Last Friday, Adelante celebrated International Women’s Day with our female main office staff and a group of ceibeña women looking to become more active in promoting economic empowerment among all Honduran women. While we enjoyed our own productive gathering, Julieta Castellanos was visiting the US to receive a Women of Courage Award from US Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama. She was among nine recipients from around the world to receive this award, and the only Latin American. The other courageous women hail from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Russia, Somalia, China, Syria, Vietnam and India (1).
Castellanos is the Rector of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (National Autonomous University of Honduras) and suffered the loss of her 22 year old son at the hands of Honduras’ national police in October 2011. Her son was kidnapped and then murdered in Honduras’ capital city of Tegucigalpa (2). Rather than allowing the tragic death of her son to defeat her, she has risen up further to promote human rights across the country. She continues to speak out against corruption, drug trafficking and Honduras’ high murder rates (1). Last year, Julieta Castellanos was also the recipient of the annual Martin Luther King Jr Award presented by US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske during an event sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr Foundation and the Instituto Hondureño de Cultura Interamericana. The award recognized her for her work fighting for the “social and democratic rights of the Honduran people” (3).
During the ceremony, John Kerry made an argument that Adelante continues to promote everyday, “Women’s issues, as we know, are more than just women’s issues. They are families’ issues, they are economic issues, they are security issues, they are justice issues” (1). The impact that loans and education have on our clients reach beyond the women themselves, to their families and communities.
Adelante’s work to empower women has a ripple effect: economic opportunities for women offer their families a source of income within their own rural communities to deter migration into urban areas or the US. Often when I speak with the women who have been clients with Adelante for several loan cycles, they are proud of the confidence and self-esteem gained from their improved living conditions and the education received. The improved self-esteem is also often passed on to their daughters and granddaughters, impacting generations to come.
As Adelante continues to work in terms of economic empowerment, we value the importance of Julieta Castellano’s contributions to promote basic human rights throughout the country. To watch the full award ceremony and learn about the work of other Women of Courage, click here: http://www.c-span.org/Events/State-Department-Hosts-Women-of-Courage-Awards/10737438660/.
(2) Michael Solis. “Castellanos Speaks of Youth’s Dismal Reality”. <http://hondurasweekly.com/201206255480/International/5480-castellanos-speaks-of-youths-dismal-reality.html> June 25, 2012
(3) <http://honduras.usembassy.gov/pr-042012-eng.html> April 20, 2012.