The Tale of the 2023 Women Defenders Gathering

Once upon a time, there was a bird on a beach…

Once upon a time, ten lionesses…

Once upon a time, twenty women defenders…

Between 15 and 18 February, 25 women came together in La Mesa, Cundinamarca. Women from different Colombian territories and PBI accompaniers from several countries: San José de Apartadó, Cali, Vistahermosa, and Puerto Rico in Meta, Bogotá, Catatumbo, Remedios, Sur de Bolívar, Barrancabermeja, Puerto Asís, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. The youngest woman among us was 24 years old and the oldest was 72. We came from organizations such as ACVC, ADISPA, ASCAMCAT, CAHUCOPANA, CAJAR, the Peace Community, CSPP, CREDHOS, DH Colombia, Karisma, LIMPAL, MOVICE, NOMADESC, and PBI. Each with our stories, our dreams, and our pain.

All these women came together for four days:

Women human rights defenders at the 2023 Women Defenders Gathering, with PBI accompaniers

We start with our names to begin recognizing ourselves. This is almost the first thing we are told at birth, and we use to name and identify ourselves, a first step to build trust.

We recognize ourselves from our territories, our places of resistance, creativity, healing, and memory.

In a circle, we conversed and created several stories that talked about us

Working together, from a place of spontaneity, intuition, and fun, we built the new worlds we imagine for our great-great-granddaughters, peaceful and diverse worlds. We remember how sharing this world we imagine and desire gives us hope.

We created a mural, drawing and painting the world we imagined for our great-great-granddaughters

And we met again through play, sharing knowledge that we hope to conserve over time, as it is essential for the world we imagine. We want this knowledge to be passed from generation to generation, like a story that is told or a song sung around the fire. Together we built two stories, about lionesses, birds, and a woman named Laura who went to the moon. To the moon? Yes, and she left, just…. like…  that…

Represent the Recipes of Resistance, with knowledge that we hope will not be lost

Knowledge emerged from the group on midwifery, healing with herbs and stones, spirituality, knowledge on how to plant, how to stay balanced on a Slackline, conflict resolution, weaving, etc.

We looked into each other’s eyes and talked, while massaging the other woman’s hands

We talked from a sphere of intimacy about how to heal ourselves, how to feel better, and how this helps us to make a contribution to the world. We saw our hands and our feet, everything we create and move with them, and we massaged each other’s hands and feet, with the care of being present for each other. And, we created our own fire, a collective fire that went on, and on, and on, and on….

Some women showed their admiration by massaging the older women’s feet

This went on like a spiral,

A collective embrace after remembering the days we spent together

it went on like a mandala,

Final moments, evaluation the gathering and thanking the women

it went on like Mbele Mamma…

And so it was that 25 women came together and, for four days, we were a community. And with that, this chapter ended.

PBI Colombia


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