Ivan Skafar is a volunteer legal advisor with the Women's Rights and Justice Project (DEMUJeres) which is implemented by Lawyers without borders Canada (LWBC) in consortium with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation and is funded by Global Affairs Canada. The project focuses on strengthening protection against sexual and gender based violence as well as increasing access to justice for women.
Just a few short weeks ago, I started my third mandate with Lawyers without borders Canada, this time in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Unlike my previous assignments, I am currently working for a local partner organization and not in a LWBC country office. I believe this opportunity will allow me to interact more directly with victims and develop a personal connection to the cases that I will be working on.
The organization with whom I will be spending the upcoming months is Asociación de Mujeres Generando Equidad, Liderazgo y Oportunidades (ASOGEN), which translates into the Women’s Association Generating Equity, Leadership and Opportunities in English.
An organization of women working for women
ASOGEN is a non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan, feminist organization that promotes women’s sexual and reproductive health and gender equality and protects women’s rights. They accomplish this by, among others, providing legal and psychological assistance to victims of sexual and gender based violence, hosting training, awareness and empowerment workshops for women and creating spaces for citizen participation, youth leadership, and political analysis. Ultimately, the organization’s goal is to build a more inclusive Guatemala free from gender discrimination.
ASOGEN was founded in 2008 by Danessa Luna, who is the acting director of the organization, in response to the sexual harassment and assault of a coworker at an NGO where she was working at the time. The organization began by providing free psychological services to a small number of women victims of physical and sexual violence, and grew into what it is today. Last year, ASOGEN provided free legal and psychological services to hundreds of women.
My role within the organization
ASOGEN has welcomed me with open arms into their organization where I will primarily be providing legal support in the numerous cases of sexual and gender based violence that they take on, especially those in which arguments based in international law will be helpful, or where judicial or quasi-judicial international mechanisms will be used. I will also be assisting ASOGEN with the workshops that it gives to men and adolescent boys regarding gender and masculinity.
I am honored to have the possibility to work with women who are determined and motivated to affect positive change within their communities, but also nationally and internationally. I look forward to helping them accomplish their goals to the best of my abilities as well as to learning from this team of competent and knowledgeable women.