon after, beginning their organization with the general objective to educate women on how to defend their rights. They have a gender focus and really want to develop a branch of their facility in Chinigalpa and Vialejo and continue networking with other organizations that work for similar causes. Currently they are working with a number of different organizations including the National Feminist committee, the Democratic forum and the civil committee.
The organization rents a facility and operates on a monthly budget
of $843.00. They have a lawyer and psychologist on staff and
they offer a yearly course
on legal issues ($135.00 budget for lawyer and psychologist per month). They
usually deal with about 5-8 domestic violence cases daily and in May 2003
they served 172 women. Their technical committee meets once every fifteen
the coordinator of network of women against violence.
Lucrecia Lindo Women’s Movement focuses in the four areas of education, prevention, sanction, and promotion. They occasionally work with couples but their primary focus is working with local women. The organization currently has three radio programs to help women identify violence and learn to speak up and report cases of violence. They offer free services such as legal counseling on domestic violence, divorce and child support. They also conduct a self help group for survivors every two weeks. Their support for children also comes from the development of a committee on children to help protect children living with interfamily violence. In the area of health, the organization has a commission against AIDS. This is an integral part of the organization, because Chinandega has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the country. They also refer women to the Ministry of health clinics and other health care facilities.
Director: Maria Castillo
The Venancia group is a popular feminist education and communication
group that started in April 1991. The name Venancia comes from
the name of a rural
woman who helped to organize and lead the rural people in the mountains of
Jinotega. She was part of a union and had dreams for people in rural areas
to be owners of their own land. Her union became part of the FSLN in the
1960s. She educated all of her children on their rights and led the fight
Somoza during the revolution. During the revolution she was arrested by the
National Guard and put into jail where she was abused. She left jail weak
and sick but continued to fight for the rights of rural people. She did not
to see the end of the revolution but represented a strong cause until her
The Venancia Group has participated in the network “Reflect Action” on a national and Central American level and continues to send representatives to the yearly meetings. In 1991, the group participated in a regional encounter of young women from Matagalpa and Jinotega. Later that year they began workshops with a group of women from Matagalpa, focusing on the three topics; training, getting organized, and expressing themselves. The training was a huge success and by 1993, they had divided the training sessions up into two age groups (8-12 yrs and 13-19 yrs). From1994 to 1996 the group worked on an assessment of women in communities of Bocana de Paiwas and Mulukuku. In 1995 they expanded their program to include people from Ometepe island and two groups from Managua. By 1996, three new groups had joined including an Estelí literacy group from Asturia’s Jinotega, Tuma (34km away from Matagalpa), and the Talpri group from Matagalpa. In 1997, the three previously mentioned groups began participating in the encounter and the year 1998 saw increasing participation on all levels. In 1999, they received large amounts of funding that had not been previously available.
The overall goal of this organization is “to contribute to the development of our personal and collective autonomy as women and to transform our reality by building relations of equality among women, and between men and women, in order to live more freely.” (10) Eduviges Solis, member of the facilitation team stated the overall goals in her own words, “We want to liberate ourselves from forms of violence, to be owners of our bodies and of our sexuality, to develop our powers in order to live freely. We are constructing our autonomy in order to participate in the decisions that affect our lives from the personal to the social. We organized ourselves collectively in order to create and share new powers. This is the culture that we want.” Grupo Venancia began in Matagalpa with 11 women of different ages who organized themselves to work with children, young people, and adults of rural areas and the city. Now, the group has extended themselves to work with 14 groups from 10 different communities in the northern region of Nicaragua. The specific objectives of the group are as follows:
- To contribute to developing a critical conscience regarding power relations, and to empower women as subjects, allowing for the transformation of beliefs, attitudes and practices of discrimination and subordination by gender and age, taking into account women’s diversity.
- To strengthen individual and collective women’s leadership of all ages.
- To promote a culture of equity, diversity and human creativity that contributes to eliminate prejudices, value women and make women visible.
- To improve the quality of work and synergy of Grupo Venancia through its institutional development, empowerment, and personal growth of each of its members.
- The strategies of theVenancia group are as follows:
- Development of processes of training and personal and spiritual growth for women of all ages.
