Strengthening women’s leadership in Nicaragua
Santiago Agra Bermejo
25 August 2017
Victorina Gómez from Matalgapa, in Northern Nicaragua challenges her community and local government to respect the women’s rights of women, and take action on all forms of violence against women and girls.
Some people are born to be leaders, and Victorina Gómez is one of them.
Against many odds, this 25 year old woman has become an ambassador for her community of San Ramón, Matalgapa, in Northern Nicaragua.
Victorina was born in a humble family from a poor rural area where women don’t have many chances to act as leaders. But she does, and now she is a community leader and a certified legal counsellor.
Victorina has been a prominent figure from primary school.
Back then, she supported classmates’ rights if she thought that teachers were being unfair.
Since 2013, she has been participating in trainings with Trócaire´s partner CESESMA to sharpen her skills as a leader.
Thanks to this, Victorina helps now to prevent violence in her community. She also knows better how the law protects the rights of children, teenagers, and women living with violence.
For her, violence in Nicaragua is a problem not addressed at a deep enough level.
“Violence is not just hitting. If the husband takes the family money, he doesn’t care about the wife’s health if he yells at her, that is violence too,” Victorina says. “I want to make other people aware that violence is a priority issue. I always stress that we need to believe girls and women reporting sexual abuse or any violence in the family.”
“Now I can help women and children to defend their rights. Thanks to my training with CESESMA I was appointed a legal counsellor. Now I can guide women and children on accessing justice.”
But Victorina faces many problems, starting with gender discrimination.
As a young female leader, she usually deals with male leaders who do not believe in women’s abilities.
Victorina also has difficulties with the police.
“If a woman comes to make a complaint on Friday, police tell her to come on Monday because the car is used for other more important cases. That way the aggressor has time to escape. Sometimes, our economic resources do not allow us to help other people, thus, the complaint process is stopped, or on occasion the woman does not want to go alone to make the complaint.”
Victorina expects other leaders to commit themselves to prevent violence and raise awareness about it. She expects them to acknowledge violence as a public problem not as a domestic issue, as all women face it at some point in their lives, especially young girls.
Many times, parents give them the wrong information or transmit prejudices about sexuality. A lot of girls are pregnant at an early age due to sexual abuse. Others suffer a lack of attention and mistreatment from parents or custodians.
Despite adversity, Victorina has achieved some victories as a community leader.
She managed to introduce violence against women into debates organised by the local authority about social assistance schemes.
She was able to keep the discussion going on what is the sense of providing housing materials or food to a family when women are abused.
Her challenge now as a leader is keeping adults, teenage women and youth informed.
Victorina has also made other important decisions in her own life and she is studying business administration.
“I have always said that this is not contributing with a grain of sand, as sand doesn’t reproduce itself. However, wheat does. What we have to sow is another grain of wheat.”
Originally published at www.trocaire.org.