Ms. Esparanza Cardona is a Honduran women’s rights activist and one of 25 women connected to United Methodist Women who are in New York this week advocating for the international rights of women.
Ms. Cardona reported feeling grateful to be a part of the United Nations Women’s gathering. “Being here gives me the energy to keep up the fight.”
She joined “the fight” when her husband was murdered in 1986 for organizing his fellow agricultural workers. She was a young widow with five small children. Her fellow farmers gave her land. Although her country’s government affirms the legal rights of women to own land, in a country struggling with extreme poverty and machismo, only 24 percent of landowners are women. The women are bullied, yet they do not step down.
“Because I was dedicated to my children, I was dedicated to fight for rights.” Ms. Cardona said, “When women stay home, the passion for reform is gone, you have to leave the house.”
Her cause is just. “For women’s dignity, we demand the right to land, credit, a decent home and freedom from other men and violence. We are united. And the people united will never be defeated.”
When I asked if change was truly possible, Ms. Cardona said, “Everything is possible when women empower themselves and claim their rights.”
She is inspired by the rural women she has met from around the world on this trip. “God has a purpose for me -- to keep working and keep fighting for the rights of women.”
I spoke to Ms. Cardona through a translator, so I was keenly aware of the difference in our languages. However, I felt united in spirit and in hope for the future.
I was weary today. Maybe it was the change in daylight savings time this weekend. And I have been working hard on behalf of my own family. But meeting Ms. Cardona uplifted me. She convinced me to keep up the good fight for my family and for the rights of women -- in Honduras or wherever.
Ms. Cordona is the coordinator for the commission for peasant women in Honduras, the National Women’s Commission of La Via Campesina in Honduras. The organization represents two million women of which 70 percent are in poverty and 49 are in extreme poverty, according to Ms. Cardona. “That’s why,” she said, “Together with my fellow fighters, we’re here to pressure and ask our governments for our rights.”