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Colombia: It’s time to create a true democracy with equal gender participation

By Rocio Arango Giraldo


Colombia: All meetings about social policy are always full of women in attendance. In each one of the neighborhoods from Latin America, the women are the leaders of the community organizations.
But this potential for building networks and links for development has been lost because the “handbags and skirts” members of the population haven’t taken control of the Congressional palaces or Majority Houses.
Affirming roles for female political participation is a signature of progress for women and governments in every place of the world. When I started to participate in politics as a member of the Conservative Party, I had to ask, “Why hasn’t Colombia had a woman President?
To help this situation, organizations like FESCOL, NDI, GTZ and other foundations that work for political participation are promoting a campaign dedicated to increasing the feminine presence in Congress and local administrations. The campaign is called “More Women, More Politics.”
The campaign’s objective is to generate conditions for the inclusion of women. So, meetings are created with women from every Colombian political party. In my party, the women of every region of the country that comprise the Women’s Organization of the Conservative Woman, meet among ourselves to think about the gender focus of the Party, the time between now and the next elections and to design a work plan that guarantees the inclusion of women in the party dynamic.

One of the ways to promote feminine political participation is through “Laws of Cuots,” an affirmative action based on the principle of “treating the inequality of vulnerable people.”
The Law of Couts establishes that a certain percentage of women should be present in administrations. In Colombia, the Cuot is 30% of the positions in public administrations and political organizations are filled by women but only 12% of the Congress are women. The situation is similar in other Latin countries.
So, how can a democracy be built in Latin America if women are 52% of the population but don’t have a real representative presence in politics? I think that the statistics show that women don’t vote or support other women.
I think that we are very preoccupied with demonstrating to society that we can run for political office but we have to remember that we also have to increase our gender participation.
We must ask ourselves, “When we think of gender, is it only a concept that means to be different from men?” Gender refers to the social construction around the role of women and men in society and it is necessary when thinking about the policies to focus on gender.
However, all the talk of gender doesn’t involve negating the meaning of males. The Feminine Majority incorporates the lessons of tolerance of other people so that we may work together as women to win social and political positions.
Learn more about Rocío:
Rocío Arango Giraldo is 22-years-old and lives in Medellín Colombia. She studied Political Science at the National University of Colombia, Public Management in the Technology Institute of Monterrey in México and Policy Networks at National University of Litoral (Argentina).
She is a member of the Colombian Conservative Party, and has written for such prestigious Colombian publications as El Colombiano, El Tiempo and others. But something she is most proud of is her advocacy for people with disabilities: “I fight for the rights of disabled persons like me.”
Rocío works in the Technology Science Park of Antioquia.

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