Grassroots International has the privilege of working with some very courageous women working on the frontlines of human rights defense. One such woman is Yasmín López, a national coordinator for the Council for the Integral Development of the Peasant Woman (CODIMCA). A partner of Grassroots International, CODIMCA is the lead organization for the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, and one of the first women-led peasant organizations formed in Honduras with the explicit objective of reclaiming women’s land rights.
Grassroots recently helped bring Yasmin to participate in the United Methodist Women’s (UMW) delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Below is a blog Mary Beth Coudal of the UMW on Yasmin and her impressions of the CSW.
Nineteen international United Methodist Women delegates join ecumenical women at the Church Center for the United Nations to make a positive difference in the world, sharing stories and strategies to implement the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals.
Every March, I can’t wait to meet the hundreds of amazing women who share their stories and advocacy strategies as part of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Many of the women gather to learn from one another in the meeting rooms of the Church Center for the United Nations, owned by United Methodist Women.
The global women never fail to inspire me. Take Yasmin Beczabeth Lopez, 29, of Via Campesina, an international peasant movement. She’s been working for human rights since she was at her mother’s knee at the age of five in Honduras.
At the pre-conference briefing on March 11, 2016, among the 19 women of the United Methodist Women delegation, Ms. Lopez shared her story and life challenges — orphaned at a young age, struggled to obtain an education, committed to support her younger brothers quest to attend school. The other delegates, she reported, “listened with unconditional love.” She said, “I felt heard.”
Listening and sharing with the delegation, Elena Melnikova, a delegate and president of United Methodist Women in Russia, agreed, “I was amazed we had a personal story that turned into a national story that became a global issue.”
At the orientation, Ms. Lopez discussed income inequality with the United Methodist Women group, asking each other, “Who has the power? Who are the winners? Who are the losers?”
Ms. Melnikova reported that she is “passionate” about implementing the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in her country. She looks forward to reporting back to the United Nations on her work. “The feedback comes from the grassroots to the United Nations, not the United Nations to the grassroots.” Ms. Melnikova enjoyed sharing with many Christian women faith groups at the Ecumenical Women day on March 12, 2016.
In a chat with the help of an ecumenical woman interpreter, Eliza Perez Trejo, 19, from Mexico, I asked Ms. Lopez about her passion for education. She said that children, “must start at a young age, learning about human rights, not only in the United States but around the world.”
Yvette Richards, president of United Methodist Women and a member of the United Methodist Women delegation, was impressed by the grace and integrity of the international community – the ecumenical women as well as the United Methodist Women delegates. “The women are proud of who they are; they do not need to be validated. At the orientation, it all came together. The work we are doing is beyond measure. In terms of the SDGs, all of the women are responding. Collectively, we support them. We do what works. We learn from each other.”
Originally published at http://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/csw.