Samantha Inesta-Executive Director http://www.beasister2asister.org
The one issue that has risen to the top in recent months is human rights. Everything from racist phone calls to the police to massacres of thousands of people due to their religion, ethnicity or land. Rights for farm workers, low-wage workers and sexual harassment in the workplace, women are in a whole category of their own. Nevertheless it is all human rights, the right to live, worship, work and just exist as you please without attacks or persecution. It’s hard to live in this world, everyone has something they’re fighting for and all of those voices screaming in unison with different sicknesses plaguing their lives, it’s hard to hear the problem.
In September of this year I was accepted to a human rights fellowship program that took place in the United States covering Washington D.C., Naples, FL., and Dallas, TX. This wasn’t like any other fellowship because it consisted of all women from countries all over the world. This led to a lot of female bonding, lasting friendships and invitations to do work in several different countries. I was excited. The purpose of this program was to come together in partnership and share the work we were all doing while trying to find solutions on how we can partner and help our women and girls as well as each other. It all seemed so inspiring and empowering but our journey together didn’t meet the expectation most of us were hoping for.
As we made our way to the State Department in Washington D.C. to meet with the people who are in control of giving funding to NGOs and non profits we were prepared to make our cases and felt strongly we would get something in return. Once introductions were finished we dived right into what we came there for however, the response we received left most of us empty and a little frustrated. If you were not already a huge internationally know NGO you would have to partner up with one who was and hope to receive the state funding through them which by the way is taking a big risk. My sisters who were sitting at the table with me were all from other countries, I on the other hand was not so my response was much more disheartening because the US State Department apparently doesn’t think that US non profits deserve their funding-at all. They say that they are working on something to change that but that change has not and probably will not come. The woman at the head of the table either just wasn’t getting it or because of her high position of power just didn’t care. We were all women trying to help other women, why doesn’t she get it? Is what we were thinking but didn’t speak it to life.
The rest of the trip was filled with meetings of other non profits run by women who really just spoke about all the funding they just happened to “stumble onto” that made it possible for them to exist. One women actually drew diagrams for us showing how it would be possible for us to achieve the same thing but one size does not fit all. Our walk through the juvenile and court system in Dallas left us feeling not so warm and fuzzy. It seems that most of these women who are involved in this process have let themselves become jaded. A sad reality is when you see women using human rights a a publicity platform or a campaign promise. When you are blessed financially and want to make a difference, please don’t throw elaborate cocktail parties that don’t yield anything but useless networking. We were ready for a change. Once we stepped off the women’s issues train we hopped onto the refugee and human rights bus and rode it to boarder crossings and farm workers rights. This was where I saw a significant change. Maybe it was because it wasn’t just a women’s issue it was a women, men and children issue. Yes, bad things were happening but there was more of a push a relentlessness of getting what you want but doing it together. Some would argue this is because it’s not just women, it’s men too that’s why more is being done. That’s probably true, we see female migrants suffering just as much of not more than their male counterparts. But there’s more of an outcry a presence that is taken seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some women I met who really wanted to help without helping themselves first but unfortunately it wasn’t many. Our gracious and amazing hosts, some of whom were attorneys, understood these challenges very well but still worked to help us overcome them. These women got it. The ladies in my group were some of the most dedicated, passionate and hard working women in the world of human rights. I am blessed to know them and as much as we try hard to make this a world free of human trafficking, domestic violence, exploitation and abuse, the human rights world still needs a few good women.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog! BeaSister2aSister is a 501(c)3 non profit that helps survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, abuse and exploitation to gain the skills and tools to become self sustainable again and break away from interdependence. We are based in the United States with programs in several countries.
If you would like to help us bring survivors out of dependence and into self sustainability, please visit our website @ http://www.beasister2asister.org & click on give today. You can make a one time donation or be a sustainable reoccurring donor. Thanks for supporting!