The Covid-19 crisis has exposed that there is a long road ahead of us to achieve gender equality. Although violence against women was already alarmingly high prior to the pandemic, in Colombia, as in other countries, an increase in domestic violence was reported following the measures to handle the health crisis.
The request of staying at home to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading forced some women to live together with men who assault them. Additionally, as some organizations are reporting, the more economic problems the crisis is generating, the more violence is experienced by women and girls.
Despite Colombian municipalities having helplines and other reporting mechanisms, sometimes these are not well known by women, so they do not know where and how to report when they are victims of violence. Knowing that, SKL International’s project in Colombia FOINCIDE, decided to design and implement a campaign to prevent violence against women in the four municipalities where it works. Together with the civil servants responsible for mainstreaming gender in each municipality, ways of reaching women where they actually are and the most suitable mechanisms to spread the messages to them were identified. Posters, flyers and messages were then designed with the help of the municipal teams.
A one-month long campaign was done in the four municipalities. Posters were put up in supermarkets, stores and parks; flyers were sent to the houses along with the food supplies distributed as an economic help during the quarantine, and a perifoneo (a message emitted through loudspeakers from a vehicle) was carried out in remote zones. Public servants who work in the gender offices spoke about the campaign as innovative, clear, and able to reach the entire municipality, even places where this message had not been transmitted before. In the same way, citizens found the messages useful to report violence against women.
Yet, much more is needed and FOINCIDE will continue working on strengthening the capacities of public servants in Colombia to address the existing gaps in gender equality.
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