The following post was originally published by the Public Health Institute on August 14, 2018.
Click here to see the original post by Lauren Claassen, Public Health Institute.
PHI’s Rise Up is committed to activating women, girls, and their allies to drive exponential change by strengthening leadership, investing in local solutions, and building movements – one community at a time, one country at a time. In March, with the support of Cummins Powers Women, Rise Up led a Leadership Accelerator Program in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, where 18 social entrepreneurs from across the state participated in a week long workshop built around Rise Up’s award-winning curriculum.
“All of the attendees are already interested in the education, health, and rights of women and girls – but often their work is so siloed that they were getting to know each other for the first time in the workshop,” said Josie Ramos, the Director of Programs for Rise Up. “It was an opportunity for them to build new alliances and begin to collaborate.”
Over the course of the week, the fellows learned to use advanced advocacy strategies to create large-scale social change. Public policy has the power to either perpetuate or eliminate inequities faced by women and girls – and so finding the right policy to support, challenge, or strengthen at the right time, in the right place, can have an enormous impact.
The workshop’s curriculum provided information on situational and SWOT analysis, media tools and strategic communication, and capacity building – everything that fellows would need to pursue their advocacy objectives – except of course, the ‘magic-bullet’ solution.
“We are very participant-centered and we don’t come with answers,” said Ramos. “Our fellows are the ones doing the work. They are the ones who know the best solution or way to approach their issues. Our role is to share advocacy strategies, build relationships, and connect our fellows with as many continuing opportunities as we can.”
After the workshop, participants were invited to apply for grants to support advocacy initiatives they had created over the course of the week. Rise Up selected seven projects, and each grantee will receive funding and be paired with a mentor from Cummins Inc. to continue to build their skills throughout the year.
“We were very impressed with the diversity of the advocacy projects,” said Ramos. “Our fellows are each primed to tackle issues facing women and girls with a unique lens, approach, and target population in mind, and each has the potential to create lasting change.”
Here’s what they’ll be working on:
INCREASING WOMEN’S RIGHTS
- By working to incorporate a gender lens into the existing Law on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, Alejandra Garcia Muñiz of Juntos, Una Experiencia Compartida is working to create public policies that promote the inclusion of women with disabilities.
- Although single mothers in San Luis Potosí are eligible for government subsidies, a lack of awareness and a cumbersome application process prevent nearly 200,000 women from accessing benefits. Grantee Blanca Estela Gardea of the Comité Ciudadano Unificador de Esfuerzos will be working with the State Family Welfare System to advocate for specific changes to simplify the application processes and more effectively promote the program.
- While male prisoners have access to education services, carpentry workshops and sports programs, female prisoners have no such programming. Marcela Garcia Vazquez of Nueva Luna is working to design and implement technical training courses and prison-to-work programs for female prisoners to support their economic empowerment and guarantee employment opportunities when they leave prison.
IMPROVING TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
- In San Luis Potosí, transgender women aren’t legally permitted to obtain a valid ID with their preferred name and gender marker, which prevents them from enrolling in higher education, getting a driver’s license, or registering to vote. Alongside transgender women, Andres Costilla Castro of Amigos Potosinos in the Fight against AIDS will push for a new congressional bill that would amend the civil and family codes to allow transgender people to change their name and gender on state documents.
PREVENTING VIOLENCE AND EXPANDING EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
- There is no comprehensive legislation that protects children in Mexico from violence, and even if there was, young people are often unsure of how to advocate for their own safety or report violence to authorities. Esmeralda Ramos Rodriguez of Ciudadanos Empoderados en Movimiento (CEMAC) will be working to add language to the General Law of Education that would include lessons on basic human rights as a part of the standard education curriculum in schools. CEMAC will then work closely with a variety of stakeholders including teachers, parents, state authorities and young people to implement the newly mandated human rights curriculum into all 36,345 schools across the state, impacting over 1.6 million students.
- Gender-based violence is also a daunting problem in San Luis Potosí. Ricardo Preciado Jimenez of Animos Novandi is launching a project to address violence against women by educating the next generation of men – boys in school. Animos Novandi will work with the Ministry of Education to design and approve a “new masculinities” curriculum to be taught to over 9,000 students in public 5th-grade classrooms.
INCREASING WOMEN’S POLITICAL REPRESENTATION
- Yair Govea Valladares is working to get more women into politics, where they are currently significantly underrepresented. Santa María de Lourdes will work to reform Article 8 of the Organic Law of the Public Administration of the State, which currently states that the Governor should only consider nominating women when appointing leaders in his Executive Branch. This project will work to make it mandatory for the state’s Cabinet and Executive Branch to be composed of half women and half men.
Rise Up is based at the Public Health Institute (PHI), a leader in public health and development for over 50 years. PHI is Rise Up’s fiscal sponsor and a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a vision of creating healthy communities where individuals reach their highest potential. Rise Up is one of PHI’s flagship global programs benefiting girls, youth and women.