In Quibdo, the departmental capital city of Choco in the northwest region of Colombia, a pervasive, yet unspoken, crisis has affected the lives of generations of women and girls living amid violence, fear, and a sense of hopelessness. In an area of Colombia where poverty index rates are double the nation’s poverty index — at 64 percent — and where underreporting of sexual or intra-familiar violence against women is estimated at 75 percent, opportunities for women and girls to thrive in a safe environment are bleak. Compounding matters, Colombia’s brutal 50-year internal conflict has greatly magnified the repression of women’s and girls’ roles in society. In many cases, armed groups use sexual violence against women as a weapon of war to terrorize and control communities.
How this has shaped girls’ and women’s self-perception, self-worth, and well-being is at the heart of initiatives worked on every day by USAID’s Human Rights Program, which is implemented by Chemonics International with local grassroots women’s organization Red Departamental de Mujeres Chocoanas. With a participatory strategy aimed at equipping women and girls with knowledge about their rights, legal and psychosocial support, and networking and advocacy skills, USAID and Chemonics are empowering women and girls to reclaim their voices, lives, and rights.
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