CoDev partner, MEC Recognised for Outstanding Work
The Nicaraguan women’s movement, MEC was selected by the BC Council for International Cooperation to receive the 2013 International Award of Leadership recognising leadership, collaboration, and innovation in their field. MEC’s Legal Clinic coordinator, Johana Arce travelled to BC in September to accept the award and to meet with CoDev partners and BCCIC members.
Johana’s inspiring presentation brought people to their feet in Nanaimo, Kamloops and at several venues in Vancouver. MEC has changed the lives of thousands of women through direct support of individuals whose rights are violated; and through their success in pushing for new laws that better protect women’s human rights. She spoke about the overarching theme of violence in Nicaragua and how women suffer, both in the workplace and at home. The Law Prohibiting Violence Against Women – passed in January 2012 following an intense campaign led by MEC – spells out and condemns all forms of violence against women, more than 800 of whom have been murdered in the past decade in that country. Unfortunately, there are legal challenges to the law and attempts to introduce a mediation clause which would force a victimized woman to negotiate with her aggressor – an activity that MEC says women do every day in an attempt to stop the violence and protect their families. Forcing women who find the courage to bring charges against their aggressors to then go through mediation is tantamount to creating a waiting room for further femicides. MEC is clear that mediation cannot work where there is a power imbalance, such as that represented by women who suffer in violent intimate relationships. Opponents of the law say that it will destroy Nicaraguan families. Johana was clear, “It is violence that is destroying Nicaraguan families, not this law.”
As part of BCCIC’s program to promote and explore best practices in international development, they produced a short video on gender equality and equity which features Johana from MEC, Gloria Ceron of ORMUSA (an Oxfam partner from El Salvador) and several BCCIC members. You can watch that video on their home page (bccic.ca).
MEC’s Canadian partners are BCGEU, Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, CUPE BC, CUPE National, and the United Nurses of Alberta. CIDA funds supported MEC’s work for more than 15 years until CIDA stopped funding CoDev in March 2013.