Letter from Colombia

January was spent in the lovely land of Colombia. First stop was Bogotá where I spent two weeks working in the Limpal (WILPF) office translating documents and editing the English version website, next was a side trip to Medellin to visit friends and discover the ‘Paisa' lifestyle.

Tonight I am heading North to my final destination of Cartagena de Las Indias, where I will be meeting and participating in workshops with some of the women displaced by Colombia's armed conflict. These women are working together with Limpal to provide a voice and to secure rights for women in the region.

Whilst in Bogotá I had the exciting opportunity to attend the Colombian launch of the World Bank's 2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development, the event also included the release of the Regional Study on Work and Family: Latin American and Caribbean Women towards a New Equilibrium. The launch provided an overview and analysis of the report with a special focus on the Latin American and Caribbean context. A question and answer session followed the presentation, providing an interesting insight into the gender equality reality in Colombia.

Rural women and migration was a common theme, with particular attention being given to problems associated with the high proportion of children being raised by grandparents or a third party carer in order to enable parents to move to urban areas. Also revealed was the report's finding that Colombia's growing rate of adolescent pregnancy is in large part a consequence of the lack of employment opportunities for women in the country, with many young women (particularly those in rural areas) choosing, in light of a lack of real job opportunities, to start a family and to forgo further study or training. In response to this finding the Office for Gender Equality has announced the development of a Government program aimed at providing greater employment and access for young Colombian women. Speakers included the Director for the World Bank in Mexico and Colombia, the Colombian High Commissioner for Women's Equality, Ana Revenga, co author of the World Bank Report and Laura Chioda, author of the Regional Report on Women and Work.

A particularly spirited address was given by the Civil Society representative Florence Thomas, Director of the Group, Women and Society and Ana Maria Ibáñez researcher from the Colombian Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Económico (CEDE) analysed the report from an economic perspective.

Apart from that it's been all sun and speaking Spanish! Hasta luego!

Dominique Lardner