Central America · Nicaragua
Intergenerational Dialogue Holds the Seeds for Eliminating Violence Against Women
Rose Cunningham (60) is from the Nicaraguan Miskito community, which has been internally displaced for several years. She founded Wangki Tangni as a way not only to relieve the immediate effects of poverty, malnutrition, and disease, but also to build a sustainable project to address the prolonging existence of such issues in the Indigenous communities of Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Coast. Through Wangki Tangni, Rose created programs assisting indigenous people to develop the skills needed for self-government, protection of the regions biodiversity, and preservation of their traditional values.
Wangki Tangni currently maintains several programs, including a food security project, a women’s center, and a women’s sewing collective. These programs offer education and training on a variety of subjects including sustainable farming, political participation, women’s rights, violence against women, self esteem, sexual health, and the defense of basic human rights.
Harvesting Hope is one of Wangki Tangni’s organic agricultural food security initiatives that promotes sustainable women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, providing women with healthy sustenance, income generation, and human rights awareness. Harvesting Hope began in 2003, providing seeds to 20 women and has now expanded to include almost 1,000 women. As a member of the community herself, Mrs. Cunningham has incorporated important aspects of Miskito tradition such as the bartering system and respect for natural resources, making this program culturally unique.
Mrs. Cunningham’s dedication to preserving her community’s traditions has also led to other innovative programs that use trainings on sustainable farming and local farmers markets to educate communities on violence against women. Linking strategies against violence with strategies to maintain indigenous identity and cultural rights, these programs emphasize the cultural opposition to gender-based violence. For example, Wangki Tangni organizes intergenerational dialogues, in which community elders share traditional stories of women’s power, reinforcing understanding of violence against women as being inherently wrong.