Public policies for gender equality: An opportunity to strengthen democracy in Colombia

September 15, 2022

Public policies on gender equality are one of the main tools that women have to access their rights and through which states reflect their political will to strengthen democracy.  Such policies are aimed to settle historical debts that society has reducing inequality gaps between men and women. 

However, one of the main challenges for the exercise of democracy in Latin America and particularly in Colombia is the level of distrust that women and citizens in general have toward government institutions. According to the results of the 2021 Latinobarómetro -a public opinion survey conducted in 18 LATAM countries-, in Colombia, trust in the government is at 25%, in the judiciary at 23%, in Congress at 14%, and in political parties at 11%. This is partly explained by the high levels of bureaucracy, the delay in processing cases in judicial institutions, and the barriers that women in particular face in accessing these services.

In this sense, the Vamos Tejiendo project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and implemented by Pact, has decided to use its governance model to serve as a bridge between the community and public institutions to strengthen the capacities of officials responsible for formulating public policies and, while simultaneously supporting the processes of citizen participation to ensure that women are heard and included. This strategy boosts women's confidence in accessing institutional services. 

Vamos Tejiendo, together with the mayor's offices of the municipalities in which it works, has carried out diagnostic exercises to identify the needs and expectations of women regarding their access to services. The project has ensured the participation of women flower growers, women sugarcane (panela) producers, community leaders, union leaders, and young women from schools.

At the same time, Vamos Tejiendo has offered technical assistance to the teams that formulate public policies on women and gender so that they can include in their action plans; 1) formulate and implement care policies and plans that allow care work to be a matter of co-responsibility between the state and families, 2) design campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of distributing domestic work among all members of the household, 3) design strategies that  promote income generation through food processing and agro-ecological practices, especially for rural women, 4) Incorporate strategies for decentralization of care work, prevention and justice services, including brigades in different neighborhoods and villages, while  extending assistance hours that make it easier for women to attend outside of the workday. 

With this panorama, the project expects to continue promoting in the municipalities' agenda the challenges faced by women to participate in public affairs with all the guarantees, and to generate positive conditions so that public entities are the ones that guarantee this space for listening and co-designing public policies with women, key elements to talk about democracy. 

Vamos Tejiendo is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, under cooperative agreement number IL-33989-19-75-K. 100% of the total cost of the Project is funded with federal resources totaling $5,000,000. The contents of this material do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor. Mention of trade, product, or organizational names does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.