Colectiva MIAU, Ecatapec de Morelos, Mexico

The Community Feminists from the Barrio

The collective offers support to women, children, and young victims of violence and promotes community participation.

Imagine being an exceptional young student with big dreams in a community plagued by violence and poverty. One day, your university closes for political reasons, leaving you and 750 others without a chance to complete your degrees.

This happened to the founders of Colectiva MIAU in 2010. They were five students that joined the movement to protest the closure of their public university. They organized mobilizations and promoted educational and cultural activities, but saw greater opportunities to engage and empower their community.

From this experience, MIAU (Independent, Autonomous, and Urban Movement) was born, with an acronym created to reflect they independence and commitment to their beliefs, separate from the politics that impacted their lives.

Their initial goal was to support women and girls in Ecatepec and to empower them on their rights, starting out by leading educational workshops on sexual and reproductive rights, public health, and environmental issues. But as their work grew, they evolved into a meaningful presence for people of all ages.

MIAU’s relationship with CAMY Fund which began in 2022, has been built on trust. CAMY funds MIAU directly and trusts them to create programming that makes a difference in their community, and they were able to expand from 5 to 25 team members (mostly volunteers). With CAMY Fund’s flexible support, MIAU established their own office space, using the courtyard to host workshops for women, adolescents, and children centered on emotional support and self-care. The office itself has taken on a second purpose as a secure space for women escaping domestic violence, even in the middle of the night. MIAU is often the first stop for these women, and the only one offering to pick them up and provide them temporary shelter.

MIAU meets the community where they are. They started an outreach campaign to connect with young working women in the hopes of providing supportive workshops and services, but very few showed up. They went to workplaces and spoke with the women directly, realizing that their immediate worries were around earning an income; being empowered on their rights was important but secondary to providing for their families. Instead, MIAU gave them tools for emotional and mental wellbeing that they could practice at work and home and share with their colleagues.

CAMY is immensely proud of the work MIAU has done in their fourteen years. MIAU’s members, who call themselves the “Community Feminists from the Barrio”, have created safe spaces in their community and grown their programming incrementally. For MIAU, this means growing the love, commitment, and accompaniment they can provide. The meaning of this was evident when they held a local fair last November and both young and older people wanted to hug them out of appreciation. MIAU knew then that not only did they care for their community, but it cares for them too.

Learn more about Colectiva MIAU here.

“It has been a journey full of learning, but each challenge has made us stronger and more committed to our mission. The support of CAMY Fund has given us the strength to keep moving forward.”