Just over 10 years ago, Alexandra, Kristina, Regina, and Ximena planted the seed of what is now EQUIS: Justice for Women. Faced with a deeply patriarchal and misogynistic justice system, EQUIS emerged with a single desire: to improve access to justice for all women, each with unique experiences, stories, and voices. This is the brief history of our first ten years (+1), a story of joint creation and transformation, the story of many women and an organization that have worked for over a decade to break down structures and reap justice.
We are a young and diverse team that understands intersectionality as a tool. We act from a feminism where we all fit, it is anti-punitive, anti-racist, anti-militarist, and trans-inclusive. We prioritize collaborative work and mutual learning, always with an open, dialoguing, critical, and proactive stance. We support and accompany each other, both institutionally and individually. That is why we also prioritize care and collective leadership. These are the roots that make us who we are, that sustain us and allow us to grow and strengthen ourselves day by day.
The First Sprouts
Every story has a beginning. Ours emerged from five processes that, like seeds, sprouted, opening paths and giving us lessons that laid the foundations of our work.
The Observatory of Judicial Rulings with a Gender Perspective in Mexico
The Amicus before the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice for the cases of Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú
The first report based on the analysis of judicial rulings on access to justice for indigenous women in Mexico
The National Network of Judges for the Administration of Justice with a Gender Perspective in Mexico
The Feminist Regional Articulation (ARF) and the work with women affected by drug policies in Latin America.
Our branches and fruits
Prevention and protection against gender-based violence
To reduce violence against women, it is essential to approach public policies with a preventive focus, rather than just from a perspective that seeks to punish the violence that the State should have prevented. Therefore, and under an intersectional approach and a broad view of justice, we have strengthened mechanisms that expand the sphere of protection for all women throughout these ten years.
Protection orders: expanding prevention options for gender-based violence
Despite their great potential as preventive measures that do not require a formal complaint to be implemented, protection orders have been underutilized. Lack of awareness and confusion about this measure, gender stereotypes and prejudices, and a lack of tools to assess the risk faced by women are some of the obstacles we have identified in their application. Therefore, in collaboration with state judicial powers and civil society organizations, we have:
Built the first protection standard in the country for situations of violence, establishing a homogenized protection baseline in judicial action.
Trained over 120 members of justice institutions in five states of the country on protection orders.
Created a Feminist Citizens' Initiative with the collaboration of twenty-two civil society organizations that provide assistance and support to women who experience violence or are at risk.
Justice Centers for Women
CEJUMs (Justice Centers for Women) are one of the main public policies to prevent and address violence against women. However, they face serious challenges such as a lack of legislative harmonization, legal insecurity, institutional weakness, scarcity of resources, and lack of intersectional perspective in service provision. To strengthen this institution, EQUIS has:
Formed the Citizen Observatory of the Justice Centers for Women (OCCEJUM), which, to date, has carried out citizen audits in 5 states.
Co-created three tools with the CEJUM of the state of Nuevo León to strengthen their capacities to support women experiencing violence, focusing on how to assess risk and dictate appropriate measures for each situation.
Presented a proposal for legislative reform to the General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence (LGAMVLV) to strengthen the legal framework of CEJUMs at the federal level.
Criminalization of women and punitive policies.
Access to justice is for all women, including those who are criminalized or incarcerated, who have historically been invisible and excluded from feminist conversations and have been left out of gender perspectives.
From criminalization to full rights guarantee: women, drug policies, and social reintegration
In the context of the so-called “war on drugs,” the number of incarcerated women in Mexico has increased exponentially. Despite facing differentiated challenges from men when entering and leaving prison, there are currently no gender-sensitive social reintegration policies for women in the country. As a feminist organization, we have sought to demonstrate that the imprisonment of women is a matter of access to justice with a gender perspective:
We accompanied a group of formerly incarcerated women who have now formed four collectives that promote their own agendas.
We documented the absence of a gender perspective in prison and social reintegration public policies, as well as the failures in the use of alternative measures to imprisonment.
