From words to action: A public policy for the rights of rural women in Colombia

April 3, 2023
A group of San Roque women at the launch of a new public policy for women and the inauguration of the Women's House, behind them. Credit: María Camila Chaparro/Pact

Edilia del Consuelo lives in San Roque, Antioquia, Colombia, with her daughter and three grandchildren. She is part of the municipality’s Women's Network, and she is thrilled that San Roque has adopted a new public policy to empower women and help guarantee their rights.

"I hope that with this new policy, we can participate in more decision-making spaces and obtain more knowledge that will allow us to empower ourselves more as women and as a group," she says.

Adopted in November, the policy’s goal is to “guarantee equality in the opportunities provided in the social, economic, political and cultural spheres for the effective enjoyment of women's rights at any moment of their life course." It is expected to be a key tool to reduce gender gaps here that affect equal opportunities.

Pact supported the San Roque mayor’s office in creating the policy as part of the Vamos Tejiendo project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and works to strengthen the rights and economic autonomy of women who are part of the sugar cane value chain in San Roque.

Nearly 11,000 women who live in the municipality will benefit from this new policy that has six lines of action: Peace Building and Cultural Transformation; Economic Autonomy and Access to Assets; Health, Sexual and Reproductive Rights; Education with a Gender Focus; Participation in Power and Decision Making; and Life Free of Violence for Women.

One of the highlights of this policy is the line of Economic Autonomy and Access to Assets that will promote greater employability and entrepreneurship opportunities for women. The average income for women in San Roque is USD $164 per month, while for men it is USD $185.

Teenagers who are part of San Roque's dance group perform a traditional dance at the Women's House inauguration and the launch of the public policy. Credit: María Camila Chaparro/Pact

The Vamos Tejiendo project supported the creation of the new policy in four phases. The first phase involved training local officers in charge of formulating the policy in technical and methodological tools to give women a leading role in the process. The second phase involved carrying out three focus groups with 57 women, including adults and young women, to identify their main needs. The third and fourth phases included formulating recommendations for the final policy document and its presentation to the Municipal Council for final approval.

Edilia has been part of the Vamos Tejiendo training process, in which she has received training in human rights, identification and prevention of violence against women, soft skills, communications and the care economy. It is hoped that this public policy will be the guarantor of an environment in which Edilia can exercise physical, economic and decision-making autonomy that will allow her to thrive.

Women who are part of San Roque's dance group perform at the inauguration of the Women's House and the launch of the public policy. Credit: María Camila Chaparro/Pact

New Women's House in San Roque

As part of the commemoration of International Day of Women’s Rights (March 8) and the socialization of the new public policy, the Women's Secretariat of the Government of Antioquia, the Mayor's Office of San Roque, the Gramalote Company and the Vamos Tejiendo project, delivered the new Women’s House, which aims to promote an autonomous and exclusive space for all initiatives that contribute to the improvement of the welfare of women in the municipality. This house will be an epicenter for meetings, trainings, public services and the development of economic opportunities.

During the inauguration of the Women’s House, a signing of the pact for women's rights was also held. The pact calls for institutional actors, private companies and civil society organizations to commit to specific actions to further the six lines of action of the public policy.

Vamos Tejiendo is 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.