WJI’s Community Advocates Program is an essential part of WJI’s comprehensive approach. WJI trains rural, indigenous women to become local leaders and educators in their communities. These Advocates lead WJI workshops, offer legal advice and accompaniment to neighbors, and assist in WJI’s expansion efforts by conducting community mapping and recruiting other women to become Advocates. Here is one Advocate’s story:
Last year, Ana Calicia, 24, received a knock on her door in Xiquin Sanaí that would change her life. WJI had recently expanded to her municipality, San Juan Comalapa, as part of an initiative funded by the Tinker Foundation. At that time, graduates from the Advocates program in other municipalities worked with WJI to identify new leaders to join the program’s next cohort. One of these women was Ana.
Now, in 2022, Ana has completed about half of her leadership training course and is beginning to hone her facilitation skills so that she can put her new knowledge into practice and teach other women.
“Through the Community Advocates Program, I’ve learned about leadership. I’ve learned how to facilitate in a dynamic way so that women more actively participate [in workshops]...After each training, there is a change. More and more women say ‘I know that I have the right to live free of violence.’”
Ana has already begun hosting assemblies for men and women in her community, which focus on ending sexism and breaking cycles of violence.
Ana says that the most important thing that she learned is the process of reporting violence against women (VAWG), which will allow her to provide legal accompaniment to women in her community. Says Ana, “Women in our community have long suffered violence. Our grandmothers, our mothers [have gone through the same issues]. But now we know about our rights. We can put an end to machismo and to inequality.”
Going forward, Ana will play a leading role in Xiquin Sanahí’s fight for women’s rights, using the various skills that she says she has acquired with the Women’s Justice Initiative.
“My hope as a Community Advocate is to strengthen women’s knowledge of their rights and help them live free of violence and discrimination.”
So far, it seems that Ana is doing just that. ✨