Never, ever, give up

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The author, Greg Loughlin, and WomenStrong International Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, hold green bandanas they received from Centro Mujeres as an inspiration for the long struggle to come in the US.

Of course, the work is not done. Mónica and Teresa are working now with health and justice departments to implement DECRETO 2832. In September, they will launch a campaign to inform the public about their new rights.

And there have been costs to their work. Cento Mujeres’ phones have been intercepted, their power and phone lines cut, their security cameras stolen. Their billboards have been destroyed, and they have been threatened and chased down the street by extremist thugs. “They have never left us alone,” says Teresa.

This abuse has been so obvious that the public response has been the opposite of what the extremists intended: Public support for Centro Mujeres has grown.

“Through it all, we never stopped working with women and adolescents,” said Mónica.

“When you realize the level of suffering women go through, you just have to push forward,” said Teresa. “You can’t stop being a voice for women who are voiceless.”

No one accomplishes anything alone.

During the process of listening to Mónica and Teresa, I realized that just as they developed critical consciousness in their community by explaining, “Here’s what’s going on in the world. Here’s what’s going on in Mexico,” they were doing the same with me.

Information is power. I felt energized as Mónica and Teresa taught me how we are part of a human rights movement that is far bigger than the US – a movement from which we in the US have a lot to learn.

Even when the cause seems hopeless — like there is “nothing here,” as my home state of Georgia implements draconian new restrictions on abortion — change is possible. We only need to look further south for inspiration.

I just ordered a green bandana and reached out to the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta to ask how I can help.

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About WomenStrong International

WomenStrong International provides trust-based funding, capacity strengthening, and a peer learning community to grantee partners addressing some of the most critical needs of women and girls: keeping girls in school, accessing lifesaving reproductive health care, preventing gender-based violence, and creating pathways to economic security. Learn More