February 2007





 By Maria Suárez RIF /FIRE

Alda Facio: The strategist of creating links between grassroots and the global, between women´s rights and the human rights framework


Alda Facio is a well known Costa Rican women's human rights activist in the Latin American region and worldwide. She is well known globally because of her contribution, not only to the promotion of women's human rights, but also because of the way she has worked at bridging the gap between grassroots and other organized activists and initiatives at the national, regional and international levels. This link has been so crucial towards success in advancing the human rights everywhere and at all levels. This constructor of strategic links is a major role provided by Alda Facio as and activist and strategist and is one of the main reasons why she deserves to be

      Alda Facio in FIRE

recognized with the Perdita Houston Award. "Alda Facio is a visionary who has shown tremendous courage in her endless fight for women's rights. Few have shown Alda's determination, fortitude and resilience in the protection and promotion of women's human rights." Rebecca Cook, Toronto

Alda back in 1986 as a literacy teacher and grassroots activist in the Latin American and Caribbean region, she was already helping grassroots activists make the connections between the issues they were addressing and women´s human rights. At the time, I myself was undertaking adult literacy work throughout the Central American region. Alda taught me not only about the need for that connection of issues with human rights, but also the relevance of this link in advancing women through a holistic approach. The need to address women's rights in the eradication of illiteracy, poverty, etc. as a women's human rights issue became astrategic approach that challenged isolated asistentialism.

Alda has been an activist and strategist for over 30 years, so it is time that she gets recognized as the first women to make that connection in the Latin American & Caribbean region and perhaps even globally. As a women´s human rights activist myself, so many years later, I still look at the literature of women´s human rights and although others have written about this connection, none did it as early on as Alda Facio.

Another major constribution of Alda since the 1980s is her insistence that women´s groups organize special tribunals in order to showcase what women at all levels were saying about their experiences and their rights and how to link them to human rights. She was also insistent that those tribunals were relevant because in them women at all levels would have a voice about what happens to us in daily life that is invisible to the human rights framework.

Writes Malena de Montis, activist of the Autonomous Women´s Movement in Nicaragua: "Alda Facio has been crucial throughout the last 25 years in the Central American region, and most important in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the region, in women´s understanding that we had to challenge the human rights framework to make it work for us rather than just complain or reject it because it did not include us. That is why we call her our strategist at the local level."

For example, Alda was very involved in all the activities around the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and the IV World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She helped organize the Women's "Satellite" Conference on Human Rights in Latin America which became a global example to women in all regions as to how women could mobilize and organize from the community level up and around the world, in order to bring forth their issues to a global Human Rights Conference. Alda also helped in the organization of the Vienna Tribunal on Violence against Women. Regardless of anything else, for those of us who were there, we know that the main success of those tribunals is that grassroots women were able to "make their case" and have their voices heard.








   Alda protesting against the CAFTA

Perdita Houston International Award for Human Rights

The award was created by the  United Nations Assosiation of the National Capital Area  in 2002 and was awarded to  Dr. Sima Samar of Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission in 2003,  and to Madame Fatoumata Traoré from Mali in 2004, for been one of the first women to implement family planning programs in rural communities throughout her country. In the year  2005 Ranjana Gaur of Social Action Research Center in India, who was abducted and became a victim of sexual slavery at the age of 13,  was the recipient of the award and in 2006 the award was bestowed upon Sunitha Krishnan of the Prajwala (eternal flame) Organization in India, dedicated to the fight against human traffic and sexual violence of women and girls. 


Feminist International Radio Endeavor (FIRE) and the "Alas de Mariposa" program invite you to support this nomination by sending a aparagraph  which includes your thoughts on what Alda Facio´s work and contributions has meant to you.  

Write to Maria Suárez maria2003@racsa.co.cr who will compile the information and summit it. There is little time left until the end of the nomination period, which closes February 15th, 2007.


Sound files and photos:  Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE)
You may use the information from FIRE (www.radiofeminista.net ) citing FIRE as the source