Vamos Mujer collaborates with several women’s associations in Antiquoia region. These women have to confront the consequences of the armed conflict daily. Vamos Mujer has been active for 30 years and it is looking for concrete alternatives to improve life conditions of women from popular rural and urban areas. The association wishes to recreate trust and hope to reconstruct social fabric that was destroyed after the war.
In the North-West of Colombia, just like in other parts of the country, the internal conflict and everyday violence have serious impact on the population and on the country’s economy. Small producers are oppressed by big producers because of their land or because of the quality of their soil.
Violence, food insecurity, low level of schooling or illiteracy all lead to the fact that 75% of the population lives in poverty.
Women’s position is particularly serious
In rural areas it is often the woman that has to take care of all family burdens. In fact men and teenagers are either part of various armed factions or they go to the cities in order to avoid being forced into joining the armed conflict or simply to find a job.
However, women in Colombia are often excluded from the access to titles to land as well as from decision making regarding land. It becomes difficult for women who are victims of moving and land pillaging to prove their rights regarding this land, as they do not have any property titles and do not know the real surface area of abandoned and usurped estate.
« Men » of the family who had this information are no longer there.
What is more, education is hard of access to the majority of girls and there is no protection against physical and psychological violence of which they are often victims.
Violence against women
Militarization multiplies and reinforces violence against women. The fight for controlling land on behalf of national security forces, the army, the paramilitaries and the guerilla increases sexual violence and the orchestration of young women. These phenomena are strongly linked with the pillaging of lands as well as with the idea of inflicting punishment to warriors from opposing gangs by sexually abusing their women.
The life and the body of women are considered to be a means of control and power by diverse forces that fight against one another. The body has become a territory of violence.
Improve life conditions
The primary objective is to help women stay on their land. In order to improve their revenue and life conditions they study agricultural techniques to better farm their plots. They work together to transform production and to commercialize better.
They create and then sell different agro-ecological food products as well as beauty products (shampoos, essential oils, organic creams) in local shops that they operate or they sell them at agricultural fairs.
Make violence against women visible
Awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns are regularly organized.
One play was staged by a group of young people to denounce various types of violence that women are facing (physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, economic) and to attract the attention of authorities to this situation.
Various publicity campaigns passed on local radio and TV channels with the slogan “women also have the right to live without fear and violence” to bring awareness to the population on the issue.
Victims feel less lonely faced with the oppressor. Every woman acknowledges the situation and bonds between these women become stronger; a joint struggle is put in place.