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August 15, 2008

Photo of Sue Else and Andrea Bottner with representatives from MexicoDuring their July 2008 trip to Mexico, Sue Else, President of NNEDV, and Andrea Bottner, Director of the Office of International Women's Issues, participated in a gender-based violence roundtable, attended by NGO representatives from Fundacion Infantia (The Children's Foundation); The Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Children in Latin America and the Caribbean; and The National Network of Shelters in Mexico City.  Groups like these continue to work creatively with the private sector to increase assistance for victims.  Currently, federal government efforts in Mexico focus substantially on expanding jurisdiction over gender-based violence cases, and on enhancing support for civil society organizations promoting women's issues.

In Ciudad Juarez, Ms. Bottner and Consul General Ray McGrath recognized Mexico's 2008 nominees for the Secretary's International Women of Courage Awards - Esther Chavez Cano, Director of Casa Amiga and Patricia Gonzalez, Chihuahua State Attorney General. Esther Chavez Cano is the Director and founder of Casa Amiga Crisis Center of Ciudad Juarez, a treatment and prevention center that also serves as a short-term shelter for women and children who have been victims of abuse and violence in Ciudad Juarez. The demand for the center's services continues to grow year after year, despite serving thousands of victims annually. Patricia Gonzalez works to promote the rule of law in the State of Chihuahua. Ms. Gonzalez has helped modernize the State's criminal procedure code by introducing new investigatory and scientific procedures for collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. Under her leadership the numbers of prosecutions and convictions have increased significantly. The International Women of Courage Award pays tribute to emerging women leaders like Esther and Patricia to recognize the courage and leadership shown by each as they struggle for social justice and women's rights.

Following the International Women of Courage ceremony, more than twenty NGOs participated in a luncheon roundtable discussion, which focused on the topic of violence against women throughout Mexico and more specifically in Ciudad Juarez. Some of the civil society groups that participated in the roundtable include: Casa Amiga; Sin Violencia; Red Nacional de Refugios en Ciudad Juarez; Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (Indesol); FECHAC; Association of Maquiladoras; Strategic Plan for Juarez; Salud y Bienestar Comunitario (SABIC); Programa Companeros; Asociacion Fronteriza Mexico-Estadounidense de Salud; Organizacion Popular Independiente (OPI); Fondo Unido de Chihuahua; and Fundacion del Empresario Chihuahuense.  Advocates expressed their commitment to improving future coordination efforts, recognizing many challenges still lie ahead to ensure women in Mexico are free from the threat of violence and abuse of all kinds.

Information for this article provided by the Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues.