Colombia acts to end exploitation and abuse
Sexual exploitation and violence is a big problem in Colombia. Rooted in gender inequality, it spans the tourism industry and gang activity, and quietly plagues countless households.
For years the stigma and fear surrounding this issue has dictated that girls and women silently suffer at its hands – that is, until you stepped in to break down barriers and stop the abuse.
To date, your generous support’s reached over 39,000 girls in the country, creating safer communities and helping protect every girl’s right to protect herself from all forms of violence.
Here’s how you’ve encouraged girls to tap into their strength, speak up and say “NO MORE.”
Rallying for rights: 4,000+ people took to the streets, pounding pavement, sign-in-hand, with messages like “I am the wall” and “Priceless is what’s valuable,” to combat sexual trafficking.
10,000+ community members united to learn how to prevent sexual violence, while campaigns, including the “Neither Bought nor Sold” campaign, reached 75,000+ people.
“Now I clearly understand what advocacy means,” says one motivated female participant.
3,000+ girls better understand their right to safety, freedom of expression and equality.
“Now I know I can achieve my dreams, that girls are not weak and that nobody should hurt me,” shares one young girl.
“We realized that stereotypes that girls are obedient or delicate violates our right to express our opinions and participate in decisions affecting us,” shared two female participants.
25,000+ adolescents can now access sexual and reproductive health services.
“I like the friendly services because they treat us well and teach us things about how to take care of ourselves,” explains one young woman who can now secure the resources she needs.
2,000+ caregivers and civil servants trained to prevent, detect and report sexual abuse.
“It allowed us to address such a sensitive issue that so far no one has approached due to ignorance and fear,” says a local teacher. “You guys did what should’ve been done a long time ago: making us aware of an increasing problem for students, previously looked at as normal.”
“We have a responsibility,” says a project-trained journalist. “These facts can no longer be ignored.”
450+ youth survivors of sexual exploitation were referred to receive help, with a 40% increase in exploitation cases being officially reported to government institutions.
“It’s so important these situations are now seen and understood as not right,” explains an information session leader. “There are many cases of sexual abuse and exploitation we’ve detected because, after the talks, people approached us.”
700+ youth received psychosocial support from a qualified mental health team.
“I liked talking to the psychologist because I was able to tell her all I went through, the tough situations I had to face and how frustrated I was. She helped me feel better and to know that I can be happy,” confides a girl receiving care from a local health facility.
500+ internally displaced girls re-enrolled in the education system.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this,” shares one adolescent girl.
600+ young women had entrepreneurial initiatives kick-started with financial support.
“I feel I have more freedom. I decide what to do with my money and am no longer dependent on my husband,” says one beneficiary. “We women have been changing. Now we go to work and make our decisions,” adds another.
40+ schools implemented gender-based violence related action plans, while 4,000+ boys and girls participated in peace and empowerment fairs.
“As a result, girls and women are now more respected in our school and cases of bullying have reduced,” says one student who’s seen, and is contributing to, a safer learning environment.
“We use acting to demand our rights and demonstrate that we, women, are also leaders for the good of all the community,” says the leader of a newly-formed drama club.
You’re empowering a new promising generation, including this group of participants!
4,300+ youth received civil registration and identification cards.
“In the past, you had to say 'I am the wife of Mr. X', meaning he owned you,” shares one woman eager to assert her individual rights. “But now men acknowledge the role of women in society.”
Because of you, boys and men – who play a key role in the fight for equal rights – took part in workshops to take on sexism.
Now they’re standing up to societal pressures by rejecting stereotypes that limit the girls and women in their lives, along with their own potential.
“Although we’re different, we have the same rights and no difference justifies violence,” says one teen boy redefining rigid gender roles. “As men we have a great capacity to love and respect.”
“I now understand this is not the boys’ and girls’ responsibility, it’s all of ours: those who solicit children, those who exploit them, and especially those who look the other way.” – Manuel, project participant; longtime musician; newfound activist.
Though countries away, thoughtful Canadians like you chose not to turn away from a troubling problem. Instead, you opted to tackle it by continuing your commitment to girls everywhere through Because I am a Girl.
This generous choice has created major change for thousands of girls in need.
It’s reinforced their support systems, and opened up options for more promising paths. It’s shifted mindsets, moving thousands more individuals to act for what’s right, each and every day. And it’s transforming girls’ prospects and outlooks, as well as how they view themselves.
“Now I acknowledge having power inside me,” shares a young woman you helped uplift. “I think more about equality now and feel the need to work hard so other girls can find their own empowerment.”
A heartfelt THANK YOU – from all the girls, families and communities forever changed by you.
“All this was possible thanks to sponsors,” shares a grateful young participant. “It’s a very good project and makes me think I can strengthen myself as a person, thus help others in my community; it is one more step forward.”
Return to the Because I am a girl project
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada.