In Chocó, where various illegal armed groups fight in the middle of the population about territories and resources, social leaders who speak up for the rights of their communities often risk their lives because national support or protection is rare or impossible. Personal and collective protection strategies are almost the only as well as the most promising protection measures for social leaders in Chocó, yet they are hardly communicated and trained with the population.
To strengthen 150 social leaders of 30 organizations in Chocó with personal and collective strategies for their protection, we have launched the project “Protecting Lives to Save Lives”. During the project, the following measures are carried out:
- Training in personal protection strategies of life
recognition of risk factors, legal and judicial framework for the protection of social leaders in Colombia.
- Training in collective protection-strategies of life
with focus on:
- the creation of control agreements, protection mechanisms and security protocols (specific for each participating organization), the creation of a support network within and between the participating organizations
- a training in digital security and the proper use of social media
- Practical implementation
of the security protocols and support networks by all 30 organizations with constant counselling (e.g., about early risks alerts to activate the security protocol)
This project actively addresses women, i.e., especially invites organizations of women. Positions of power and leadership in the Chocó have been closely linked to structures of male domination, largely due to the history of slavery and armed conflict that the region has experienced. In this way, women have not only surfed the consequences of war and the constant violation of their rights but have also been silenced within it.
That is why this project also seeks to
- decrease women’s fear of participation within the transformation processes of their communities,
- involve them actively in the spaces and processes of training and participation that are carried out in their communities, so that this contributes to reducing the gaps of gender inequality in the communities and to increase the rate of participation of women in leadership activities,
- highlight their role and the importance of their participation within the social processes of their communities,
- make visible the organizations to which they belong and their struggles and thus provide them with the opportunity to generate networks of support and solidarity among themselves, which can extend not only to their political and social actions but also to other aspects of their lives.
The workshops take place in the city of Istmina as well as directly in the rural and river communities of the participants.
This project is co-funded by the German Foreign Office.