Governance, civil society and Peace-Building
Natural Resources, including land rights
In 2020, Misean Cara provided funding for 40 human rights projects by 23 members in 25 countries reaching 289,787 people.
Building a world of justice and resilience means fixing inequalities, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening institutions and tackling human rights violations. Our members address these issues through advocacy at the grassroots, national and international levels, focusing on upholding rights, raising awareness and contributing to a culture of rights and social accountability. There are many project-specific examples of how our members have done this throughout 2020.
- At the grassroots level, project teams have conducted anti-bullying and social justice initiatives that advance human rights and environmental issues in school communities across Latin America; promote empowerment and self-management of human rights defenders, particularly indigenous women, in Colombia; and promote peace and reconciliation in communities badly affected by conflict in northern Nigeria.
- At the regional and national level, our members have contributed to the successful signing into law of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and helped secure an increased budget allocation to fund the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Committee in Bauchi State (Nigeria); built and strengthened networks of civil society organisations across Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Uruguay to advance social justice and human rights; and launched a publication on community-based best practice to prevent human trafficking in India.
- At the international level, several members, including the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto), the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Franciscans International, interact with UN structures in Geneva and New York, ensuring the voices of the communities they serve are heard and considered at the highest levels. The Franciscans International, for example, brought UN expert attention to the human rights impacts of the war on drugs in the Philippines, and successfully advocated for the inclusion of ritual infanticide in the Criminal Code of Benin.
In 2020, the effect of COVID-19 has been felt strongly in the area of human rights. Groups such as refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other forcibly displaced populations became especially vulnerable to human rights violations during the pandemic, as have informal workers, out-of-school students (especially girls) and people with disabilities. These are among the groups that our members targeted for extra support in 2020, whether through existing or new projects.
“For Warmi Huasi it has always been important to generate safe and violence-free spaces in the community for children and adolescents. We want to make parents and family members aware of the importance of not only protecting but also of listening to children, that their voice be heard.”
- Judith, Local Coordinator of Warmi Huasi
Empowering children and adolescents at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic
The township of San Benito, in the foothills of the Andes on the north side of Lima, Peru, is home to 12,000 people, many of whom live in chronic poverty. San Benito is also home to a small association called Warmi Hausi (“Women’s House”, in the indigenous Quechua language of the region), that works to support local families in situations of poverty, and children and adolescents at risk.
Since its founding by the Columban Fathers in 2005 to reach those furthest behind, Warmi Hausi has set up safe places for children to play and do homework after school, organised a popular weekend reading club, established a therapy club to help children overcome speech problems, and set up support systems for mothers.
With the arrival of COVID-19 family and community stress have been on the rise during lockdown. Children in the Carabayllo District that includes San Benito, experienced an increase in violence inside and outside the home, as well as mental health struggles related to managing fears and emotions about the pandemic. In 2020, data from the national Women’s Emergency Centres showed that in Carabayllo, violence against children under 17 represented over 60% of all cases reported in the community, with over 60% of those cases, in turn involving violence against girls.
Empowering and protecting children during the pandemic was a focus for coordinators at Warmi Hausi. The two psychologists in the team accompanied the children and their families with interactive materials to bring the family together and with check ins to those children and families in need of extra support. They also looked for ways to involve the children in active citizenship and to keep the local government involved in responding to their rights. Nearly 50% of children over fifteen reported feeling fearful during the pandemic and 29% reported that their parents had lost work. Coordinators with the adolescents’ advisory council helped the children bring that survey information forward to the local government and civil society actors to make sure that children’s voices, and their issues, were being heard.
With the success of the online survey, Warmi Hausi coordinators helped the children form a network of adolescent groups in Carabayllo, where the children have kept their initiatives active through social media platforms. They also met over Zoom to reflect on different issues facing them in lockdown, including who to call and what to do when faced with violence inside or outside the home and to discuss the difficulties of life in quarantine, and how to get help managing mental health, anger, and anxiety.