Virginia Martes Velásquez

Hillary Clinton Award | 09/27/2019

Virginia Martes Velásquez defends women's rights in Choloma, Honduras.

Virginia Martes Velásquez empowers women and defends human rights in Choloma, Honduras.

Velásquez is the founder of the Movimiento de Mujeres de la Colonia López Arellano (MOMUCLAA). Based in Choloma, Honduras, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, MOMUCLAA provides legal and psychological services to women survivors of violence, including filing restraining orders and filling out asylum applications. They also mediate community conflicts, collaborate with health centers, help fund childcare centers and night schools, and find workarounds to government inaction. MOMUCLAA works to empower women through trainings on women’s rights and gender equality, self-esteem, and sex education.

MOMUCLAA also mobilizes women to demand basic services and advocate for peace in their communities, and has lead the charge for enacting local government reforms. Since its founding in 1990, the group has collected 50,000 signatures that pushed the Honduran congress to pass the 1997 domestic violence law, and lobbied for funding for a walking bridge over a freeway, potable water, and a kindergarten. 

A lifelong champion for women in her community, Velásquez began organizing women to stand up to “machismo” when she was 23. Today, at the age of 72, she continues to lead MOMUCLAA and its 680 members. Velásquez is the mother of nine children.