Colombia: Building a Culture of Peace

The Problem© LIMPAL

Nearly four million Colombians have been driven from their homes by a war that has lasted more than 40 years. Most displaced people are Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women and their children.

Those who have been displaced usually end up in overcrowded and impoverished urban slums, with no way to earn a living. They face ongoing violence, hunger, lack of water, sanitation, and electricity and are denied critical services such as healthcare and education. Children in these areas suffer high rates of malnutrition, respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, and dehydration.

The Solution 

MADRE works with women who have been displaced, helping them to meet their families’ urgent needs for food, shelter, and education. MADRE provides legal aid and counseling for those who have survived domestic violence and offers human rights and skills training so that women can advocate for their constitutional rights. Working with our Colombian partner organization, LIMPAL, MADRE provides humanitarian aid, income-generating activities for women, and a safe place for displaced families to gather. MADRE also supports a national campaign of public art performances and community radio productions to combat displacement, economic exploitation, and violence against women.

The Results

  • Women who have been displaced by war are becoming leaders in their communities as they advocate for their human rights.
  • As women earn income, provide for their families, and organize to demand their rights, they are transforming feelings of social dislocation and helplessness into a new sense of agency and hope for the future.
  • Women who have been uprooted are now demanding access to justice (including financial compensation) from the government.
  • Women are documenting human rights abuses and preparing to pursue legal challenges.
  • LIMPAL has drawn national and international attention to the critical situation of women and families in Colombia, contributing to a special 2002 United Nations report on socio-political violence against women and girls in Colombia and to the 2007 visit of the UN Special Rappateour on Violence Against Women to Colombia.