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Karim Rivera is a manager of the Psychotherapy Department at  Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (CEDEHM). She is a delegate of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women and  participated in the International NGO Mentoring Program as well as the 2nd Summit of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women. She is also a featured blogger for our participation in the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

It is well known around the world that Chihuahua, Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for women. It has what is probably the highest murder rate of women in the world, with 34.73 murders per 100,000 women[1].

We currently face two distinct and undeniable realities: an oppressive patriarchy permeates our community, and the amazing fact that women are a force of multipliers. The biggest obstacle that we have encountered is the same as in virtually all countries: patriarchy.  Patriarchy has been a huge weight on the shoulders of women, so heavy that it makes it difficult for women to reach their potential. It infiltrates every corner of society, limiting women from exercising their rights. It is because of oppressive patriarchy that women do not dare to speak, it is because of crippling gender stereotypes that women cannot end violent relationships. Even the poverty that makes women economically dependent is a product of gender roles.

One of the most painful results of patriarchy is domestic and sexual violence against women. The best antidote we know against gender based violence is a profound change in mentality.

Here in Chihuahua, we believe that the best way to stop femicide is through prevention and that the best way to reverse women’s vulnerability is through empowerment.

The Women’s Human Rights Center is at the vanguard of empowerment programs in Mexico. We empower women through workshops in which they learn their rights and how to exercise them, and through reflection groups in which they question patriarchy and work to deconstruct the gender roles that make them prone to violence. Through these empowerment programs, we sow the seeds of change in society; we help women eradicate violence in their families. There is a collective benefit when these women share their knowledge in their communities, freeing other women from domestic violence. Our empowerment program model has been so successful that it has been reproduced by government agencies.

When an investment is made in one single woman, she will then invest in her family and community. It is like a rapid contagion: when a woman learns about her rights and how to exercise them, soon her children, neighbors, co-workers and community will also learn their rights. Investing in a single woman has an impressive scope, and that is exactly what the Centro de Derechos Humanos de las MujeresCEDEHM (Woman’s Human Rights Center) in Chihuahua does.

Learn more about our organization and help us support the empowerment of women to change the world.

[1] Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia. Mortality Statistics, 2000-2010.