- To contribute to and gain from the women’s movement coalitions.
- Promotion of spaces for cultural expression.
- Service and accompaniment in solidarity to women
- Institutional strengthening
- Creation and distribution of educational and public awareness material.
One member spoke about the development of the group; “we ventured to speak of ourselves, our mental health, and our happiness between women speaking of how to organize ourselves better, how to change the reality, our reality inside and outside, personally and as Grupo Venancia. We explore and express our history through cultural promotion… here as we are weaving our networks. Our general objective is to contribute to the construction of equal relationships between women and men, developing personal and collective empowerment of women and transforming discriminatory values and concepts.”
Grupo Venancia has no hierarchical system of organization. There are no bosses or directors and everyone works together and receives the same salary irregardless of their background. They work in connection with several other Nicaraguan groups like the Network of Women of Matagalpa, the Network of Women of the North “Ana Lucila”, the National Network of Women Against Violence and the local government. They emphasize work with a diverse groups of women in order to discuss a broader range of women’s experiences with issues such as gender, violence and sexuality. They promote power from the inside: “to be conscious of our power), the power for (the facilitator), and the power with (the collective).”
The Venancia Group has four areas of focus; education, communication, participation and advocacy. Since 1998 they have initiated programs such as: a pilot program in women’s literacy, workshops for women in Matagalpa on motherhood, sexuality, abortion and domestic violence, active participation in the their communities, public awareness campaigns, and a housing and community development project for 60 families who lost their homes to Hurricane Mitch. Since 2002, Grupo Venancia has been part of the Regional Gender and Governance Programme and they are also a member of One World Action’s “Closing the Gap” campaign for the rights of women workers. (11)
(10) La Boletina No. 50 Mujeres y La Pobreza: Como
la vivimos y como la superamos (Feb/April 2002) pg. 78
(11) Maria de la Paz Arauz. Winds of Peace Foundation Docket 2002. Grupo Venancia
Apartado 229 Matagalpa
De la Iglesia Guadalupe, 1/2 cuadras al sur
Telephone: (505) 612-3562
"Our work is about stimulating communication and discussion about difficult topics. In this play we bring to light a topic that is a harsh reality in the life of many Nicaraguans. Abortion should be taken seriously and be an area of social and government policy.” -Luz Marina Torrez
The March 8th Women’s Collective was originally the largest of the three groups that were part of the inter-collective and is located in the 6 district of Managua. The Ocho de Marzo Women’s Collective officially started on May 13th 1989. Prior to that in 1988, a discussion was held with 70 women of district 6 of Managua in La Villa José Benito Esobar. They began training and reflection on the four issues: violence (mental and psychological), the domestic world, health, and menopause. With the aid of Magaly, a woman from the Women’s Collective of Matagalpa and four Italian women, they began to get the collective underway. They organized a commission of women for monthly meetings and began work with the local police with the goal of convincing them that the subject of violence should move more to the public sphere. By May 13th 1989 they had a house for their collective and they began to reflect more on feminism. Later that same year they began to offer services. They had a lawyer, a doctor, and a psychologist, and they formed the first group of popular defenders with 50 women from five barrios of district 6. These women received training on laws, the constitution, and violence as a public problem. From the popular defenders program, groups called “groups against violence” were formed to paint the doors of abusers homes with the words, “here lives an abuser of women.”
In 1992, The March 8th Women’s Collective became a legal association. From 1992-1994, they have helped the Women’s House in Bocana de Paiwas. Four days each month, eight women from the collective travel to Bocana de Paiwas to do theater and training. They hold workshops on uterine and cervical cancer, menopause, contraception, and prevention of disease.
When one approaches the center in Managua, a sign outside the collective reads the following, “Reflecting on our daily experiences as women permits us to value ourselves, to have self-esteem, and identify ourselves as women. We have created a space in which…” (13)
Current projects include a reproductive health clinic, educational program, Domestic Violence Program, an Organizational team of leaders, a job training programs, sewing and beauty classes and the theater project. The theater group writes, produces, and puts on plays that cater to different audiences. Community participation is stressed in the selection of performance topics. They invite the audience to discuss the issues presented in the play after the show. They often do street theater. Issues addressed in the plays include but are not limited to teen pregnancy, maternal mortality, wife abuse, abortion, reproductive health, incest, marriage. (14) The actors work in Community education, at a shelter for battered women, and are a part of the National Feminist Committee.
