Promoting peace and preserving the environment: Awà indigenous women meet MEP Mónica Silvana González

Five years after the Colombia Peace Agreement was signed between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), inequality and violence continue to persist in the country, affecting especially marginalised people and those fighting for their rights, in particular human rights defenders and indigenous community leaders.

Among the latter, the Awá community, composed of 31,000 people living in the jungles of the Southern Colombian Pacific, in the departments of Nariño and Putumayo, is fighting to get its voice heard by national and international authorities to denounce the violence the Awá people continue to be victims of, perpetrated by about 10 illegal armed groups that still occupy their territory, as well as to demand an end to the destructive exploitation of their land and natural resources. In particular, the Awá people are advocating against the use of Glyphosate pesticide, to preserve the natural resources from which they depend, as well as for the protection and empowerment of women and girls to ensure the transmission of indigenous knowledge and traditions.

SOLIDAR’s member Movimiento Por la Paz (MPDL) has been active in Colombia for the last 20 years fighting to build and foster a culture of peace in the country, and since 2018 it began its work with UNIPA, the Awá’s people self-government organisation (Awá People’s Indigenous Unit), supporting their struggles for peace, end to violence and preservation of their culture and environment. Over the last year, MPDL has been working with UNIPA on the project “Guardianas de la paz. A strategy for the prevention and protection of gender-based violence against Inkal Awá women and girls in Nariño, Colombia”, aimed at empowering women and young girls of the Awá community, who continue to be disproportionately affected by the ongoing armed conflicts.

Within the context of this project and with the facilitation of SOLIDAR, on Wednesday 17 March 2021, a meeting was held between two women leaders from the Department of Women and Family of UNIPA and MEP Mónica Silvana González (S&D). The former highlighted the difficult situation of Awá women who are often victims of harassment, threats and gender-based violence in their territory, and asked the EU to take action to support their calls for peace and preservation of their land and culture, recognising their role as crucial actors for change.

Through MPDL and its other member organisations, SOLIDAR will continue to monitor the peace process in Colombia and to fight alongside indigenous communities and others at risk.

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