For Mujeres Latinas en Accón (Latina Women in Action), empowering women isn't just about offering counseling, survivor support, and other services out of their three offices—it's about being an active and visible presence in the community. Whether it's the Women's March downtown, meetings with legislators in Springfield, or family festivals in Pilsen, the regal purple T-shirts make Mujeres an instantly recognizable force to be reckoned with.
"Mujeres has always been very rooted in advocacy," says Fanny Cano, development and communications manager. "It's our way to ensure that the best interests of the community and the clients we work for are being represented."
Founded in 1973, Mujeres bills itself as the longest-standing Latina organization in the country, serving more than 8,000 clients every year in English and Spanish. The founders recognized the need to help Latinas and their families in their own language and in ways that resonated culturally, but the communities served haven't always been receptive. The history of Mujeres is marked by what the organization describes as battles against "politics, social stigmas, and even personal threats." After a couple years being volunteer-run, the first staff was hired in 1975.
Today, the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault programs follow clients from initial intake, to legal advocacy, to individual and group counseling. All Mujeres' offerings are free or low-cost, and free childcare is available while clients are onsite accessing services.
Other services include a 24-hour domestic violence help line, after-school programs, referrals to medical and financial resources, leadership development, and citizenship workshops out of offices in Pilsen, North Riverside, and South Chicago. And, of course, there are plenty of opportunities for clients and members of the community to join the protests, meetings, and events that center the voices of Latinas and their families. v