(13)Colectivo de Mujeres 8 de Marzo Informe Annual 1999 (WCCN Archives)
(14) Anderson, Julie Kay. “Hay que ser muy mujer/To be very much a woman, 59
Director: Luz Marina Torrez
Colectivo de Mujeres Ocho de Marzo
De Siemens 2 cuadra arriba 1/2 cuadra al sur
Phone: (505) 249-1701
Fax: (505) 249-1701
The Itza Women’s Collective began on January 1, 1989 and is named after and Indigenous woman of the time of the Spanish Conquistadors who resisted enslavement through helping other indigenous women perform abortions in cases of rape by Europeans. The Collective is part of district four in Managua. After the separation of the inter-collective from AMLAE, Itza in particular had a difficult time because they had to fight for the rights to their building. In 1998, Itza withdrew from the Inter-Collective because of a difference in opinion on the management of a shelter for women victims of violence that the Inter-Collective had been working on.
The Collective’s goal is to help women develop a basic understanding of their bodies, how they work, and how to care for them. There is an emphasis in reproductive health, sexuality, existing gender roles, socioeconomic structure of the family and its negative affects on women, as well as pride in being a woman. One collective member explains, “Our goal is that women learn, above all, to know themselves, to know what their rights are, to know what they can fight for, and above all, that they can form their own goals and say ‘I can’, and be positive about themselves…The goal of this collective is to fight so that everyday women will feel more useful and valuable.” (20) According to an article written in Counterparts “Its mission is to fight for the equality between men and women, contributing to the personal and public autonomy of women in general and the victims of physical, sexual and emotional violence in particular. Its purpose is to improve the living conditions and support the organization and women’s empowerment in the neighborhoods where they work.” (15)
Itza works with 200 people monthly and is very focused on outreach work within the barrios of Managua. Current projects of the Collective include support groups using music, candles, herbal tea, massage, and visualization exercises, legal advice for child support (in cases of contested paternity, unilateral divorce, domestic abuse, rape, and incest), training in legal services, sexuality, health and violence, gynecological services including pelvic exams, pregnancy tests, family planning, pap smears, attention to menstruation and menopause, job training programs, and sewing and beauty classes.
Director: Bertha Inéz Cabrales
Colectivo de Mujeres Itza
Del Edificio Armando Guido 3 c abajo 1/2 c. al sur
Barrio San Luis, Carrerera Norte or
Carretera Norte, Costado Este del Complejo Ajax
Phone: (505) 249-0062
Fax: (505) 249-0062
The Xochilt Women’s Collective is named for the Nahautl goddess of spring. This name was chosen to be a reflection of the historic power of women. Xochilt began as part of the Intercollective, together with Ocho de Marzo and Itza and is part of District 5 in Managua.
The collective works with about 300 people every month and is a very active and community based organization. Current Projects of the collective include legal, health, and training, an active volunteer group, jurisdiction program for the popular defenders, a program for adolescents and young people which includes a project that provides internships and practical experience for secretarial students, workshops on topics such as female gender identity, role-plays, and brainstorms with ideas that the participants bring to the table.
The collective has connections with networks such as the Health Network María Cavalleri, the Network of Women against Violence, The National Feminist Committee, and the National Coordinator of Civil Society. According to the Institutional Plan for 1999-2001, there were 30 popular defenders, 35 Health and Midwives Promoters, 30 adolescents, 40 facilitating the process of intervention and prevention of violence, and 12 involved leaders in the whole process of systimatization. Overall they recorded 15,000 women and families from the 5th district of Managua where they serve, and 9,000 women in other districts and regions where they have done work in the past.
Director: Nora Meneses
Colectivo de Mujeres Xochilt
C. América Reparto Sabick II etapa Papperia
Phone: (505) 289-1516
The Women’s House Association Bocana de Paiwas was founded in 1992 by a group of women aware of the fact that women's issues were not part of the political agenda of that time. The Casa first opened with a health program to provide early detection of cancer as well as other reproductive health education.
