Verona Valencia García
This profile was prepared when Verona Valencia García was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
"A highly visible social ill, domestic violence continues to thrive globally in places where friends, neighbors and communities turn blind eyes. Yet in Mexico - where the problem remains enabled by strong social, cultural and religious mores - responses to domestic violence have never mobilized people at the community level. Top-down and largely centralized in Mexico City, initiatives to date have not reached the majority of victims, have had little impact on incidence of violence or how well victims are cared for, and have failed to exploit the unique power of community members to identify, impede and attend to incidences of domestic violence in their midst. Verona Valencia realized that to abate domestic violence and to provide effective support to victims, there must be a response based in the community. Verona is coordinating teams of leaders-composed primarily of older women, an under-utilized resource in most communities - who can cut off potential 'cases of domestic violence at the source, and when it does occur, assist the victim to access necessary care provided by other institutions. The women leaders are also the nexus of community education and sensitization efforts aimed to get through to their neighbors why domestic violence is wrong, and how it can be avoided. Once Verona has consolidated these core teams of women leaders, they will reach out to police, local officials and influential citizens, developing a robust base of support in each community. Integrating men generally into the effort-harnessing their potential as loving boyfriends, husbands, fathers and neighbors - will be a key outcome of successful education and sensitization initiatives. A successful community-based model proven in Aguascalientes will be replicable throughout Mexico through Verona's contacts in Mexico's leading women's networks."