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Student of CATIE contributes to the process of social reconstruction of Colombia after conflict

  • Through her graduation project, the student worked with Afro-descendant, indigenous and mestizo women affected by the armed conflict

July, 5th 2017. Diana Carolina Ávila, a student of the Academic Program for Development and Conservation (PAPDC in its Spanish acronym) of CATIE (The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), presented her graduation work on June 29th, in which Colombian women, affected by the armed conflict, participated in the development of productive initiatives, thereby making an important contribution to the process of rebuilding Colombia's social fabric after the conflict.

The work has been developed in three departments, Nariño, Cauca and Valle del Cauca involving about 150 women, including Afro-descendants, indigenous and mestizo women. The research responds to a need of the Spanish foundation Alianza por la Solidaridad (Alliance for solidarity) of analyzing and knowing the results of the process of accompaniment they gave in the past to women so they could establish their productive initiatives.

According to Ávila, the systematization focused on gathering experiences of the accompanying process that women went through to develop productive initiatives. This process showed women went through different stages, for example, some were victims of displacement and now they were able to create and developed their own businesses.

"The result I find most remarkable is that it was proved that women empowerment increased in all communities after the accompaniment received" Ávila expressed.

The work also showed results on the most successful experiences, as well as the barriers presented in the processes, and finally, contemplated the participatory construction of an agenda for the economic rights of women.

Isabel Gutiérrez, dean of CATIE Graduate School, and Felicia Ramírez, academic coordinator of CATIE's PAPDC, both co-directors of Avila's graduation work, agreed that peacebuilding is not possible without the effective participation of women.

In this sense, they affirmed that acting with determination in the empowerment of women is an urgent task that must summon all society , and Ávila’s work allowed to know the efforts that international cooperation and various institutions of the Colombian state are doing to support women who lived in the middle of an armed conflict and more importantly, their contribution in the creation of an agenda for the economic rights of women, seeking to consolidate their political capital to undertake advocacy processes that allow the access to development resources.

"This work was a very pleasant experience, mainly for the fact of being able to collaborate with it to the reconstruction of the social fabric of my country. In addition, it helped me to understand that there are contrasting realities and that the field is working for the reconstruction of peace. I applaud the capacity of resilience these women had, they are very brave, they have assumed a great role as peace builders in a key moment of post conflict because they are strong and empowered, "Avila said.

Ávila is a Colombian and holds a Master's Degree in International Development Practices; After graduating, she will return to her country to continue applying the acquired knowledge for a sustainable, equitable and inclusive rural development.


More information:
Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Advocacy
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