Land Rights are Women’s Rights

Photo by: USAID Colombia Land and Rural Development

An innovative program for rural women affected by the armed conflict strengthens their land rights and empowers them as leaders and decision makers

Originally appeared on Exposure.

A WOMEN-FOCUSED GOVERNMENT

The lives of campesino women from Northern Cauca have not been easy. The armed conflict has fiercely infiltrated their homes, leaving an aftermath they cannot erase. They have had to fight to find a way to survive together with their children, some who still have their husbands, and some who are now widows.This situation led, in 2013, to women from the department of Cauca uniting and successfully pressuring the departmental government to create a special agency for women. These joint efforts led to the creation of the Secretariat for Women in Cauca.

In 2015, with the support of USAID and the Secretariat for Women, the Itinerant School for Rural Women was created. Its objective is to develop community participation and awareness about gender-based approaches to land and property rights, the economy, and production initiatives.

In one year, 480 women from 15 municipalities participated in this school, whose goal is to gradually serve the 42 municipalities of Cauca and spread its message to more than 3,000 women.

In the municipality of Suárez, and over a period of three months, 30 women completed the school’s four different modules. Among these women were cacao and aloe growers who have taken advantage of these tools to protect their land and move their business plans forward.

“It has been very helpful to learn how to value myself as a person and to value my skills. Working the land is not just for men, and I have been able to grow my crops successfully together with my children. We learned when our rights are being violated. I am contributing to my society through my work, and what I have done is very valuable,” asserts María Ascensión Choco, an aloe grower from Suárez.

Read the full photo essay on Exposure.

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