As part of our options as Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary, from our origins we have prioritized the accompaniment of women, their growth and empowerment. In this month of March in which we commemorate the International Women’s Day, we want to share with you from the community of Puerto Rico, the work of a center that we have been supporting since 2015 in the presence of one of our sisters, who has been providing volunteer work and at this time is working in the same for two years.

On the 20th year of foundation of the Dominican Women’s Center, it is pertinent to share about this space that wants to be an oasis for many immigrant women, who knock on the door with the desire to find a welcome, a listening ear, understanding and solidarity. The Dominican Women’s Center (CMD) is a community-based, non-profit organization, founded in San Juan Puerto Rico on March 8, 2003, by the initiative of a Dominican immigrant named Romelinda Grullón, with a group of Puerto Rican women with sensitivity for this cause.

The center was created with the objective of responding to the problems faced by immigrant women who are victims of gender violence, sexual and labor aggression. Although its last name is Dominican, it welcomes women from all countries, but the largest population is Dominican. These women face a variety of problems in their daily lives, among which the following are identified: poverty, difficulty in integrating into a new migratory situation and cultural differences, low levels of education, difficulty in obtaining adequate employment, violence, mistreatment and abuse, racial discrimination and access to health services.

The mission of the CMD is to contribute to the integral growth of women through their personal, educational, economic, political, social and health care from a gender and empowerment perspective. According to studies that have been carried out with the women who receive services at the center: “Many of them are black women, with low educational and economic status, undocumented, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, harassment at work, among others. These identities place them in simultaneous situations of inequality based on their race, gender, social class and migratory status”.

The Center is the only organization in Puerto Rico that provides services to migrant women, offering social work services, individual psychological therapy, legal counseling and advocacy, healing workshops, socio-educational workshops, among others. It provides alternatives to women who are in the cycle of domestic violence, making them aware of the laws that protect them as migrants. When women are educated, recognize their rights and are empowered, they can leave the cycle of violence in which they have been, and what we call the process of transformation occurs, together with other migrant women, they undertake a path of personal growth in which they can then support other women and together take flight. The invitation would be to continue joining these initiatives in line with our identity and mission as MDR, to make this world a more humane and equitable one.

Hna. Yomaira Valenzuela-Puerto Rico.

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