To commemorate International Women's Day on March 8th, the PSG asked UK-based NGO WOMANKIND to contribute an article to this edition of the Peru Update to bring our members up to date on its work in Peru. Besides its work in Peru, the organisation also works closely with 37 partner community groups in 15 developing countries.
The PSG has a long-standing relationship with WOMANKIND and representatives from two of their Peruvian partner organisations, Demus and Aurora Vivar, have led workshops at our Annual Conferences in 2006 and 2009.
When women get a chance to stop and think they can change their own lives - and transform their communities. Reineira Arguello, Programme Manager at WOMANKIND, describes how the organisation works with local partners in Peru to help women do just this.
WOMANKIND works in Peru to empower women. Through a strong relationship with key partners, WOMANKIND has been able to help Peruvian women and girls secure their rights in a country in which women suffer specific human rights violations.
WOMAKIND is currently supporting DEMUS to implement a four-year, DFID-funded programme that tackles violence against women by monitoring and strengthening specific government policies and practices. This comes at a time when the commitment of Peru's government to address violence against women appears to be floundering.
For example, they are failing to deal with the legacy of the sexual violence meted out to women during Peru's internal armed conflict between 1980 and 2000. Furthermore, the government has gone ahead with closing the Reparation Council for the Victims of Violence. Peru's government is making clear its contempt for women's rights.
Practical Support for Women Because the physical and psychological impact of this violence is so great, in 2004 68.2% of Peruvian women aged 15-49 reported having experienced emotional violence, 42.3% reported physical violence, and 9.8% reported sexual violence by their partner (ECLAC, 2004).2 WOMANKIND is focusing on women's health. With support from the Big Lottery Fund, WOMANKIND and three local partners - FEPROMU, DEMUS and El POZO - are working to improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged women affected by different forms of violence.
WOMANKIND has also helped women become active in the political arena - as skilled policy- and decision-makers. At the 'Women's School' women from La Libertad, Pasco and Ica have become knowledgeable and developed the necessary skills to shape the policy agenda at local and regional government level so that women's needs are addressed and gender equality is promoted.
The 'Network of Women in Power Positions' in La Libertad, Ica and Pasco, and the Tantalla Warmikuna Network in Amazonas and Cajamarca are both successful examples of the support and solidarity offered by WOMANKIND and its local partners AURORA VIVAR and CALANDRIA to women politicians. As a result they have greater political influence and leverage - and are able to speak out for women's rights.
Jovita Reátegui Cumapa, a member of the Tantalla Warmikuna Network, describes how her life has been transformed: “Tantalla Warmikuna is succeeding, more than anything else, in making us aware of what our rights and obligations are - and in making us understand the importance of gender equality. 'We realise that there is a lot of work to be done in rural areas, where violence is very common, and where there is psychological abuse of women and children, sometimes even at school.
'The project has been very important to me; it has given me extra strength. We have always been marginalised by chauvinistic, male authorities. That is why we want to continue this work - so that women stop to think and change their mentality and become better leaders, both at home and in our communities, and in this way contribute to the development of our people.”