Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women's Day

A flower for my lady. 
Today was International Women's Day, the 100th anniversary of the event.

In Colombia, where gender roles are generally traditional, the day was commemorated with flowers and tributes to women's dedication as wives, mothers and homemakers. In fact, women's lives are often difficult in Colombia.  I know many single mothers, because Colombian men don't appear particularly dedicated to sticking around to raise their children or paying child support.

Women are also victimized in Colombia's violent conflict, where armed groups use rape and forced displacement as weapons of war. According to the U.S. Office on Colombia "More than 480,000 Colombian women have suffered some type of sexual violence between 2002 and 2009 in areas where there is presence of the legal and illegal armed actors. Almost 90% of these crimes are not reported and those that are continue in impunity."


Posters recounting abuses against women in Colombia's conflict.
Colombians' obsession with beauty pageants also contributes to an image of women as no more than decoration for society. In various Latin American nations I've lived in I've heard of their women's attractiveness described almost as a natural resource, similar to hydrocarbons or gemstones.

A bus-shelter billboard informing about abortion rights.
The World Economic Forum's International Gender Gap Ranking placed Colombia 55th among 134 nagions. Perhaps surprisingly, the country did well in 'health and survival', ranking 40th, but poorly in 'political empowerment, ranking 83rd. Colombia was, however, perhaps the world's first nation to have a female minister of defense, and has had numerous prominent women politicians.

But, in a hard-drinking, machista nation, gender violence continues to be rampant. Reportedly, some 150 women suffer gender violence every day. In 2009, Colombia passed a law against violence against women.

Women demonstrators near the National University in Bogotá.
About five years ago Colombia's high court depenalized abortion in cases of rape, incest, when the woman's life is in danger or the fetus has a severe abnormality, giving it one of the more progressive abortion laws in Latin America.

The company CAFAM gave its annual women's achievement award to Ruth Consuelo Chaparro, who trains teachers to work in indigenous communities.

At the National University, women students demonstrated in the Plaza del Ché, put up some radical murals and then danced in the neighboring avenue, chanting against the police and the Catholic Church.

In Che Plaza: A new poster celebrating women guerrillas. It won't stay up long!

Across from the National U., police waited. 

These cops, watching from a pedestrian overpass, appeared to be entertained by the protest.
The demonstrators trapped a taxi.
A janitor cleaning up Che Plaza contemplates the pro-guerrilla poster. 
Marching back across campus. 
Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours



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