She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Fight for earning rights” … and: “No matter how big or small my knowledge is, it must be for the good of the women of my country” … and: “These generations are not submissive anymore. They demand autonomy, both collectively and for the individual. It is important and therefore it is worth fighting for”.
She says also: “Peace is the basis of democracy. Without democracy there is no peace. All men and women must become part of our commitment to give it life all over the world. Peace is not an isolated condition. If that harmony is going to be produced there must be articulation in an international context. Conflicts must be resolved by dialogue and negotiation. The mechanism of coercion as a means of bringing about decisions must be rejected. There cannot be any harmony within a framework of inequality and oppression. Peace is the fundamental aim”.
Alicia Amalia Rodríguez Illescas – Guatemala
She works for the Beijing Committee in Guatemala.
And she says: “When the confrontation is between women that means that you already have a lot to do, for example, to develop a critical consciousness. This is a pending item even if it is part of the process, and that is frustrating. We give ourselves the right to suffer and cry, to question why things are the way they are, but we must rise to the occasion. We must do what we have to do” … and: “We Guatemalan women have begun the process: to dream of peace, to commence the transition in order to build a different State. As in the rest of the world, the oppression of women and indigenous people is an unresolved matter”.
Alicia Amalia Rodríguez Illescas (57) is mother, diplomat, Doctor in Political Science, professor, feminist, promoter of laws, and defender of the human rights of women. She has built her life on wisdom, uprightness and devotion. She dedicates her life to engineering a better future. Along with other women, she rebels, makes proposals and takes decisions.
She shows that knowledge and academic learning make sense if they can serve to bring about social change. She decided more than three decades ago that, “No matter how big or small my knowledge is, it must be for the good of the women of my country”.
Alicia Amalia Rodríguez Illescas, was born in Guatemala City and lost her father when she was 2 years old. Along with her mother and two brothers they moved to Quetzaltenango1, to live with her paternal grandmother who died when Alicia was 6 years old. The family then returned to the capital and lived with her maternal grand parents.
She has been involved in different fields like diplomacy, teaching, research, promotion of laws and the fight for human rights. Her desire to improve the situation for women is the driving force behind her activities.
In 1972 she entered the Central-American School of International Studies where she earned a university degree in International and Diplomatic Relations. Four years later she was appointed Tourism Attaché to Guatemala’s Embassy in Spain and in 1992 she was appointed Ministra Consejera. In Madrid, she continued her academic studies gaining various qualifications including a Doctorate in Political and Social Sciences at the University of Complutense, a Masters Degree in Latin American Studies at the Institute of Sociology of Development and a Masters Degree in Political Sociology at the Institute for Political Studies.
In 1984 her son was born and she went back to Guatemala to work as a professor and consultant at the University Rafael Landivar, at the University Mariano Gálvez and at the University of San Carlos. In 1989 she went to the United Status and three years later she was granted a doctorate in Latin American Political Sciences and Women’s Studies, an experience that opened up for her a new perspective on gender.
On her return to her home country she co-founded the Office for the Defence of Women as part of the Ombudsman’s Office for the Human Rights of Women. She brought to this institution a new approach, which was to take into consideration the point of view of women and of the indigenous population. Later on she introduced an area for Women’s Studies in the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) and was also co-founder of the Beijing Committee in Guatemala.
In the area where the office of the Beijing Committee is located the air is mild and gentle and at the same time there is great activity. Surrounded by books and documents, this woman who shines with her own light, remembers that her son was not allowed to be called by his two maternal surnames because she was a single mother. “Now”, she says with pride, “Thanks to the achievements of the feminists, women do not have this obstacle. The girls and boys who are born in those same circumstances are allowed to take their mother’s two surnames”.
With her 57 years she has gained enormous experience. She is a ‘universal’ woman, a woman of many facets. She is open-minded towards new processes, ideas and projects. She is realistic and is also a dreamer. She believes that, ‘time used regretting things is lost time; it has no purpose’. She contributes, bringing the principle of gender equality into intermediate and higher education. She works on processes, which will lead to the empowerment of women. She participates in the formulation of public policies.
She gets energy from ‘the knowledge that the theme of women’s rights, before almost imperceptible, is now an issue at the centre of society. This is a consequence of a process that is transforming the ideological structure and social relationships. We must continue until we reach the institutionalisation of women’s rights’.
Her eyes shine like an adolescent’s. She feels happy to see that the new generations are allowed to disagree. They are heard and even if they are not aware of it, they are born under a set of different expectations.
She has been working to facilitate organizational processes to help indigenous women.
Life would be very sad without goals to aim for. “We Guatemalan women have begun the process: to dream of peace, to commence the transition in order to build a different State. As in the rest of the world, the oppression of women and indigenous people is an unresolved matter”.
For Alicia, personal recognition in not the end of the struggle. “It is what you have achieved for other people. Personal struggles make no sense without a context, without a social conglomerate. I have a great advantage in life because I can live out my dream: I work with what I like and love: The promotion of women’s right is fascinating”. (1000PeaceWomen).