top of page

Mon, May 06


The Seattle Foundation

Women and Democracy: Perspectives of Activists in Central America

Central America is currently in a phase of democratic backsliding, which involves attacks on women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights and gender equality. Anti-rights movements are also rising in the region, and their powerful presence and backing by authoritarian leaders and actors with significant...

Registration is closed
See other events
Women and Democracy: Perspectives of Activists in Central America
Women and Democracy: Perspectives of Activists in Central America

Time & Place

May 06, 2024, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM PDT

The Seattle Foundation, 1601 5th Ave #1900, Seattle, WA 98101, USA

About the Event

Central America is currently in a phase of democratic backsliding, which involves attacks on women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights and gender equality. Anti-rights movements are also rising in the region, and their powerful presence and backing by authoritarian leaders and actors with significant resources threaten women’s rights.

Join World Affairs Council, YPIN and Seattle International Foundation for a discussion on the importance of empowering women and girls and their role in building democratic and equitable societies.

Our Speakers: Jovana Ríos Cisnero

As Executive Director of Women’s Link Worldwide, Jovana works to develop and scale Women’s Link mission by unleashing the power of women and girls to fight for justice, strengthen and transform the feminist strategic litigation ecosystem to break down barriers, challenge oppressive systems, and alter power imbalances by breaking the walls of the legal sphere and bringing in those left out.

Jovana co-founded the Latin America and the Caribbean Youth Alliance, which has catalyzed youth-led advocacy during negotiations around the 20-year review of the Cairo Programme of Action, the adoption of the Montevideo Consensus, and the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, Jovana was a member of the Developing Countries NGO Delegation to the Board of Directors of the Global Fund and has served as a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund. She led a policy and communications unit in the private sector and has worked as Advocacy and Campaigns Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at Save the Children International.

Jovana has received high-level appointments from two UN Secretary-Generals related to the Every Woman Every Child initiative, first to the High-Level Steering Group and later to the Independent Accountability Panel. She also serves as a SheDecides Champion alongside other global leaders pushing for sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality around the world. She is the former Board Chair of Fòs Feminista where she co-led the transformation of the organization to an intersectional feminist alliance.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, postgraduate degrees in Higher Education and Executive Management, and an MBA in Human Resources from the Interamerican University of Panama. She also has a specialization in Public Policy from The George Washington University.

Jovana is an Afro-Indigenous descent woman, born and raised in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama.

Speaker: Natalia Lozano

Natalia is a young, Honduran feminist and activist for the human rights of women, LGBTQ+ and youth, with over 14 years of experience.

Natalia has a long-standing commitment to the defense of Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), leading her to become involved in initiatives such as Youth Representative in the National Advisory Council on Human Rights Honduras, 2014. She has actively participated in the Network of Young Parliamentarians, identifying the main needs of Honduran youth from a legislative perspective through meaningful youth consultations. Natalia also contributed to the implementation of the Diploma in Parliamentary Techniques and Political Negotiation for the National Congress of Honduras with the Center of Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH) in 2015.

During the last 4 years, she has developed experience with national, regional and international advocacy. She is the former National Coordinator of the Honduran platform, Right Here, Right Now, which provided support to 15 organizations working for SRHR and prioritized the diversity of young people.

This path eventually led Natalia to regional and international advocacy, such as Youth Advocate for the Third Regional Conference on Population and Development at Lima, Perú, as well as Youth Advocate for the Commission and Status of Women (CSW 62 and 63) at the United Nations in 2018 and 2019, becoming part of the Honduran Official Delegation in 2019.

Natalia was a youth speaker at the Women Deliver Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada in 2019. She also followed up on the commitments of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi, Kenya and was invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as speaker at the preparation meeting for the ICPD in Puebla, México. Natalia also advocated for youth at the 14th Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago de Chile in 2020. This experience led to the creation of the Youth Shadow Universal Periodic Report, which Natalia presented in 2020 with the Right Here, Right Now Honduran Platform.

Natalia is a native Spanish speaker and speaks English as a second language.

Moderator: Adriana Beltrán

For more than twenty years, Adriana Beltrán has championed the promotion of policies and strategies to advance the rule of law and social justice in Central America. She has extensive experience addressing human rights, corruption, and governance related issues, and has worked closely with a wide range of civil society organizations, activists and networks in Central America, government officials, and multilateral entities.

Before joining SIF, Beltrán served as Director of the Citizen Security Program for the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a U.S.-based research and advocacy organization, where she monitored U.S.-Central America relations and promoted policies to address the drivers of migration, improve government accountability and transparency, and promote human rights in Central America. During her time at WOLA, she championed numerous advocacy initiatives, including for the establishment of a UN-sponsored commission to investigate and prosecute illicit networks linked to the state– an effort that culminated in the creation of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in 2007. Most recently, she developed and oversaw a regional project to assess how the policies and strategies being implemented in Central America are contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law, improving transparency and accountability, and to reducing violence and insecurity.

She has written and co-authored various reports and articles on citizen security, corruption, governance, and democracy in Central America and on U.S. policy toward the region, including Protect and Serve? The Status of Police Reform, and Hidden Powers, a ground-breaking study documenting the rise and impact of illegal armed groups in post-conflict Guatemala. She has testified before U.S. Congress and is a frequent commentator in the media.

Beltrán was born and raised in Colombia and has traveled extensively in Central America and the region. She holds a Master’s degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

Share This Event

bottom of page