Women Human Rights Defenders: Promoting Women's (human) Rights in Honduras

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Maaret JOKELA-PANSINI , Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
This paper explores the recent developments in women’s human rights activism in Honduras. In the past years, political and economic instability, culminating in the coup d’état in 2009, has led to extensive protests and mobilization among a variety of civil society actors, particularly among women’s groups. While promoting gender equality and organizing against militarism, neo-liberal practises and human rights violations, Honduran women activists have increasingly embedded the notion of human rights in their claims. Moreover, a wide variety of women’s groups including feminists, teachers, community leaders, labour union members and LGBT activists, among others, have met challenges collectively as ‘women human rights defenders’. I suggest that as a consequence, the discourse on women’s human rights has moved from academic spaces and a 'feminist project' to the everyday understandings of a large number of women’s groups and most importantly, a new framing of women’s agency. In doing so, activists have, moreover, enhanced their alliances with supportive women’s groups beyond national borders and entered new regional and international arenas of advocacy. Drawing mainly on social movement theories, this paper seeks to explore 1) the factors that have contributed to the shift in women’s rights framing among women activists in Honduras and 2) the possibilities and challenges arising from the strategic usage of human rights frames for the activists’ work and the women’s movement in Honduras generally.