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Celebrating Women
by Rachael Ferguson
May 14, 2023

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*Editor’s note: This blog is written by Rebecca Swanson Groves

Growing up

As someone who was encouraged regularly to pursue my dreams, whether in education, personal life, or career, those words of encouragement resound in my head. Even in elementary school, being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Many of us can relate to that question and the stress of planning our future while still in high school. But this is different for many in Colombia, especially women and children. So the Foundation is stepping in to start asking this question: “Where do you want to be/What do you want to do for your family now and for the future? Who do you want to be and what are your dreams?”

Walking with the Women

In recent years, Colombia has made significant progress toward gender equality, but there is still a long way to go. Women in Colombia continue to face a wide range of challenges, including gender-based violence, limited access to education and healthcare, and discrimination in the workplace.

As the Foundation comes alongside these women, we become agents of empowerment, tools, and resources for these women to utilize not only for their futures but for the futures of their children and families. One thing that sticks with me from my time spent with the Luchadora program in 2022, is the generational participation in the program. Mothers bring their daughters, who also brought their children to the program for respite and empowerment.

Mother’s Day and all days

As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, we want to recognize the burdens the women everywhere carry, but especially the challenges the women of Colombia face. Back in March, we also celebrated International Women’s Day. One day celebrates the beauty of motherhood, where the second day mentioned commemorates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements world wide! It is also a time to raise awareness about the ongoing fight for gender equality and to inspire action toward creating a more equitable world for women. The work of the Foundation looks to narrow these inequality gaps by resourcing, encouraging, and empowering women not just in Cartagena, but throughout the country.

The Program Today

This year there are 80+ women enrolled in the program, with the women offered an education at the hair salon, nail technicians, massage therapy, and facials. They also learn about financing, getting a business going, counseling, self-esteem workshops and resources on women’s rights.

Despite the progress made in recent years, there are still significant challenges facing women in Colombia. One of the most significant challenges facing women is the gender-based violence. This situation is especially acute in rural areas and in areas affected by the country’s armed conflict, where women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and forced displacement.

Women’s Rights

To address the issue, the Colombian government has taken steps to improve legal protections for the women. In 2015, the government passed Law 1761, establishing a comprehensive framework for addressing the violence against the women. While this has become recognized, the country has a long way to go to correct the problem. The law does include a measure to prevent violence, protect victims and punish perpetrators.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day and women in general, let us walk side by side with our Colombian sisters, making footprints with each others as we hope for a better future. Women’s rights in Colombia have come a long way in recent years, but much work still needs done. Join us as we work towards a better future for women in Colombia.

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