Lucha Castro

Luz (Lucha) Estela Castro Rodríguez is a Mexican woman human rights defender. She has spent the last eighteen years working on cases of torture victims, femicide, enforced disappearances, trafficking, and domestic and sexual violence.

Her work focuses on strategic litigation, advocacy and the promotion of comprehensive support for women in situations of gender violence, including building their capacity to exercise their rights in court. As a lawyer, she has provided free legal representation to hundreds of women. She has also promoted change in other forms of discrimination and violence faced by women in Mexico, in particular regarding property and housing rights. Lucha has founded several social organizations, tirelessly defended women’s and human rights, and promoted women’s leadership in her community and her country.

In 1994, she pioneered peaceful civil resistance in her home state in defense of families and particularly women whose heritage was at risk because of the economic crisis in Mexico. She managed to renegotiate debts with hundreds of banking institutions, thereby ensuring the housing rights of women and families. In the early 2000s, she founded—along with mothers of missing and killed women and girls in Ciudad-Juárez and Chihuahua—the organization Justice for Our Daughters, which she directed and for which, to date, she remains as the main legal adviser, providing free legal assistance to these mothers, and serving as their representative at local and international levels.

In 2005, she founded the organization Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (Center for Human Rights of Women) in Chihuahua, which she currently directs. She is also a cofounder of the Women in Black Network in Mexico, and in 2010 cofounded the Network of Human Rights Defenders and Families of Missing People in northern Mexico.

She has been nominated for several awards, including in 2003 of the Woman of the Year award in Ciudad-Juárez, was a finalist for the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2010, and in 2011 was distinguished by one of the most influential media outlets in Mexico as one of the one hundred women leaders in the country. In 2011 she won the International Prize for Human Rights from the Pro–Human Rights Association of Spain.