Women Defenders: An Example of Strength and Resilience

Today, on the Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we celebrate all women human rights defenders, especially those who face constant aggression and threats because of their leadership in addition to a wide range of violence related to the fact that they are women. Eradicating violence against women and girls is essential. They are key to peacebuilding, protecting the environment, and eradicating violence; all issues that are essential to dignify life and enjoy more just societies. We interviewed five women,[1] with whom we have walked over the years. On this 25 November, we invite you to get to know these women as examples of strength and resilience.

Lucy Martínez, in charge of “Women and Gender” at Cahucopana (Nordeste Antioqueño)

“As women we contribute our strength. For decades, even if we were not recognized, we have resisted in the territory: we can stand up to armed groups, we can encourage the women around us”

Ninfa Cruz, social leader and woman human rights defender at Cospacc (Casanare and Boyacá)

“As women human rights defenders we are the most important people in social initiatives because we organize, we bring people together, we weave. We are fighters. We do not let fear stop us, we continue to stand strong, we continue demanding our rights”

Silvia Garzón, member of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (Urabá, Antioquia)

“In this process of peaceful resistance, as women, we are an essential motor. In spite of the persecution and deaths, we always raise our voices. Bullets conquer but do not convince. We will stand firm”

Annye Páez, lawyer and responsible for the peace and human rights area at  the ACVC (Magdalena Medio)

“Women take on the role of sustaining, not letting others fall. As women peasants we continue lifting up and defending the territory. And we can also go out to fight, speak, and have political arguments like any traditional male leader”

Alejandra Garzón, lawyer and woman human rights defender at Dh Colombia (Bogotá)

“As women we have this transformative power, power to jointly construct a different country: building in solidarity, equality, and equity. Even though we have won some political spaces or power, this does not mean that sexism and the patriarchal system no longer exist”

[1] The interviews are from early 2022 in the context of the Gathering of Women Defenders organized by PBI Colombia, where women human rights defenders from diverse regions of Colombia came together amid that diversity to share their struggles and tools for collective transformation.

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