Thursday and Friday we participated in a local festival organized by women, who all work with different topics that have to do with women. The festival had an interesting program with many different workshops. It was a great way to connect with local women and get to know some of the topics that really concern them in the Mexican context. Some things very similar to what we see in Colombia, other things quite different.
One of the workshops that we participated in was about using sanitary towels made from cloth, we even got to make our own.
On Friday we ended the day with a closing ceremony, since a lot of us could not join Saturday. It was a nice way to talk about what we had been discussing, learning and planning to keep working on together. We met a lot of amazing women and we truly admire the work that they all do!
It was around Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) so there was an altar to remember our loved once during the whole festival, a very beautiful tradition.
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Would you like inspiration for your Spanish students? Salka will be in Denmark in December/January and will be doing presentation on the work we do here. Click below to read more. Read more
Want to know more about us? Watch the video that Retaque Film made about us. Watch video
3 days, 14 workshops and a ton of new knowledge and inspiration
It has been a great weekend in Querétaro at the Sexuality and Gender Conference organized by AMSSAC. Thanks to the 27 funders who supported our crowdfunding campaign, both Nori and Salka had the opportunity to participate in the conference.
Friday – inclusive language
After doing the inscription, we participated in the workshop “inclusive language”. For those of you who do not speak Spanish, it is important to understand why this is and issue and an important topic. Spanish is a very gendered language. All nouns are gendered and plural is said in masculine. An example: 20 women and one guy are gathered. To refer to “us” you would always talk about the group in masculine, because there is 1 guy present. The women are included in the masculine “us”. This has started a linguistic movement and tendency to start naming women in the language. This is also a reflection of culture, and by naming women we also recognise them in the cultural context and it is a way of fighting the strong machismo and violence against women in Latinamerica.
The idea with the workshop was to pronounce this issue and why it is important to do something about it. We had some good discussions and were taught some interesting tools to try and move towards a more inclusive language.
The day ended with a toast in red wine to mark that the conference was officially initiated.
Saturday – from 9 am to 9 pm
Saturday was the main day at the conference with many interesting topics. We split up twice to cover as many workshops as possible. We participated in the following:
To which point does PrEP work?
Sexual education project in Guerrero, Mexico – case study
Sexuality and sexual rights for people suffering from arrested development
Sexual domination and sumision
SEXposium: Sexual education for psycology students – case study
Equality and the difficaulties in implementing it
Empowering is transforming
Do femist men exist?
The history of gender in the Western World
The final workshop of the day “The history of gender in the Western World” was our absolute favorite. We were tired and mentally exhausted from a long day wth a lot of new and interesting information, but this was an amazing experience that we wish you could have all experienced.
Juan Carlos Hernández Meixueiro did a great job explaining the different social constalations from before the ancient time and until today and with a great sense of humor. How gender roles have changed, from women having an important role, especially because of reproduction before the historic time to what we know today. Through language examples and hitoric information he managed to show that patriarchy and the way our world works today has not always been like this, and he strongly believes that this is not static structure either. We are moving in the right direction, but we have to be part of the dynamic, otherwise we can easily go backwards.
Sunday – Gender focus for education
Sunday we started at 9 am with a workshop to place some technical terms within gender equility and placing it into a Mexican context. Later on we participted in a workshop about gender in education. The importance of not using gender stereotypes while educating, especially when it comes to sexual education. It was interesting especially because we got some ideas on how to implement it in our workshops in Colombia.
Sunday ended with a small ceremony to hand out participation certificates.
Monday afternoon, we spent a couple of hours comparing notes from the different workshops that we participated in. We talked about every single workshop and topic to refresh, and also to learn about the topics that we split between the two of us. It was very productive and we both felt that this was a good way for us to close the topics from the conference.
It has been a great experience participating in this conference. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to participate in future events too.
Learn more about the work we do in Colombia. Read more
Support our work with sexual education at the local school in Colombia. Read more
The weekend was spent working with Nori, preparing ourselves for the second round of workshops, finishing the video about our work (which will be out soon) and working on organising within the foundation.
