For women free of violence
Article by the Community of Practice for Non-Violence Against Women
Province of Colombo-Venezolana
Gender-based violence has been prevalent across Latin American throughout much of its history; for that reason, it is considered a public health problem by the World Health Organization. In fact, the Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean reported that 4,555 women were victims of femicide in 2019, the second-highest rate of any world region. The COVID-19 health emergency has further exacerbated this situation and increased social inequalities in terms of access to rights. Furthermore, the levels of vulnerability faced by women and families have intensified due to factors such as unemployment and family conflict caused by home confinement, which has been reflected in an increase in domestic violence and violence against women.
Consequently, the Province of Colombo-Venezolana is committed to the struggle to achieve respect for human rights, particularly for women and their families. It achieves this through the work of El Buen Pastor Foundation, which was established in 2003 to run the mission in Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba. It carries out its activities from a human-spiritual approach and promotes the values of justice, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
The Foundation has been implementing innovative strategies as an intervention response to achieve lives free of violence. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the mission has been adapted to be delivered online by using technology to offer spiritual guidance, counseling to improve emotional resilience, psychological first aid care, promote self-care, make referrals to support networks, and raise awareness on violence against women. In addition, economic independence has been increased by carrying out joint projects that promote and develop women entrepreneurs to achieve financial inclusion through activities such as business management support, life plan support, resilience skills building, and empowerment.
One of the El Buen Pastor Foundation programme participants.
To complement this work, the Province’s Community of Practice for Non-Violence Against Women launched the ‘Women Free of Violence’ (in Spanish) campaign in October 2020. This campaign has created opportunities for training to understand better the risk factors of violence against women, and developed reporting and support paths for the restoration of their rights.
Implementing these strategies has impacted the family dynamics of 195 women who have achieved to coexist peacefully, have their rights recognized, and have access to these rights. Furthermore, 26 women received financial support to develop their businesses and, as a result, have achieved economic justice.
When intervening in gender-based violence, it must be taken into account that the road is long, but it is not endless. Every day we fight to contribute to the eradication of violence against women and generate better life opportunities.