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HIJAS DE LA PAZ - COLOMBIA

More than half a century of conflict have made more than 8 million people internally displaced in Colombia. Despite peace agreements, many people live in precarious conditions.

A lack of prospects and poverty push young people in particular into a spiral of violence, drugs and crime. The project Hijas de la Paz (Daughters of Peace) has enabled 40 young women from the provinces of Quindio and Valle del Cauca to permanently improve their living conditions.

In an intensive four-month program, run by the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace (GHFP), young women receive psychosocial support, personal development and vocational counselling in a training centre, and support in accessing the labour market. This is followed by a ten-month implementation phase in their home communities, where they are accompanied and supported by social workers.

The target group of young women addressed by the project is particularly in need of help and is not reached by normal government programmes. Statistics show that a lack of equal opportunities and career prospects, abuse within the family, an education system that does not meet the needs and interests of young women, drug trafficking and unemployment leading to prostitution lead to a spiral of violence, drugs and early pregnancy. The danger to young women has increased with the resumption of recruitment by guerrilla groups.

Ethnically marginalised, indigenous, and Afro-descendant populations are among the most vulnerable groups in Colombia, as they rarely participate in state social programmes because the Colombian state lacks an effective direct communication network with them.

The women who participate in the programme attend general courses on cooking, carpentry, gastronomy and organic farming. They take part in recreational activities such as yoga, tai chi, theatre and dance, as well as sports. There is also a course related to peace, with reflection the concept of what peace means as a human right, and also of strengthening the capacity to restore one's own rights. Crucially, the women are given tools for creating micro-enterprises, learning the steps needed to develop their business initiatives, such as planning, feasibility studies, production, costs, marketing and inventory management. They are also informed about the different programmes offered by the Colombian government to support entrepreneurs in their business initiatives and the necessary requirements to obtain these benefits and are shown how to make a good project presentations to aid them in this.

This year SDB contributed with medical supplies and childcare support costs to enable the participants to be able to continue their involvement in the programme.

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