Women leaders and human rights defenders in Colombia: A legacy of dreams, struggles and affection that we will not silence

“[To be a woman leader] is to love and defend our
 culture, land, race, identity.
It is to defend who we are.”
- Claudia Rincón, Colombian leader

Ana M. Tallada Iglesia

Ana was a strong advocate of women’s rights and worked with a broad cross-section of women, from those in grassroots networks to those in the private sector.

She believed in building bridges across sectors. Ana was a member of the National Network for the Promotion of Women (RNPM), and was active in developing many social programs that address issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights. 


 

Juana Ramírez Santiago

Juana was one of the founders and current Board Member of Red de Mujeres Ixiles de Nebaj, an Indigenous women’s rights organization that is a member of the Mesoamerican Initiative of WHRDs (IM-Defensoras).

She was also a midwife and a mother of 7 children. Juana had received death threats that were reported to the Prosecutor’s office. Juana is the third Indigenous WHRD murdered in the area during 2018. The Guatemala Ombudsman reports that a total of 20 HRDs were killed in the country this year. 

Carmen de la Cruz

Carmen had a long career advocating for women’s rights both in NGOs and within the United Nations (UN) system.  

She taught courses in several Spanish and Latin American universities, and published numerous articles and reports on women, gender and peace in developing countries.

María Cecilia Alfaro Quesada

Most of María’s life was devoted to incorporating a feminist and gender perspective in institutional and organizational work, and capacity building in Latin America. 

As a child, María had a strong interest in art, communication, nature, literature, and the achievement of justice, especially for women and marginalized groups.

Juana Raymundo

Juana was an Indigenous Mayan Ixil, professional nurse and coordinator of the Farmers’ Development Committee (Comité de Desarrollo Campesino – CODECA).

CODECA is a human rights organisation of Indigenous farmers dedicated to promoting land rights and rural development for Indigenous families) in the Nebaj Quiché micro-region. She first joined CODECA as a member of its youth branch (Juventud de CODECA). At the time of her death had been elected to be part of the Executive Committee of the Movement for the Liberation of Peoples (MLP).

Liliana Bodoc

Liliana was a teacher, a weaver, and a well recognized writer from Argentina.

Her trilogy La saga de los confines received several awards and is unique in the fantasy genre for its use and re-imagining of South American Indigenous mythology.

Liliana’s commitment to feminism was expressed in the diverse, rich and strong women voices in her writing, and particularly in her extensive work for young readers. She also took public positions in favour of abortion, economic justice and gender parity.

 


 

Olivia Arévalo Lomas

Olivia was the spiritual leader of the Shipibo Konibo indigenous peoples.

A wise Indigenous woman and grandmother, she was known for cultivating traditional medicine and the sacred songs of her people (Íkaros). Olivia Arevalo was an active defender of the cultural and environmental rights of her people. Olivia’s murder occurred in a context of territorial conflict between the Shipibo community and companies that desire to take over their land to cultivate palm oil.

Marielle Franco

Marielle was a Brazilian politician, feminist, lesbian and human rights activist.

Marielle was an outspoken critic of police brutality and extrajudicial killings. Her openly feminist, Black and favela-centered politics were a source of hope for marginalized groups in Rio de Janeiro, currently governed by a conservative city government and an evangelical mayor.

Guadalupe Campanur Tapia

Guadalupe was an environmental activist involved in the fight against crime in Cherán, Mexico.

Guadalupe helped to overthrow the local government in April 2011 and participated in local security patrols including those in municipal forests.  She was among the Indigenous leaders of Cherán, who called on people to defend their forests against illegal and merciless logging. Her work for seniors, children, and workers made her an icon in her community.

She was killed in Chilchota, Mexico about 30 kilometers north of her hometown of Cherá.