Monica Aleman Cunningham, Ford Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Economic development and women's issues, Nairobi, Kenya

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Aleman Cunningham has spent her career championing social movements around the globe. She fits right in with Ford's grantmaking efforts in that very large arena.

PROFILE:Monica Aleman Cunningham works at the Ford Foundation's office in Nairobi, Kenya, as a program officer for its Protecting Women's Rights initiative. This program works on both global and national projects, with a special focus on the economic dimension of women's issues to "help build a sustainable and vibrant women's movement."

Before joining Ford, Aleman Cunningham spent time at the Foro Internacional de Mujeres (FIMI), also known as the International Indigenous Women's Forum. There, she worked with the U.N. and coordinated "Mairin iwanka raya: Indigenous Women Stand Against Violence." This report addresses the way in which the "needs, rights, and perspectives of Indigenous women would not be adequately reflected" in the United Nations' 2006 version of its "study on violence against women."

Prior to FIMI, Aleman Cunningham worked for MADRE, another globally focused women's rights organization. According to a nomination for her to speak at an NGO/UN World Summit, she helped MADRE to coordinate...

programs with partner organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, and [was] responsible for overall program development with partners worldwide. She also coordinate[d] human rights, HIV/AIDS, and leadership trainings for women and youth in countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico, and [led] educational delegations to the countries where she work[ed].

A fiery article she wrote for MADRE in 2007, "Violence against Indigenous Women," explains the strong connection she sees between imperialism, militarization, and the rise of "multiple forms of gender-based violence." In it, she describes the necessity of an "integrated analysis" to account for the "near-universality of sexual violence and the specificity of violence perpetrated on the basis of distinct, but overlapping, identities, such as gender and Indigenous status." Such analysis, she argues, is the only way to understand the struggle for women's rights.

Aleman Cunningham herself was born to an indigenous group, known as the Miskito, in Nicaragua. Her undergraduate work was in political science and international relations at the San Marcos campus of the University of Mobile, Latin America. She received her master's degree from the University of Popayan in Colombia. According to the NGO nomination mentioned above, she acted as assistant to the director of the Faculty of International Relations and Humanities between 1996 and 1999.

Featured in the video below, she gives a talk on feminism, the diversity of culture, and indigenous women at the National NOW Conference in Washington, D.C.

Cunningham can also be reached at the Ford Foundation's office in Nairobi, Kenya, where she works: ford-nairobi@fordfoundation.org.

VIDEO:

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