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Popular Education In Democracy Made Colombian Women Stronger

June 14, 2011

Education in democracy and human rights has improved the ability of women in northern Colombia to affect their own lives and their surroundings. More women going into local politics and an improved dialogue between politicians and citizens are two concrete effects of a SIDA-funded popular education project, according to a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Eva Nyberg followed the project Popular Education for Democracy in northern Colombia for three years. The project had a clear gender aspect and was run by the Colombian agricultural organisation ASEMCO and the Swedish non-profit organisation Malmö Tribunal. Forum Syd/SIDA provided financial support throughout the three years.

Awareness and participation

600 men and women from 16 villages and municipalities received basic training in democracy, human rights, gender and environmental issues.

‘My study shows that women became more politically aware and actively involved ““ their self-esteem and capacity to act improved. The new knowledge paved the way for empowerment of the women on a personal level and improved the prospects for sustainability of the democratic process,’ says Nyberg.

Increased respect

Nyberg’s thesis is based on interviews with women who participated in the project. Her analysis points to several concrete effects of the project:

    * The women have gained a legal basis for demanding their due rights, which has resulted in increased respect from men, institutions and the communities at large.
    * Alternative development plans in the 16 municipalities have been developed within the framework of the project, with a focus on for example education, health care and health inventories.
    * The number of women in the municipal committees has increased.
    * The project has resulted in a so-called dialogue table in the region’s largest region, San Pedro, for meetings between politicians/public authorities and citizens. One result of the meetings is that educational institutions have been established in the region.

‘The result will hopefully lead to aid projects and development cooperations adopting a stronger gender perspective. Women must be able to voice their opinions regarding inequality, power, development and democracy,’ says Nyberg.

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