We contributed to the approval of the Federal Amnesty Law, as well as the approval of .measures focused on releasing women unjustly incarcerated through the campaigns #LiberarlasEsJusticia (To free them is justice) and #AmnistíaYa (Amnesty Now).
We raised awareness of the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the lives of poppy growers in Guerrero and rural women in Oaxaca.
We succeeded in securing the release of Araceli, Domitila, and Reina –women unjustly imprisoned for drug-related offenses–.
Militarization: Experiences of resistance from both, bodies and territories, to sustain life
The advance of militarism in Mexico and the region represents a threat to the life and freedom of women and their communities. Approaching militarism from a feminist perspective is necessary to collectively reflect on concepts such as security and peace, as well as to identify and activate resistance strategies. Thus:
We have generated evidence on the lack of training within the Armed Forces in the areas of human rights and gender issues.
We have made the effects of armed violence on women's lives visible.
We have created spaces for dialogue and reflection with allied organizations and populations that directly suffer the effects of militarization.
Justice in equality and non-discrimination
Ten (+1) years of analyzing judicial rulings have shown us the structural flaws in Mexico’s justice system. Through close, critical, and proactive work with justice institutions, we aim to strengthen them and contribute to the mainstreaming of gender, intersectionality, and human rights perspectives within them.
Overthrowing one hundred and ninety years of patriarchal justice
The judicial system has traditionally been opaque and distant from the public. However, it has a key role both in preventing violence against women and in strengthening the Rule of Law. That is why it is essential to make it more citizen-oriented. In just over ten years and in close collaboration with state judicial powers, we have gone from demanding transparency to demanding feminist open justice, achieving:
The guarantee that all state judicial powers must make all their rulings public.
The creation of the Pact for Open Justice with a Gender Perspective, promoted by more than 50 diverse civil society organizations, networks, and collectives, and signed by more than 12 state judicial powers.
The positioning of the topic of transparency and open justice within the human rights and feminist movements.
Mayan justice promoters: breaking barriers of racism and structural discrimination
Since 2016, we have accompanied the Network of Mayan Justice Promoters in their work for the defense of women’s human rights. In this journey, we have:
Reflected on and built broad notions of justice. It was the promoters who taught us that the first justice is self-justice , and that individual justice is always collective.
Supported the strengthening of the leadership of 40 indigenous Mayan women in 8 municipalities in Yucatan to combat the racism and gender discrimination they face.
Created tools to recognize and revitalize the work that community authorities do in preventing and addressing the violence that women experience.
Supported the construction of an Agenda for Access to Justice for Mayan Women, an advocacy tool that is based on the voices, perspectives, and demands for justice of more than 90 Mayan women.
(Trans)versal justice: the need to ensure a life #WithoutFearOfBeing for all
The murders of Paola and Alessa are painful reminders of the violence that both the State and private actors exercise against trans women. In all the work we have done alongside our trans sisters, we have sought not only the integral reparation of harm, but also to demonstrate that it is possible for all of us to have full, safe, and happy lives.
We presented an Amicus Curiae before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of Vicky Hernández, in which the Belém do Pará Convention was applied for the first time in the case of a trans woman.
The Mexico City’s Attorney General offered a public apology to Kenya Cuevas, in which they recognized their omissions and the discrimination exercised during the investigation of the transfemicide of Paola Buenrostro.
We accompanied a lawsuit about discrimination between private parties in public space that, if resolved, could set the first standard in Mexico regarding acts of discrimination, establish a precedent for the burden of proof not to fall on the discriminated person, and open a path to judicialize discrimination through the civil route for integral reparation.
We launched #SinMiedoASer (Without fear of being), a collective campaign to visibilize the existence and activism of diverse women whose stories of struggle and resistance are marked by the desire for all women, bodies, and identities to live in freedom.
Ten years (+1) into this journey, we are certain that we will continue working to guarantee access to justice for all women. Our commitment is to broaden the concept of justice, starting from ourselves, looking beyond the State’s responses, imagining alternatives to punishment and imprisonment, a justice that responds to the needs, dreams and desires of all women. To each and every one of you: thank you for being our +1.
We invite you to continue sowing justice to sustain life.