Since 1992 the Women’s House has worked promoting campesina women in the Municipality of Bocana de Paiwas, 230 kilometers northeast of Managua. Responding to the demands of the female population, it has created preventive health programs including pap smears and family planning services.
The Casa has prospered and become a vital women's center in the isolated zone in the mountains of the RAAS/RAAN and Matagalpa. In 1998 in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch, the Women’s House built 47 homes for poor women and their families with the help of its membership. It also established a forest preserve as an educational tool for the children of the area. In 2002 it set up its own radio station and has daily gender issue programs for campesina women within a 60 mile radius.
The Women’s House is now organizing in the hill country surrounding
Paiwas a network of campesina women who are at risk of domestic violence.
to it that the women who are actual victims of domestic violence are accompanied
during the judicial process and personal recovery. Looking to the future,
it has developed educational programs for the youth of the town and countryside.
Its youth dance troupe enriches the cultural expressions of the population.
The Women’s House also plays a key role in the struggle for just compensation for the houses and lands that will be inundated by the flooding from the proposed hydroelectric plant that will be built near Copalar down river from Paiwas. The Nicaraguan government is doing nothing so far to ready the population for this traumatic experience.
Director: Celia Contreras Zambrano
Casa de la Mujer de Bocana de Paiwas
Bocana de Paiwas, Zelaya Central, Nicaragua
Apartado: EC # 37, Managua, Nicaragua.
phone: (505) 279-9852
In 1999 a group of women got together from different parts of the municipality of Rio Blanco to discuss how to aid women who were victims of violence. Women in the community of Rio Blanco began working as promoters for women’s issues and the women’s office began later that same year with the help of seven women who formed the first board of directors. The organization initially did not have a facility. They rented their first facility and after two months changed locations to Rio Blanco but continued working with the same mission.
The office has a focus on women who are victims of interfamily violence. Their general objective is to form and train the women in search of their conjugal conflicts and societal conflicts, in the area of violence, reproductive health, and the economy. One of their main programs is to accompany women who are victims of domestic violence to the Matagalpa police station. There is one woman there who takes care of most of these cases and provides advice and counseling for the victims. Currently, 8 primary women attend to the center while some 18 volunteer support the organization in less active roles. Their mission according to one member is as follows, “We are a group of voluntary women without financing, without discrimination based on ethnicity, beliefs, politics, or class, that work to educate adult and adolescent women on all types of violence and how to care for her reproductive health, in response to the strategic needs of women and promoting economic projects in order to satisfy the basic needs of the family.” The organization itself is connected to several different communities within the municipality including German Pomares, Martin Centeno, David Tejada, and others. All of the women are volunteers and many have other jobs in addition to home life and work in the office. They observe International women’s Day on March 8th, Mother’s Day on May 30, and International Day Without Violence Towards Women and Children on November 25th. They coordinate with the Network of Women of Matagalpa, the Network of Women Against Violence, and the Network of Women of the North.
According to one woman from the collective, future goals of the office are, “To be a group of women that even without financial rewards for labor are able to be economically self sustainable even independent of the contributions of solidarity of other groups, institution and individual. We would like to offer a better and more expanded service to the municipality of Rio Blanco and its regions. This group will work in a horizontal way through the creation of work commissions which increases democratic participation and co-responsibility of all its members.”
La Corriente came into being at the end of 1993 with the goal of contributing to the strengthening of the women’s movement in Central America through research, analysis, and debate on the situation of women in Central America, in the specific social, cultural, economic, and political context of the region. For the last 10 years, La Corriente has done diverse research and publications, as well as organized national, regional, and international meetings of great importance in the process of building the women’s feminist movement. It is made up of women from four Central American countries.
Currently, La Corriente has been participating in diverse initiatives of the women’s feminist movement in these countries and has also been continuing previous efforts of research and feminist debate, including: processes of building the women’s movement in Central America, the participation of women in local spaces, proposals for equal opportunity laws, and analysis of the relationship of the movement to the government.
