…We encourage new groups
Where they do not exist
Promoting among women
Husbands and family members
The participation of all
Although sometimes they do not understand
We will continue struggling
So that the world be made up of equals…
(From a CODIMUJ song)
On 18 and 19 October 2012, some 150 women from the Diocese Coordination of Women (CODIMUJ), the majority of them campesina and indigenous from 7 zones of the state of Chiapas, met to carry out their trimester assembly and to prepare for the twentieth anniversary of their organization. This event was celebrated on 20 October in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, in the CODIMUJ office, given that one of their achievements has been to open their own space. There was a significant presence of organizations, collectives, and individuals who were invited to accompany the women in their celebration of the long trajectory of the religious and political meetings and activities carried out by CODIMUJ.
In 1992, the Diocese Assembly approved and recognized the “Area of Women” as part of its structure and pastoral work in the Diocese, something that signified a great advance for the work of women who have united in groups from several parishes. Regardless, the history of the activities of women from the religious sphere had begun much earlier, in the 1960’s and 70’s. The fact that the work carried out by women in their communities related to the Area of Women is conducted in different languages from different zones makes the efforts of CODIMUJ very important, given that it facilitates the identification of the women with the process and helps them to participate in readings and discussions.
The pamphlet that CODIMUJ published for its twentieth anniversary has to do with the first years of its work: “we were in very different conditions. We women had no consciousness, either collective or political, of our reality as women […]. Work still had no gender perspective, and we women did not struggle for our rights as women in the family and the community.” Now, many years later, the CODIMUJ women celebrate that it is precisely these things that now exist: by means of analyses of the social, political, and religious reality, “with women’s eyes, hearts, and minds,” it has been possible to create more consciousness and potential to act as organized women.
The celebration began during the morning of the anniversary with a panel of 6 persons who spoke on the trajectory of CODIMUJ: 3 persons who accompanied the organization, and 3 women who have spent much time working in the Area of Women. The CODIMUJ women themselves emphasized the aspect of holding themselves in esteem and defending their rights as women. One of them recalled in her comments how things had been in her family several years ago, when she as woman did not have the right to do as she pleased. She had to struggle greatly so that her husband and other male family members would respect her and accept her participation in CODIMUJ activities. Her efforts have borne fruit: now for some time, she feels free to involve herself when she desires, and she does not need to request permission from her husband to do so. Another woman presented a paper mask to represent how it was that previously women had covered up their personalities, not knowing how to express themselves, while now CODIMUJ women feel courageous enough to show the world their real face.
On the panel was also a person from the Netherlands, who mentioned that it has been an honor to accompany this greatly needed process, one that combines religious faith with society. In her words, “This reflects that we are not living in different worlds, that there is not just a world of faith and another of society, [but rather] that both are combined in this movement that is CODIMUJ. Society, culture, faith, religion, Mayan religion. All of these give a great richness to this movement.”