ProDESC: Building a national alliance that empowers women human rights defenders to know and fight

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This year, C&A Foundation celebrates five years of making fashion a force for good by bringing together beneficiaries, allies and changemakers as part of our broader vision to unite the industry and set the stage for a profound industry transformation. Through this story series, we highlight five of our partners that have been with us on this journey, share our ideals and work with courage and conviction every single day to be true and powerful forces for good.

A human rights lawyer and defender for over two decades, Alejandra Ancheita, Founder and Executive Director of ProDESC describes her organisation’s mission as being to defend and promote the economic, social and cultural rights of workers, indigenous communities, temporary migrant workers and agrarian communities in Mexico.

She says “We are a feminist organisation. All the work we do to defend labour rights also looks at the issue through the lens of gender. Structural inequalities between men and women must be underlined, not only in litigation but also when we’re supporting an organisation of workers to ensure the full participation of women. Achieving this is still a challenge in Mexico and an even bigger challenge as we’re looking at exercising human rights.”

“C&A Foundation’s national scope fits perfectly with our own. They’ve been very open and transparent with us and have made their large and influential network accessible too. This has been immensely valuable. They have an acute understanding of how power dynamics work and have a good sense for how they can use their leverage to open the space for more democratic discussions. It truly feels like an equal partnership and I appreciate this,” says Alejandra as she reflects on the work that ProDESC does with C&A Foundation.

Collaborating with sectors beyond the textile industry

Over the last few years, ProDESC has worked with C&A Foundation to develop platforms that help open up the dialogue around the advancement of human rights and labour conditions in the textile industry and more recently with other industries such as agricultural and food as well. Organizing in a collective way and technical legal work and field work was needed to help worker’s with living nightmare conditions. Through these coalitions, human rights defenders are able to enhance better worker conditions, turning the nightmares around.

A journey beyond work

Alejandra shares with us some of her personal highlights and milestones in the work her organisation has done with C&A Foundation. Her passion shines through as she says, “The resilience of, particularly female, human rights defenders always amaze me. They have the courage and the knowledge to continue fighting for what they know is fair.”

“C&A Foundation understood the complexity of the process and appreciated that workers aren’t victims. They had the innate understanding that with the right support, workers can become human rights defenders and powerful change agents. Having their support to build this national coalition for women human rights defenders has therefore been very gratifying as it reinforces our shared ambition to help women lead more dignified lives, no matter how complicated or painful the process is.”

She adds, “In 10 years, we hope that some of these leaders that are part of the national coordination of human rights defenders will be in important positions in the federal government and will ensure the full application of labour rights policies that will improve labour conditions. And do this in partnership with organisations like ours and C&A Foundation.”

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