Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

From Discovery to Dissidence: Honduran Women's Conceptions and Claims of Human Rights

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

From Discovery to Dissidence: Honduran Women's Conceptions and Claims of Human Rights

Article excerpt

Abstract (2)

In recognition of the profound benefits of women's engagement with their rights, this article presents an experiential account of how Honduran women comprehend, articulate, experience and advocate human rights and gender equality through nongovernmental educational initiatives. Through the triangulated analytic among human security, post-victimization and citizen-based advocacy approaches, the article traces the women's journeys from their moments of discovery of human rights towards instances of dissidence. In so doing, the women's demonstrations of empowerment, agency, resistance and solidarity are brought to the fore. By featuring their voices, this study demonstrates how Honduran women are able to shape their own expectations and experiences of human rights. This study further emphasizes how a supportive and interactive educational introduction to the conventions, declarations and constitutions intended to promote and safeguard human rights, as well as an opportunity to dialogue safely and creatively about those rights can open up incredible possibilities for self-realization, liberation, ambition and innovation among women.

Keywords: rights, grassroots education, empowerment, agency, solidarity, dissidence, Honduras.

Introduction

"Without these workshops, I would not have been awakened. I feel more human."

--Workshop Participant from 2005-2008

In recognition of the life-changing advantages of women's own engagement with their rights, this article presents an experiential account of how Honduran women understand, experience and advocate their human rights through non-governmental educational initiatives. Through the women's own voices, the article traces the women's journeys from their moments of discovery of human rights, through their discernment and towards instances of dissidence.

The article begins with an overview of the human rights workshops in which the women participated. Then I present the multi-layered analytic among the human security, post-victimization and citizen-based advocacy approaches employed to examine the women's pro-human rights journeys. After outlining the methodological approach, I briefly explore the women's experiences with violence within the context of Honduran patriarchal society. Then I analyze the women's own journeys of discovery and dissidence in relation to human rights through the conceptual lenses of empowerment, solidarity, agency, resistance and resourcefulness. In so doing, this article sheds light on the actions that the women have undertaken in pursuit of their human rights.

Context of the Study on Women's Human Rights in Honduras

The participants in this study (3) took part in a series of human rights workshops that were based out of a community education centre in a town (4) in north central Honduras between 2005 and 2008. The workshops were initiated by a small group of local Honduran women who sought the cooperation of human rights research and advocacy groups in the region. The curriculum and activities were set by the women, with the women and for the women. Thus, both the content and the processes of the workshops were established in an inclusive and empowering manner. The original workshops in 2005 were led by Honduran professionals and volunteers with expertise in human rights, law, health, education and psychology. The workshops held between 2006 and 2008 were also carried out by several of the women who were trained as leaders in the original workshops. The trainees replicated the workshops in seven urban and rural neighborhoods with schedules ranging from weekly to bi-monthly gatherings.

The workshops aimed to raise awareness about, and encourage engagement with women's human rights. The workshop modules addressed domestic, street and political violence, human rights, gender equality, health and labor rights, self-esteem, access to justice, community resources, globalization, as well as legal instruments, declarations (5) and conventions. …

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