Maria Teresa Blandón
The Feminist Collective La Malinche began in 1992 with the goal of contributing to the construction and strengthening of the women’s movement in Nicaragua. It is made up of feminists who participate in the movement in a variety of other ways. During the last 11 years, La Malinche has promoted multiple initiatives of coordination and leadership in the women’s feminist movement, and has invested great effort in the generation of new knowledge through the organization of national and local meetings, training activities, and particularly through the creation and maintenance of the Feminist Library, which serves a wide range of diverse people. Currently, La Malinche is concluding a feminist training cycle with young women from diverse regions of the country, updating the Feminist Library, and participating in the development of a plan for the defense of sexual and reproductive rights with an emphasis in the defense of abortion rights.
Maria Teresa Blandón
" to promote a space where women can find a job. Work yes, but with dignity.”
The Maria Elena Cuadra Women’s Movement (MEC) is located in both Managua and León and began its work in May 1994. According to one members, “It is a broad, autonomous, pluralist, non for profit movement of women which works for the full and equal participation of women in Nicaraguan society, in accordance with the universal principles of equality, liberty, and social justice.” Its objectives are as follows:
To contribute to building the capacity of women in vulnerable situations to defend their human rights (including their sexual and reproductive rights) and develop their ability to confront the problems they face.
To contribute to strengthening the ability to exercise their socio-economic rights of women with scarce resources through advocacy and lobbying for public policies which promote labor opportunities that enable economic independence.
To contribute to raising the profile of the Central American Network of Women in solidarity with Maquila Workers (REDMAQ) and other regional networks which MEC is a member through strengthening MEC as an organization and developing the skills, abilities, personnel and structures of the movement.
On May 7th, 1994 the movement took the issue of promoting development to the national level. They developed work around sweatshops and received support from a group of women from Hamburg Germany. Since April 2000, MEC has partnered with One World Action to benefit their Women Worker’s Rights program. MEC is also a member of One World Action’s Closing the Gap program which is a three year program developed to lessen the gap between policy and practice on issues such as gender, development and worker’s rights. MEC’s program achievements include things such as expanding to 5 departments with about 1800 women total, participation in the 4th Women’s Working Congress, promotion of the Labor Code developed by many women workers in Nicaragua, and ongoing training for women about their labor rights as well as follow up when these rights are not respected in the workplace. MEC developed a campaign called “Empleo Sí, pero con dignidad” (Employment yes, but with dignity) to continue to raise awareness on the problems and conditions that women workers face and the need for political action on those specific issues. (16) In 1999 they obtained funding from International Medics to develop health development program in El Tanque.
El Tanque is located outside of León. This community was built in 1998 out of communities that were destroyed by Hurricane Mitch. 200 families left a refugee camp and took over the land. 167 families were given a house and 1.7 acres of land. The land is 850 acres total. Some of that land was allotted to families and some allotted to the collective. The land was originally owned by a man who sided with Somoza and was taken by Sandinista government. The167th house was finished January 2000 and a large inauguration ceremony was held which President Alemán attended. Alemán promised to give people the titles but never followed through.
El Tanque currently has a population of about 1000 people. The main goal of the community over the last six years or so has been creating a sense of belonging and identity for people of several different communities who are trying to build a new community together. Current projects in El Tanque include: working on cooperation between families, a community psychology program that works with children and victims of domestic violence, a community health program for training health promoters, a gallery project which creates a place to honor the dead with pictures and inauguration photos, a boys and girls youth program that meets one night a week, an organic farming program to revive the land that was saturated with chemicals when the refugees moved in, a reforestation project, a nursery project, a sewing project, and adult education classes with the training of 17 teachers so far.
(16) La Boletina No. 47 Mujeres Campesinas:pilar de la economia nacional (June-August 2001) pg. 14/18
Directors: Sandra Ramos Lopez/Daysi Reyes Morales
Movimiento de Mujeres
Trabajadoras y Desempleadas Maria Elena Cuadra
Semaforos Asamblea Nacional
1 y media cuadra abajo
Phone: (505) 222-5393
Fax: (505) 222-2601
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
" You all know that in the struggle, hope is the last thing that you lose. As they say faith moves mountains.”
