Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Friday, August 10, 2012

¿Feminista o Mujerista?: AHMEN Investing in Women

Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

I always love reading comments on the blog. Some contain words of encouragement, and some are reflections on AHMEN as an organization. Others, like the one left on a post from a few weeks back, pertain directly to serious issues at hand. After reading “Mariposa'sMiracle” an individual posed the question “Where were the adult males?”

Answering this question is tricky. We asked this same question back in 1999 when AHMEN's first medical clinics were filled with women and children of all ages but very few men. On the “De La Montaña Al Mar” team we noticed the same lack of male presence everywhere we went. In the hotels where we stayed, in the restaurants where we ate, in the clinics and classrooms, etc. Many say the men are off working in the fields. Some say they are out drinking. Many work abroad; even still, many are trapped in the growing illegal drug trade devastating Honduras. There is probably no single answer as to where the Catrachos are except....not with the women!

While visiting Telares El Cacao the “De La Montaña Al Mar” team met a group of women running a sewing business in the mountains above La Esperanza. When we asked the women working whether men wanted to sew also, they told us that they couldn't rely on men to provide for them or work for them. “Men prefer to work in the fields, but they don't like to share their earnings.” In order to care for their families, these women started and have successfully managed a business.

Telares El Cacao

While visiting the La Ceiba Dump to share Ezekiel Nichols' plans to establish a series of microenterprises there, the vast majority of individuals we came in contact with were female. Ezekiel did not send us to find groups of women to form the basis of the Dump cooperative. It's just that no adult males came around to see what we were doing there. Now there are 30 women working to set up their own small businesses and work their way out of poverty.

The Beginning of Something Great

I would like to act like the visible absence of males in Honduran females' lives is some complicated issue, but the fact remains that machismo, or a very public show of a sexist masculinity, runs rampant throughout Honduran society. Chauvinism characterizes most societies. AHMEN and other volunteer groups in Honduras, however, must pay serious attention when this über-masculinity is coupled with one of the highest rates of femicide in the world. What we have been noticing … what we see everywhere we go … shapes our mission.

Women Protesting During the Political Instability of 2009

If you are thinking that this liberal Christian ecofeminist is trying to brainwash you, just think about the projects in Honduras most near and dear to your heart. We know some really genuine, very loving and giving Hondureños, but las mujeres are holding the country's seams together. AHMEN aims to help all Hondurans live better lives. Nonetheless, women and children around the world disproportionately suffer from higher rates of poverty, preventable disease, violence, undereducation, and climate change. As an organization working to improve the living conditions of an entire country, then, we must acknowledge that our activism will mostly center around women's issues.

Midwifery Classes in Ciriboya

AHMEN must continue to further the idea that sexual hierarchy has no place in the world's future by actively opening up the empowerment process to Hondureñas.

Mariana and Company
Mariana must be able to realize her dream of nurturing the exceptional population around Plan de Flores.  The ladies of Shalom must be able to fly away out from under Suyapa's wing and begin to provide for future generations of at-risk Catrachas.   The Children of Utila, both the boys and girls, must be able to attend school and learn to build the just future necessary for progress.

Centro Educación Básica República de Honduras in Utila
The thousands of children we all see each time we visit Honduras must know their mothers deserve to be more than just their fathers' punching bags. As AHMEN shapes its advocacy to become more appropriate and effective, we must acknowledge the various ways gender issues permeate our activism.

Contact me today about how to be a part of meaningful change in Honduras.
Together, we are the difference.

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