Luz Méndez for the Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)
Founded in 1980, UNAMG is one of the oldest women's rights organizations in Guatemala and was forced to operate in exile overseas for many years due to political repression in Guatemala. Luz Méndez has been at the forefront of the reconstruction of UNAMG since it resumed work in Guatemala in 1996..
It's dangerous work. In June this year Amnesty International reported that UNAMG has been the subject of raids where confidential information has been stolen. An Amnesty statement "fears for the safety" of individuals involved in women's rights organizations in Guatemala.
Luz Méndez is currently President of the Advisory Council to the Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas. She was formerly coordinator of the union, which promotes women's rights and gender equitable political participation in Guatemala.
Previously, from 1991 to 1996, Méndez participated in the Guatemalan peace negotiations following years of civil war and was one of the few women at the negotiating table. She advocated the incorporation of women's rights into the Peace Accords and has worked to implement the Accords.
The official citation from the Peter Gruber Foundation celebrates Méndez and the UNAMG for their "tireless work in ensuring women's leadership in peace-building and equitable political participation in Guatemala."
In addition to her work with UNAMG, Méndez has been a member of the advisory group of the Independent Experts' Assessment on Women, War and Peace, a study supported by the UN Development Fund for Women, and a member of the advisory council of the Global Fund for Women. Having pursued higher education in gender studies and business administration, she earned a master's degree in public administration as a Mason fellow at Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government in 2004. She has also been involved in advocating for the inclusion of women in peace processes around the world.
Méndez was one of the speakers during the first meeting the UN Security Council held with women's representatives, which preceded the approval of the SC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.