Forced Displacement in Colombia: Public Policy, Gender and Initiatives for Reconstruction

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Donny Meertens, Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective
South America

In Colombia, one of the most dramatic social consequences of the armed conflict among guerrilla, paramilitary groups and the army during the last two decades has been the forced internal migration of about two million people who flee, mostly in a scattered way, from the countryside to urban areas, be it towns, cities or the national capital Bogotá. In the context of ongoing conflict, increasingly complex dynamics of war, regionalisation of motives and actors,and rapidly changing territorial configurations, the search for experiences of social reconstruction is not an easy task. Nevertheless, even in the midst of conflict, the affected population display initiatives that express resilience to violence, constitute acts of resistance or enhance new life projects, in spite of a general tendency to withdraw from public life, out of fear.Women play an important role in these initiatives. Gender relations and gender roles tend to change in the context of conflict, as women and men experience in a different way the traumas of war, the violations of their rights and the opportunities for rebuilding the social texture. In the following paragraphs we will develop a gender-sensitive analysis of the processes of uprooting,displacement and reconstruction of life projects by Colombian women and men.

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Forced Displacement Colombia Public Policy Gender Reconstruction, Donny Meertens, June 2006