Conference in Mexico
We are planning to go to the AMSSAC Sexuality and Gender conference at University of Querétaro. There are many relevant workshops and topics we want to participate in. And during the weekend in Popayán we also found out that the weekend after AMSSAC there will be another conference with Mujeres Rizomáticas. We might even have the opportunity to present our work here in Colombia at this second reunion. We are looking very much forward to going and if you want to help us raise the funds you can support us through our crowdfunding page.
Stay tuned, we have a lot of interesting news coming up!
Nori had an important experience on the countryside in two small rural villages 2 weeks ago. It was a great opportunity for her, the students and for the foundation to work in a rural area. She went to a remote area in the middle of the mountains, which means they are statistically more exposed to teen pregnancies and sexual education is generally weaker in those areas.
Nori tells about her experience
This week I had the opportunity to work in two rural areas in the state of Cauca, which is the state where Popayán is capital. The first days I worked in Rosas one hour from Popayán in two small villages. The last day I worked in La Sierra which is even further away, 2 hours from Popayán.
We got the chance to go to these areas thanks to the geologist Lina Marcela Paz, my former co student from Universidad del Cauca. She helped us contact the schools in the two rural villages and made it possible for us to work there.
The schools are located away from the village in the mountains. The students have to travel up to one hour to reach the schools. This means that it also makes it difficult for other organizations to reach this kind of schools. The sexual and reproductive health educations that the students receive in these areas is given by their teachers who generally are not qualified to teach this subject.
During the workshops the students were very serious and reserved, but they were very collaborative and active in the group excercise. Several students came to ask me more private questions one on one.
To have the opportunity to leave the city and travel for hours through the mountains was very gratifying. But the most amazing thing was to see how grateful and helpful both students and teachers were. I really understand how important the foundation’s work is important and the necessity to bring the project to more areas ourside of the city.
Get to know our project and why we work with sexual and reproductive health education in Colombia.
For some time we have talked about having a creative weekend to get some things done. We have all been very busy with the workshops and a million other things have been going on, but finally we had some time to have our creative weekend.
First of all we wanted to stamp t-shirts with our logo. This was a long, but interesting process to participate in. Nori’s boyfriend, Juan Carlos, knows how to stamp t-shirts so he helped us out. First step was to make the stamp template:
After exposing the frame in light for 4 minutes and cleaning the frame we had to wait to make sure the frame was dry, but this is how it looked:
Next day we could start stamping the t-shirts. After a couple of tries on old t-shirts Nori had the honor of stamping the first real one:
We also managed to make a video with help from Iván who is studying History at Universidad del Cauca. He is great with audiovisuals and also uses it in his studies. He was a great help for us. The exact theme of the video will remain a secret for a little bit longer, but we can reveal that it includes our favorite book “The Wonder Down Under”. Here you can see some pictures from our creative process:
Soon you will be able to see the video both on our Facebook page and here on the site, stay tuned.
Meanwhile you can:
Read about us and our work
We are present working in Cali, Popayán and the areas around the two cities working sexual education.
Some time back I was contacted by Dorthea, a Danish woman who is starting a project here in Colombia called Hogar de Esperanza. She told me that she is currently working together with Foundation Alas Cinco in the tough neighbourhood Cazucá in Soacha (South of Bogotá). She was wondering if I also did workshops in that area of the country, because they were very interested in having me do a workhop. I had to go to Bogotá anyways, so I decided it was a great opportunity to do some work and also get to know the two other projects. I have always been told that networking is a great tool, so this was a good opportunity.
Cazucá is a hardcore area, since it is an area with a lot of refugees from the long internal conflict. It is a very different population than what I am used to in Cali, since many were originally from the countryside and from a more introvert and conservative culture. It was a new and exciting challange.
Preparing the workshop
To get to know the place, the students, the teachers etc. I went to visit Alas Cinco a day before the workshop and I got to meet the students. We made an excercise so that they could write down questions or themes that they would like to talk about in the workshop. They were very shy, and it took them some time to start writing, but in the end they handed me some great questions to work with for the next day.
Workshop at Alas Cinco
The students were very shy in the beginning of the workshop, but very attentive. It was obvious that they were interested in the subject. With humour and very explicitly talking about the different themes they slowly opened up. They even asked some questions in the end. We managed to work anatomy, changes when being a teenager, birth control, myths and STIs. Our two hours passed super fast, and before we could see to it we were done for the day. It was an amazing experience to work with these students, and I really hope we can do something similar again some time.
