International Human Rights Day
OFP Celebration of Women Human Rights Defenders
This year on December 10, International Human Rights Day, KAIROS partner, the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Barrancabermeja, Magdalena Medio, Colombia, celebrated the lives of Women Human Rights Defenders like Evangelina Marin Rueda, teacher and Union leader. In its fifty years of work, the OFP has embraced the struggles of women for their rights and the right to live in peace. Colombia has been shaken by social struggles, human rights violations, persecution and forced displacements. The Magdalena Medio region’s history of military and paramilitary violence has left deep wounds on the civilian population. The polarization of the struggles forced civilians to take sides, dividing families, neighbourhoods and regions. The OFP was born in the middle of the conflict, and has voiced the suffering of many families, especially women who lost loved ones and struggled for peace and a dignified life for themselves and their families.
The focus on defense of territory for women, peace and community has centred the OFP’s vision and actions around protecting the lives and spaces that women inhabit, helping them to connect through their work and lives. The OFP’s work has supported and amplified the voices of many women and their struggles, providing them with tools and skills to continue the fight, and to teach others in an expanding wave of organized women in their territories.
From letter campaigns to marches, the OFP has mobilized thousands of women for peace and security. In alliance with other social actors of the Magdalena Medio and the Catholic Church, these mobilizations were successful, obtaining unexpected results, opening dialogues and bringing justice to hundreds and thousands of women and their families.
Human rights defenders have been at the center of the OFP history. Women like Evangelina and Yolanda Becerra, national coordinator of the OFP, have paved the road for fifty years, defending and strengthening women’s rights in the Magdalena Medio Region and Colombia. Building on this history, this December 10th, the organization celebrated, along with many friends and neighbours, the trajectory and lives of women human rights defenders, honouring the life and achievements of Evangelina Marin. People from all the regions where the OFP operates, shared and raised their voices for a better future in Colombia, where human rights are protected, and the lives of defenders are guaranteed. The OFP invited all to dialogue in defence of life, territory and peace and to vindicate the memory of Evangelina Marín Rueda, and other human rights defenders who have left such a legacy in the Magdalena Medio region and in Colombia.
|Silvia Vasquez-Olguin, Global Partnerships Coordinator, Latin America and Gender Justice, KAIROS Canada.|