Fellow Since 1996
MUNICIPIO DE QUITO
This profile was prepared when Natacha Reyes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Natacha Reyes, a human rights lawyer in Ecuador, is part of the global movement that has succeeded in establishing that violence against women is a violation of their human rights and a legal issue, even when it takes place in the homes: and that governments therefore have a responsibility to provide enforceable protections. She was instrumental in writing Ecuador's first laws to protect women's rights and believes that the necessary legal framework now exists for Ecuadorian women to exercise their rights as private citizens–at least in theory. In the new democracies of Latin America a useful law can remain an abstraction because there are no mechanisms to make it work at the practical level. One distinguishing quality of Natacha's latest work is that it bridges that gap comprehensively.Natacha has devised a method to take the law out to the neighborhoods, give women the tools to make use of it and expand the rule of law in the country. To that end, she has created the Permanent Citizenship School. The name reflects her vision that ultimately human rights are about the meaning of citizenship: that no person whose basic human rights are not respected can truly be a citizen. Natacha concentrates her efforts on women, because they are the most vulnerable and tend to be most ignorant of their rights; and because any expansion of their citizenship moves naturally to their families and thus to society at large.