This post is a part of the #udhr2014 campaign. Check out the campaign webpage for more info!
Based at Rutgers University, the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) was founded in 1989. CWGL and USHRN have collaborated for many years on projects and events advancing human rights. CWGL's work strengthens and facilitates women’s leadership for women’s human rights and social justice worldwide. As part of this year's #udhr2014 campaign, we would like to share the story of a CWGL member, Francis O'Toole.
Just across the Texan border lies Ciudad Juarez, one of the largest access points between Mexico and the United States. It is one of the fastest growing industrial areas in North America, is a magnet for foreign retail, and has a very high education and literacy rate. Also, violence against women runs rampant in Juarez.
Frances O’Toole encountered rumors and stories while adopting her sons from Mexico. She heard tales of women being stolen in the night by cartels, never to be seen or heard from again. She heard stories of grieving mothers protesting, only to meet the same fate, as government officials said citizens should “keep their mouths shut.”
Frances could not stand idly by and let the femicide continue. “It’s motivation…to know people are living like this every single day, and nobody is doing anything. Nobody cares about it, nobody seems to talk about it.” So she found a group that was doing something about it.
As a student at Rutgers University, Frances joined forces with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. Together, they are working to advance human rights and social justice while facilitating leadership roles for women. For Frances, “to know there are people out there who are taking action, it’s reassuring.”
Now a first year law student with hopes of an internship this summer at the International Criminal Court, and the ultimate goal of becoming a Human Rights Officer in Geneva, CWGL’s influence has made an incredible impact on Frances. Whether it’s through their weekly informal meetings, or creating opportunities to observe private hearings at the UN, their work has reinforced for Frances that she is on the right path.