I am the Projects Director at Fundación Si Mujer, and have worked here since 2013. One of our main objectives is to strengthen youth leadership in order to open up conversations about access to safe and legal abortion.
The young people we work with tell us stories about how the training programme we run has allowed them to walk out of unhealthy relationships or have open conversations with their families about gender, gender violence, sexuality andabortion. At a community level we are seeing that many of our young leaders are pushing for social justice related issues in their schools. To see young people leading such change is inspiring.
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely put a strain on all of us. We had to be very creative in adapting our educational methodologies to be able to continue our workonline and maintain young people’s interest. We made changes to our SAAF budget to make monthly transfers to each young person – to cover data plans for their phones and essential supplies for their families. Our focus is on working with young people from less privileged backgrounds, so we needed to reduce barriers to connection and to support families during this difficult time.
It was a very challenging but also creative period for Si Mujer and we believe that the quality of our work was not significantly affected by the pandemic. New young people who joined during lockdown have remained super engaged and they are sharing similar stories of change to those we heard from young people before the pandemic.
The political situation in Colombia paralyzed the country earlier this year.
Cali, where we are based, was the epicentre of political demonstrations, mostly led by young people. It was very powerful to see how our young leaders sought to get involved in the social protests. In some cases, they even took advantage of these social mobilizations to discuss issues like sexual violence, equity, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. It was inspiring to see them take advantage of this opportunity, and they are now fighting for their rights in larger social justice spaces.
Although abortion was legalised in three circumstances by the Constitutional Court in 2006, abortion is still in the Penal Code in Colombia. Enforcing the 2006 ruling has been slow and access varies from region to region. I hope that we will finally see full decriminalisation soon as a result of the ‘Causa Justa’ campaign. But whatever happens, I am certain our young people will continue to be involved in the campaign for better access to safe abortions.
At Si Mujer we are fighting so that a girl or woman with an unwanted pregnancy, knows that abortion is her right, is supported by others and knows how to access it safely.
If abortion is fully decriminalised in Colombia it sends an important message to women and society that abortion is accepted. I’m very proud of the work we do at Si Mujer – supporting a new generation of young people who will always be there to accompany and support someone seeking a safe abortion.