Viva las mujeres centroamericanas! Viva!

Long live Central American women!

CoDev’s Executive Director, Barbara Wood is leading a delegation of Canadian Partners to Nicaragua and Honduras to meet with the women’s organization partners that work in the Maquila or sweatshop sector. She writes from Nicaragua.

On March 2 our delegation was privileged to be present at the annual forum organized by MEC, the Maria Elena Cuadra Movement of Working and Unemployed Women. This forum brings together women maquila (or sweatshop factory) workers from all over the country as well as Central America. This year their focus was the official presentation of the Women’s Agenda for Labour Rights for Maquila Workers in Central America that MEC and the six other women’s organizations in Central America constructed together.

1,000 women sat with pride as the Women’s Economic Agenda was formally presented to government, ILO and other officials. Their pride was rooted in their direct participation creating the agenda, a two year process that involved more than 4,000 working women in the four Central American countries bringing together their concerns and ideas into concrete proposals in the areas of labour rights, occupational health and safety and reproductive health and sexuality.

Being in the room with these 1,000 women was exhilarating. The women were thrilled to be at the formal presentation of the agenda that they helped to create, despite the fact that for most maquila workers this was their one day off of work for the week. Cheers went up throughout the day and when a band began playing after lunch they were up dancing, celebrating their achievement.

MEC founder and Director, Sandra Ramos recognized the importance of international solidarity in their achievements taking to specially thank Jim Rader, Program Director of CoDevelopment in the early 1990s when MEC was starting. Jim recognised the important work that MEC wanted to undertake and brought together CUPE BC to work with CoDev and MEC in partnership.

It was a proud moment for all of the CoDev tour delegates and one that will inspire us all for many years to come.

Members of the Maquila tour are:

  • Susan Blair, General Vice-President, CUPE BC
  • Dianne Frittenburg, CUPE National Women’s Committee
  • Joelle Ravary, CUPE National Women’s Committee
  • Andrea Duncan, Chairperson Community Social Services Component, BCGEU
  • Lynn Bueckert, Director, Research, Campaigns and Communications, BCGEU
  • Ken Curry, CoDev Board Member
  • Josh Berson, CoDev Board Member
  • David Noble, CoDev member and members’ draw winner

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