Established in 1983 and based in New York City, MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that funds like-minded leftist groups and causes around the globe. MADRE identifies its founders as “a group of women activists, poets, teachers, artists and health professionals [who] traveled to Nicaragua to witness the impact of the U.S.-sponsored contra war” against the Marxist Sandinista regime. “What they saw,” says MADRE, “horrified and angered them. They met with [Nicaraguan] women who showed them day care centers, schools and clinics that had been bombed by contras supported by the U.S. government. These [MADRE] women returned to the U.S. … to bring the stories of Nicaraguan women and children to the attention of the U.S. public and mobilize people to demand a change in U.S. government policy.” One of MADRE’s founding members was the actress Susan Sarandon.
Counting the United States among the world’s foremost violators of human rights, MADRE seeks to “communicat[e] the real-life impact of U.S. policies on women and families confronting violence, poverty and repression around the world,” and to “demand alternatives to destructive U.S. policies.”
Focusing its attention principally on women who are victimized by human rights violations, MADRE sends “shipments of food, medicine, educational supplies and other material aid” to those in need; and it “supports community development programs and training that enables women to play leadership roles in their homes, communities, countries and the international arena.” Its issue priorities include “health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights.” The organization lists the following countries as those where its efforts are concentrated: “Columbia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Palestine, Peru, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, [and] Sudan.”
MADRE’s current programs include the following:
Partnerships for Change: This campaign “supports community development programs and training that enables women to play leadership roles in their families, communities, countries, and the international arena.”
Humanitarian Aid: This program “provides critical shipments of food, medicine, educational supplies and other material aid to our sister organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.”
Human Rights Advocacy: “While relief shipments enable our sister organizations to respond to immediate needs, MADRE’s human rights advocacy program promotes long-term social change.”
Public Education: “Based on the experiences of our sister organizations, MADRE educates its 23,000 members in the U.S. to demand alternatives to destructive U.S. policies.”
While billing itself as “an alternative to war and violence,” MADRE took part in an October 2000 rally to “Support the Just Palestinian Resistance” and “End U.S. Aid to Israel.” Eleven months later (twelve days after the 9/11 attacks), MADRE endorsed a rally that was co-sponsored by a long list of jihadi organizations, including the Hamas front groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Islamic Association for Palestine.
The Founding Director of MADRE is Kathy Engel, a self-described poet/activist who currently serves as a consultant for the United For Peace and Justice antiwar coalition.
On the domestic front, MADRE was a Cosponsoring Organization of the April 25, 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” held in Washington, D.C., a rally that advocated unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
MADRE receives financial support from the Boston Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the Milwaukee Foundation, the New Mexico Community Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Seattle Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.