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Director Denounces Gender-Based Violence and Recognizes Mexico's International Women of Courage

Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues
Web Summary on Travel to Mexico

Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (July 2008) – Andrea G. Bottner, Director of the Office of International Women’s Issues, visited Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez to raise awareness about violence against women and learn of efforts in Mexico that address this important human rights issue. During roundtable discussions and individual meetings with local non-government organization (NGO) representatives and government officials, Director Bottner and U.S. NGO expert Sue Else, President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, shared information about U.S. government and non-government efforts, best practices for, and challenges to eradicating violence against women. Additionally, the U.S. delegation visited shelters in Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez which provide assistance to domestic violence victims and their children. In Ciudad Juarez, Ms. Bottner honored the Secretary of State's International Women of Courage from Mexico by participating in a recognition ceremony hosted by Consul General Ray McGrath.

While Ms. Bottner denounced violence against women and expressed concern over unresolved murder cases and disappearances of women in Mexico, she commended Mexico’s recent legal reforms created with the intent to improve access to justice, increase transparency within the country’s justice system, and to eradicate violence and discrimination against women. Grassroots representatives expressed concerns over deficient resources, and Ms. Bottner encouraged community leaders and gender-based violence advocates to increase their ongoing coordination efforts.

In Mexico City, the delegation first participated in a gender-based violence roundtable, attended by NGO representatives from Fundacion Infantia (The Children’s Foundation); The Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Children in Latin America and the Caribbean; and The National Network of Shelters in Mexico City.  Groups like these continue to work creatively with the private sector to increase assistance for victims. Ms. Bottner also met with FEVIMTRA, The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Violence Against Women and Trafficking in Persons, and with INMUJER, The National Institute of Women which holds a cabinet-level advisory role.  Currently, federal government efforts in Mexico focus substantially on expanding jurisdiction over gender-based violence cases, and on enhancing support for civil society organizations promoting women’s issues.

In Ciudad Juarez, Ms. Bottner and Consul General Ray McGrath together recognized Mexico’s 2008 nominees for the Secretary’s International Women of Courage Awards – Esther Chavez Cano, Director of Casa Amiga and Patricia Gonzalez, Chihuahua State Attorney General. Esther Chavez Cano is the Director and founder of Casa Amiga Crisis Center of Ciudad Juarez, a treatment and prevention center that also serves as a short-term shelter for women and children who have been victims of abuse and violence in Ciudad Juarez. The demand for the center’s services continues to grow year after year, despite serving thousands of victims annually. Patricia Gonzalez, who was also recognized, works to promote the rule of law in the State of Chihuahua. Ms. Gonzalez has helped modernize the State’s criminal procedure code by introducing new investigatory and scientific procedures for collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. Under her leadership the numbers of prosecutions and convictions have increased significantly. The International Women of Courage Award pays tribute to emerging women leaders like Esther and Patricia to recognize the courage and leadership shown by each as they struggle for social justice and women’s rights.

Following the International Women of Courage ceremony, more than twenty NGOs participated in a luncheon roundtable discussion, which focused on the topic of violence against women throughout Mexico and more specifically in Ciudad Juarez. Some of the civil society groups that participated in the roundtable include: Casa Amiga; Sin Violencia; Red Nacional de Refugios en Ciudad Juarez; Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (Indesol); FECHAC; Association of Maquiladoras; Strategic Plan for Juarez; Salud y Bienestar Comunitario (SABIC); Programa Companeros; Asociacion Fronteriza Mexico-Estadounidense de Salud; Organizacion Popular Independiente (OPI); Fondo Unido de Chihuahua; and Fundacion del Empresario Chihuahuense.
Advocates expressed their commitment to improving future coordination efforts, recognizing many challenges still lie ahead to ensure women in Mexico are free from the threat of violence and abuse of all kinds.  Director Bottner underscored that the U.S. stands steadfast with those in Mexico working to end violence against women in the country and across the globe.


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