The Nueva Vida Women’s Cooperative formed 1998 as a result of Hurricane Mitch. A wave of people came to Nueva Vida from Ciudad Sandino as refugees who had lost their homes and communities due to Mitch. The community had actually been planned before Mitch because people were living on valuable business land near Lake Managua and the government wanted the people off the land. The hurricane Mitch sped up this process. Nueva Vida is the largest and newest refugee community and there is some rivalry with neighboring communities.
The Women’s Sewing Co-op in the community of Nueva Vida is part of the larger co-op and was developed by a group of women. 10 women came from each of five neighborhoods within Nueva Vida but many dropped out because they began to lose hope. The co-op received some sewing machines and were then trained how to use them. They had six months of sewing classes after receiving the machines, using one blackboard that was donated to them by the Jubilee House as well as some help from a few of the house members. They began with $3,000 total funding for this project and were able to buy land for their facility. There was a lot of doubt at the beginning of this endeavor as to whether it would be successful or not. In fact some women even lost their husbands or boyfriends because they didn’t believe in the project. These women however showed incredible strength and perseverance as they built the facility themselves and got the co-op up and running.
Once the sewing co-op was up and running, their first project was
making hair scrunchies and organic products. They were aided
by an American
woman who owns
Maggie’s Clean Clothes. The cooperative has flourished since its
beginning. With twelve full time members, they have been able to give work
to 140 families
at $45-$50 Cordova daily rate. When they have a large order they can have
up to 45 people working in each of two shifts.
Future Projects of the co-op include receiving larger orders and the continued search for local cloth. They would like to pay a deposit of $10,000 with the government to be officially recognized as a Fair Trade Zone. They would also like to sell some products in Nicaragua and have considered taking out a loan and opening a shop.
Director/Supporters: Center for Development in Central America
(Jubilee House Committee) and Maggie’s Clean Clothes
Contact Information: (to contact or place and order)
US Address-Center for Development in Central America
Jubilee House Community, Inc.
C/O Peggy Murdock
352 Carly LN
Rock Hill, SC 29732-7750
OR-2425 Spicewood Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27106-9768
US Phone: 1-828-251-4409
Airmail to Nicaragua:
Contiguo Hacienda Masali
De km. 11 Carr. Nueva a Leon, 1.6 km. Abajo
Ciudad Sandino, Managua, Nicaragua
" We feel that credit really gives women a window for growth and development.”
FODEM began as part of Cenzotle in 1989. Their collective goal was to challenge gender roles through feminism, a vision of empowerment, economics and citizen participation. Up to this point, the women’s movement as a whole, had been focused primarily on social issues of gender and not economic ones. Cenzotle came out of a need to address some of those economic issues. More specifically, the credit program within Cenzotle had developed a need to become more specialized in the financial component while still maintaining a holistic approach. The organization began with four basic programs in the areas of credit, citizen participation, business development and education and worked with both men and women. The credit program was born from a desire to help women in Nicaragua economically, but with little knowledge of economics.
On October 19th 2000, with help from the United Nations and the Dutch Assistance Agency, the credit program obtained legal and institutional separation from Cenzotle and became its own organization called FODEM. Each of the two newly separated organizations then developed their own strategic plans for the future. FODEM’s first priority became consolidation to a more specialized microfinance organization with a gender perspective. They strived to combine the theoretical ideas of gender with practical applications in real women’s lives. In 1993 FODEM made the decision to work exclusively with women except for the credit program, which continued to work with a small group of men.
FODEM’s key challenge over the years has been to maintain a holistic vision, of not only supporting women economically but understanding that these economic needs are a result of social and political needs as well. FODEM has created the Women’s Development Fund, which provides financial services specifically to women. Although they are not yet permitted to provide savings services, FODEM hopes that one day they will be able to do so. FODEM works in conjunction with a professional guild for microfinance, a coordinating group of women, a gender commission and a network of microfinance institutions to aid in the process of raising awareness about gender issues and economics. A woman from the organization explained, “We really feel that credit gives women a window to their own financial access.” She went on to discuss how FODEM helps women achieve goals such as broadening their business, increasing resources, expanding inventory, increasing their incomes and, as a result, helps women raise their overall self esteem. FODEM has 1,925 clients (as of June 2003); 4% of those are men, 75% of their clients are in the commercial or industrial sections of the workforce, working in both production and service industries. FODEM supports entrepreneurs with small stores, eating establishments, and street vendors. These women have jobs such as owning small stores that sell clothing and shoes, in streets selling their wares, as seamstresses, and in production of things like tortillas, metal pots and pans and crafts like pottery.
