The strong network of human rights organizations in Peru was fundamental to the success of the
Ombudsman's office since its inception in 1996, providing much of the professional staff of this agency
as well as ongoing technical assistance. At the same time, the moral stature and perceived effectiveness
of the Ombudsman has legitimized human rights work and helped to generate public awareness of human
rights issues and interest in collaborating with the movement.
Another contributing factor in the quality and legitimacy of Peru's human rights movement is the
ongoing commitment to education. Grassroots church groups are heavily involved in these activities, and
there is a range of groups dedicated solely to education and training, which have their own national
network. In addition to training individuals and small groups of citizens, these organizations are
effectively conducting media outreach through radio and provincial television across the country. These
efforts have extended the commitment to human rights beyond a core of committed professionals, to
journalists, doctors and nurses, university students, peasant and community leaders, and schoolteachers
and children.
In addition, the Peruvian human rights movement has been successful in mobilizing international support.
This includes international financial assistance, media attention, and linkages with all major international
human rights organizations. USAID has offered critical support, not only through financial assistance,
but most importantly, by conferring legitimacy and the related protection it provides from domestic
The Women's Movement: Grassroots and Professionals
The Peruvian women's movement, along with that of Brazil and Mexico, has also been one of the most
successful in Latin America in the past three decades. Its strength, as well as its principal ongoing
challenge, lies in its efforts to bring together diverse groups of women around common objectives,
including a broad array of rural and urban grassroots community activists, feminist scholars and
professionals, and women from political parties and government.
Women have long formed the backbone of collective activities in fighting poverty and ensuring family
survival in Peru. Grassroots women's organizations proliferated as an emergency response to the
economic crisis of the late 1970s, then became permanent fixtures in society as poverty and
underemployment persisted in the 1980s and 1990s. The most important forms of poor women's
organizations are collectively known as 
organizaciones femeninas para la alimentacion
 (OFA), which
include mothers' clubs, community dining halls (
comedores populares
), and  Glass of Milk  committees.
In Peru today, an estimated 76,334 OFAs involve roughly 10% of the population as volunteer members,
and are providing basic food assistance to an estimated 49.5% of all households, as well as promoting
educational and income generation activities for women.
The relationships between these grassroots organizations and the State have always been problematic. On
one hand, many of them originated from government initiatives and most of them rely on national or
local government agencies for donated food and financial and technical assistance. While such public
assistance may be well intended, it reinforces the pattern of trading political favor for food. The Fujimori
administration has been no exception. Through the Programa Nacional de Apoyo Alimentario
(PRONAA) hundreds of new OFAs have been promoted, receiving important resources while at the same
time being encouraged to mobilize support for the President. Meanwhile, efforts to form intermediary
associations in this sector (such as the 
federaciones de comedores
) have met with official hostility, and
individual OFAs are discouraged from joining federations with the threat of loss of food. Hence, it has
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