Our Voices

Learning about human rights and effecting change through theater

Their stories were familiar. Their anger and frustration were palpable.

“She never made contact again.”

“There were men outside our house with guns, and I did not know whether they were to protect us or hurt us.”

“That is where the earth ate her.”

In a hotel meeting room in Toreón, Mexico, 20 women gathered for the second Voces Contra El Poder human rights and theater workshop. Organized and led by El Dia Despues and RFK Human Rights, with support from USAID, the workshop was a long-overdue, post-COVID continuation of the powerful 2020 workshop in Mexico City.

In Mexico, violence against women is an ongoing crisis – destroying families and communities, and leaving trauma in its wake. Coupled with drug cartel activity, targeting of journalists, and corruption at various levels of government, remaining hopeful can be a battle.

But for three days in March, this group of 20 determined, passionate activists gathered to learn more about human rights and explore how they can apply that understanding to effect change in their communities through theater.

Building on what they had learned in 2020, participants examined the human rights framework, discussed how it applied to the current situation in Mexico, and considered small steps they could take to bring change. After spending time with some local human rights defenders, the women shared the stories of defenders they had researched.

For some, the idea that they could help bring change was inconceivable. For others, the drive was there – but the next steps weren’t clear.

“I arrived at the Voces Contra el Poder workshop willing to learn about a topic relatively new to me, of which I had a general knowledge but had not delved into it, which is Human Rights. As we went deeper into the subject and also seeing the contribution made by the other participants, I felt that it was a lot of my ignorance – that I did not have much to contribute and that my participation was not very useful.

Reflecting at the end of the day, I realized that it cannot be a coincidence I have arrived at this workshop, since we are all beginners at some point; my work is now taking advantage of all the resources and knowledge that they are giving me to want to inform me more and to be able to share that knowledge with the people around me initially, and with these acquired tools can generate projects for the dissemination of these topics. I also learned that all experiences and perspectives are valid and useful, that enriches the workshop and the whole of what we are and what we contribute among all the participants gives a unique essence.”

Grace Martinez, workshop participant

Bringing this work to communities, with communities, is central to the work of both El Dia Despues and RFK Human Rights. As Diego Luna, actor and founder of EDD said to the participants “…the possibility of influencing, of feeling part of something, of being part of a community reflection, and in the best of cases, of an action. Voces Contra El Poder unites an effort, in an exercise that, with the simple fact of happening, will be generating something.”

Over the next year, Voces Contra El Poder workshops and performances, with the support of USAID, will be held in five states across Mexico.

For more information, please email Karen Robinson: [email protected]