FODEM teaches women to achieve economic self sustainability so that they can help themselves in other areas such as health. A member of FODEM explains that women have to work hard to earn the credit and really learn to be independent. She says, “I think that empowerment means that women have to make efforts as well. It’s not simply given as a gift to them and the same is true for the businesses themselves. We have to be competitive and continue to become more efficient.” FODEM has successfully incorporated gender into microfinance by raising awareness and creating a greater opportunities for women.
Director: Maria Auxiliadora Vanegas
Maria Auxiliadora Vanegas Perez-Directora
Ciudad Jardin casa E-26. Apdp. Postal A-82
Telefono: (505) 249-6539
Fax: (505) 249-1524
FEMUPROCAN is an organization located in Managua that has been working since the 1980’s to organize collectives and resolve situations among collectives. The organization began in 1984 with a group of seven women who submitted a proposal. By 1997, 4,380 members in ten departments of the country had organized 1000 base cooperatives. In November1997, the rural producers established themselves as a farming and agriculture federation. By March of that same year, the organization had obtained legal jurisdiction. One member stated in a recent article of La Boletina, “before we were timid, we were afraid to speak in public but we have experienced great personal growth and are clear on what are our rights as women and producers.” (17)
The goals of FEMUPROCAN as an organization include things such as contributing to the empowerment of rural Nicaraguan women and developing leadership and organizational training on the local and national levels to promote economic politics that best benefit all women producers in rural Nicaragua. One member explained, “We are an Organization of women farmers and agricultural producers: democratic, egalitarian, with social justice and the spirit of dialog and mutual respect among partners” (18)
FEMUPROCAN has a presence in ten departments and 40 municipalities and provides a number of different services to the women living there. Current Projects of the organization include workshops on gender and autonomy, technical training, capability, leadership, gender, marketing, cooperative learning, planning, and monitoring, credit and advocacy training on national/state levels as well as facilitated credit to women for productive projects. The production program was part of re-organization and has benefited many women through aid to their businesses. They have developed a literacy campaign with the goal that every woman in the program will at least finish third grade. In addition to these basic services that FEMUPROCAN provides, they also coordinate The Women’s Connection Committee (El Comité Enlace de la Mujer), which is comprised of several different organizations similar to FEMUPROCAN. They are constituents of the The Institutional Commission of Women and Rural Development (Comisión Institucional de Mujer y Desarrollo Rural, CMYDR) and also part of Part of UNAG (Union Nacional de Agricultores y Ganaderos). Marta Heriberta Valle, president of FEMUPROCAN speaks optimistically about the future of the program for Nicaraguan women: “And a day will come when we are able to say with pride that in FEMUPROCAN all partners know how to read and write. I say this because the women producers are able to make things by themselves that are difficult and we require distinct instruments of support and distinct partners in order to overcome obstacles that we are confronted with.” (19)
(17) La Boletina No 50 Mujeres y La Pobreza: Como
La Vivimos y Como La Superamos (Feb/April 2002) pg. 86
(18) La Boletina No. 50 Mujeres y Pobreza: como la vivimos y comos la Superamos (Feb/April 2002) pg. 88 also, Asamblea IV Aniversario FEMUPROCAN (WCCN Library)
(19) La Boletina No. 52 Mujeres Rurales: Propiedad y Poder (August/Dec. 2002) pg. 95
Directors: Marta Heriberta Valle (president),
Maria Teresa Fernandez (Executive Coordinator)
Residencial Bolonia; de la Optica
Calle El Nogal Nicaraguense 3 cuadras arriba 1 1/2 al sur
Casa No. 14
Telefax: (505) 266-8478
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com