Wednesday 25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Gloria, a passionate defender of women’s rights, talks about dedicating over 30 years of her life to preventing and ending violence against women in Colombia.
Gloria works at Organización Feminina Popular, a women’s group which is part of our Hands On Magdalena Medio peacebuilding project. Her commitment to social justice and women’s rights runs through her veins.
On this important day, Gloria reflects on the hardship faced by women in her own family and remains hopeful that a long-lasting peace can be achieved in Colombia.
What inspired you to work with Organización Feminina Popular?
I first came into contact with Organización Feminina Popular when I accompanied my aunt, who was one of the first presidents of the organisation.
These spaces shaped me as a woman. My mum couldn’t finish her education. She was a single mother, the head of the family, and she couldn’t support us to finish our studies. But with the support of Organización Feminina Popular, I was able to finish my education.
I was motivated to change women’s experience in the home – motivated to change the violence my grandmother and aunts lived through. So much social and political violence has touched our family again and again.
“The more women there are in leadership roles, the more women there are who know about their rights, their culture, their bodies, their lives and their feelings.”Gloria
Can you tell me more about Organización Feminina Popular’s support for women?
Organización Feminina Popular is a space for training women, empowering them to be independent – encouraging financial independence – and helping women to feel a sense of belonging to the territory.
We encourage them to participate and share their opinions. The more women there are in leadership roles, the more women there are who know about their rights, their culture, their bodies, their lives and their feelings.
How does the Organización Feminina Popular work toward building peace?
We continue to be partners with the Church, walking side by side in building peace, defending the territory and overcoming violence and set roles for women.
We work with young people on rebuilding hope, so they understand their rights and can believe in peace – to understand that they don’t have to be tied to war, to believe in life.
What are your hopes for the future?
I have many hopes for the future. We must continue to choose and really believe that peace is possible – a comprehensive peace. A peace securing dignity for the community. A peace for women which goes further than silencing the guns, but guarantees rights, the respect for life, safe streets and cities. A peace where young people have the option to study and have a life plan, and are able to live with dignity.
We continue to believe in this. We have to. We can’t lose hope.
Building peace and tolerance in Colombia
The work of Gloria’s organisation, Organización Feminina Popular, has been integrated into our three-year peacebuilding project called Hands On Magdalena Medio, which is helping to strengthen this women’s group.
Hands On Magdalena Medio is a jointly funded project by CAFOD supporters, our partner Peace and Development Programme and the European Union, aiming to promote a change in attitudes and behaviours, in the hope that communities will become more tolerant and peaceful.