“Through Canada’s support, we will ramp up psychosocial and legal support to women survivors of violence, and carry out educational programs on human rights that will allow women to become active citizens and agents of change.”
Yolanda Becerra, Organización Femenina Popular (OFP)
Yolanda Becerra is determined to give Colombia’s Peace Accord a chance, even in the context of an increase in attacks against human rights defenders. She works endlessly to protect women and their rights in this new post-conflict era.
While the decades-long conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) ended in 2016 with the signing of the Final Accords to the Conflict in Colombia, the peace process period has been marked by conflict. With 220,000 civilians killed and more than six million displaced, Colombian women are committed to ending the atrocities for good. However, other armed guerrilla groups and paramilitary organizations have continued to commit serious abuses against civilians, human rights defenders, and peace activists, particularly women. Women have been the war’s main victims through gender-based violence at the hands of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
Despite these threats, KAIROS’ partner in Colombia, Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), works with determination to implement the peace process across the country. A grassroots feminist organization founded in 1972, OFP is one of the largest and most well-respected women’s networks in the country. The OFP team, including Yolanda, educates communities on the details of the peace accords to help them to act upon the agreement within their own regions.
The OFP’s programming is rooted in empowering women. Their casas de mujeres (women’s centers) offer psycho-social counselling, human rights training, and legal support to female survivors of violence. They also include community kitchens that provide affordable meals to impoverished women and their families.
Global Affairs Canada provides matching funding to the Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security program, including the Organización Femenina Popular. Donors who choose to designate the much-needed matching funds will be sending a global message that women’s voices matter, and can create lasting change.
This support will help the organization advance its work in implementing peace processes in the seven municipalities where it works. Even though a number of OFP’s leaders have been targeted and assassinated for their defense of human rights, the organization persists in search of peace. They had a seat at the table of the national peace negotiations, and will continue to defend human rights for women across the country.
KAIROS has been working with OFP since 2001.