In Colombia, These Women Learn To Overcome Violence and Make a Living

March 7, 2013


“I´ve learnt to get to know women's right, and to have a higher self-esteem,” Jasmin Clavijo (left) says.

World Bank

  • 1,300 women participate in various workshops that allow them to overcome the effects that violence has left in them. This is part of the project “Golondrina” or Swallow, supported by a World Bank donation.
  • The project targets women between 15 and 25 years, in some regions of the country with high levels of violence against them.
  • In these workshops, they also receive support to start small companies.

“I´ve learnt to get to know women´s right, and to have a higher self-esteem,” Jasmin Clavijo says confidently. She is from Soacha, in the Cundinamarca department.

The young girl laughs with her friends when the group tries to pass a small ball from one place to the other, using only plastic tubes. They are learning to work in a group.

Jasmin is one of the 1,300 women that participate in workshops for victims of violence, part of a project called “Golondrina” or “Swallow”, supported by a World Bank donation.

Create their own life project

This project targets women between 15 and 25 years old, in some municipalities of Antioquia, Cauca, Nariño, Cundinamarca and Atlántico, regions considered as having high level of violence against them.

Rocio Castro, one of the instructors in the project, explains that the objective of these workshops is to support the women so that they know and exercise their rights, to empower them, and also to teach them how to create small companies that allows them to make a living.

Violence against women comes in many forms and places. It can be at home, at school or at work. In Colombia, the situation of armed conflict complicates the security of the women and girls in the affected areas, as well as the opportunity of having their own life project.

Moreover, being a woman can mean more poverty and social marginalization. In general, there are more poor Colombian families with a female head of household (36.4%) than with a male one (33.1%), according to numbers of DANE, the National Administrative Department of Statistics.

" We all always have a dream. We might come from different regions, because we were displaced, vulnerable, but we all have a dream, and we want to accomplish it "

Hilda Grueso


“They’ve let me speak”

So how do the women achieve more opportunities for a better life and to overcome the violence they are victim of?

Firstly, the young women get together with the instructors of the workshops to talk about their experiences, learn about their rights, discuss their goals in life and talk amongst themselves.

“Here, I learnt to be me, that I am worth a lot, to value myself, to experience what I feel and say what I feel. They’ve let me talk,” says Jasmin.

 “For me this meeting amongst us is important, to value ourselves and our goals and life projects,” explains Hilda Grueso, participant in Soacha.

The workshops adapt themselves to the situation of the communities: they are different if they are in a city, or in a rural area, or if there are different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The women also learn the basic aspects of entrepreneurship: they look at mathematics and communication, but also at how to develop their own business project.

In a third phase they receive technical support to formulate business plans, and also the money that they need to realize the project.

Until now, almost 120 business plans were formulated, every one composed of 4 women in average.

One of the objectives of the project is to help these young women to access higher and better education levels, and by that help them to be better integrated socially and economically. In this, the education sector and the National Service of Learning (Sena) have been key allies.

“We all always have a dream. We might come from different regions, because we were displaced, vulnerable, but we all have a dream, and we want to accomplish it,” explains Hilda, with a smile.

About the World Bank in Colombia

The World Bank is collaborating with Colombia on issues like peace and development by offering a whole array of knowledge, financial and convening activities, including loans for projects and other financial products, giving technical assistance and analysis, and bringing key stakeholders together.