In the past 20 years, there have been many significant setbacks to the individual and collective rights of women in Central America. Violence in the region has continued to grow, and it contributes to a social system that normalizes, promotes, justifies, and reinforces the dominance, exploitation, oppression, and discrimination of people –women primarily– and the environment.
Central American society maintains a patriarchal system rooted in power relations defined by gender, age, sexual orientation, and identity; ethnicity, skin color, physical, and mental abilities; nationality, social class, whether one lives in an urban or rural area, level of education, and religion. This unjustly confers a superior status to some people with certain traits.
These power relations are found at all levels: between individual people, in a community, and in social institutions, generating violence, destruction, and death – not only for people, but also for the environment.
Our goal is the transformation of the patriarchal system. In order for the system to change, we must change and transform relations of dominance into relations of collaboration, solidarity, equality and equity, particularly between genders.
Transforming relations of power and dominance is a complex matter. However, there are factors that can contribute to making this change possible. As a society, we need to become uncomfortable with the system and begin to question it. We also need to promote and support changes in individual and collective attitudes and behaviors as well as mobilize ourselves in order to influence, put pressure on, and induce change in different institutions so as to bring about changes in public policy.
A key stakeholder for pushing these actions forward are the women’s and feminist movements in Central America as well as the groups, organizations, and institutions that form them. For this reason, as FCAM we direct our efforts to strengthening the movements and making them more sustainable.
We believe that organizations of all sizes have a key role to play inside the women’s and feminist movements. In this sense, community-based groups are vital because they work at a local level, which makes them the lungs of the movements, despite the fact that their work often goes unnoticed. In general, these groups have very little access to funds and support and need to associate themselves with other more well-established organizations at the national and international level. That’s why FCAM supports numerous small, local initiatives and promotes the exchange of ideas and links between them and other organizations in the movement.
Recognition for community-based groups within the women’s and feminist movements is fundamental, as is the appreciation for diversity and differences. Diversity and differences are catalysts for social change and open up new possibilities and perspectives.