About Me

Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia
This blog will document some of my experiences of living and working in Valledupar, Colombia. I'm here working as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) for the UNDP through the United Nations Association of Canada's UN Professional Placement Programme. The posts for this blog will share my experiences of work, travel and culture in the Cesar region of Colombia's Caribbean coast and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Let the workshops begin!

Yesterday, September 25th, UNDP Cesar and I held the first of a series of 8 workshops for a new gender project with the aim of enhancing women's political participation in the region.  It is a series of weekly courses/workshops I've been working on which explore the histories of women-led social and political movements, "Participacion politica y movimientos socales de las mujeres: conocimientos de las historias locales y globales". The course will be examining women's political and social movements from a variety of local and global contexts: from the Indigenous women involved in the zapatista movement in Chiapas Mexico, to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, to women's resistance in the armed conflict in Guatemala. We'll be looking at women's reproductive rights in China, my study experiences and research on sexual violence in India, women's involvement in recent protests in Turkey and Egypt, etc.  My aim is for the workshops to act as a space for sharing knowledge  on national and international women's rights, as well as personal experiences of Colombia's armed conflict, which are inherently linked to the political issues we'll be discussing.  Another aim of the workshops is to address the ways in which women have come together and fought to obtain their rights and make lasting change in their communities. 

Yesterday was the introductory course and was a huge HUGE success.  I was hoping to have at least 20 women attend, but when I arrived there were over 50 women as well as men who showed up! It was an inspiring afternoon so say the least, and very motivating.  To see and listen to so many men, women and children who were all eager to learn more about the project and contribute to the learning space.

This shot was taken at the beginning of the workshop when I was explaining how the 8 week course will be structured.  I've planned for an interactive and participatory learning space, with lots of group activities and presentations, video and documentary clips, articles and newspaper clips, open classroom discussion, etc. The photos below show some of my presentation on the different themes that will be studied/explored each week and the ways in which we'll be looking at similarities and differences amongst women's organizing and activism around the world.

 Hard at work! One of the group activities we held was on sharing your personal defenition of some concepts that will be used throughout the course. These included: feminism, gender, politics, equality, "machismo", and human rights.  I love this shot because each group member was to eager to write down their understanding of gender.  Loved to see people so engaged and excited about discussing these concepts!

Group work and presentations in action!  This is a shot which captures some of the groups hard at work taking notes and reading over a hand out on national and international laws in place for women.  At the end of the workshop a number of women stayed on to write down questions for next weeks discussion on the suffragist movement in Colombia and the right to vote.  I can't write enough how privileged I feel to get to facilitate these workshops with such motivated and engaged participates.  After yesterday my work here with UNDP is certainly feeling like a dream job. :)


  1. Excited to see if along the way at the workshops there will be interesting questions that comes up, that would be interesting to discuss here on your blog. Let us know :)

  2. How exciting. What a wonderful concept to inform and teach about other women's movements in other parts of the globe, so perhaps there is not such a feeling of isolation throughout their own struggles. The women's movements of Chiapas must feel especially close to home, since the machismo of Latin America is something both women's groups are familiar with.
    So thrilled to hear how much you are enjoying it all Kath! BIG congrats to you!!!!