They asked me what oral sex is, and this is my brief explanation:
They were very thankful and I got many hugs and amazing smiles. This is why I love this work!
My experience working at the school Gabriela Mistral, the school where I started my work with Mi Cuerpo/Min Krop
Before I started doing the workshops at the school Gabriela Mistral, I had a couple of meetings with the coordinator Liliana to organize the schedule and I met some of the teachers. It is great to work with Liliana, she is very open minded and helpful. She had an event with the girls from the school and she took some time to present me and the project to them. Liliana asked the girls to get as much as posible out of the workshops, ask many questions and so on. It is not every day that projects like this come to the school, she said. After the meeting several students came to say hello and they seemed interested. This definetively helped me feel welcome and relaxed at the school.
I started the workshops on a Monday with a group of 8th graders, and to be honest I thought I was going to be very nervous. It was the first workshop that I was going to do all by myself without Salka by my side. Luckily it was the complete opposite. I felt very secure and excited to begin the process. That day I left the school very motivated and wanting to keep working.
I worked 4 days, just with the groups in the afternoon, 2 workshops per day. It was very giving, especially since all the groups were very different. Some groups very naughty and with many questions, some groups very noisy, but even so learned a lot. The oldest from 11th grade were very mature and active in the workshops. I learned a lot from all the groups, I was left with some doubts as well which I looked up afterwards when I came home.
I have learned a lot from these first classes, and the first workshops have left me very motivated, and wanting to keep on working.
This weekend Salka is visiting me in Popayán and we keep working to make the project even better and continue to develop new ideas.
1st national seminar about gender, sexual harassment and the right to diversity
International Women’s Day, also known as 8M, was marked all over the world. Here in Colombia we participated in several activities to mark this day and the fight for women’s rights in the world.
Salka participated in the seminar at Universidad del Valle all week. It was a week full of many interesting topics relevant to our work with sexual education in the schools. Very interesting to hear how different areas of gender studies support each other to keep fighting for women’s rights.
It was a great way to prepare for the 8M and the demonstration in Cali. If you are interested in reading more about the seminar, you can have at look at the seminar’s homepage.
8M in Cali
The day started out at the seminar, where both Salka and Camila participated in the events. Thursday’s programme included an amazing presentation about female characters in Brasilian litterature by a Brasilien feminist guest professor.
In the afternoon Salka met with the rest of the participants in the demonstration at one of the main stations in Cali. It was the biggest demonstration on 8th of March that has ever taken place in Cali. A lot of the girls who also participated in the Ella meeting in December were there. The march moved up towards one of Cali’s marginalized neighbourhoods, Siloé, where the women from that area joined the march. It was very beautiful, and even though it was not at all as big as the demonstrations in Spain or Argentina, it was amazing to see the support and the awareness about all the fights that are to continue in Colombia and the world.
It is especially important to mark the women’s day in a country where child abuse, rape, teen pregnancies etc. are very common. 8M is a day to mark these fights and remind ourselves that we have to keep fighting, but the work is to be done all year around.
8M in Popayán
The typical way of “celebrating” 8th of March in Colombia is by men giving baloons, chocolate, flowers and taking the women out to eat. Fortunately, this year it was different in Popayán. The feminist network caracolas organized several events to mark the international women’s strike #8M. Of course, Nori, our new teacher in Popayán, participated in the events during the day.
The activities started at 10 am in the university with and event called “8 women, 8 perspectives, 8 voices”. The event presented a wide spectre of what women are: afro, indiginous, academics, trans, gay, working etc. The idea was to discuss and reflect on the difference in salary, terriory problems, working rights, race resistance, women in social science, resistance in the gay and trans community, but also spirituality and balance.
The auditorium was full during the whole event, a lot of women was wearing purple (which has been an international initiative to mark 8M) and the mayority of the participants were women.
At 2 pm an event started in the central park of Popayán. It was a more artistic and cultural event, but still focusing on the women. There was a colective dance, music, a monologue and speeches from local female community leaders.
The activities in the park brought a bigger crowd, and people walking by the park was interested after seeing all the people gathered there. It was especially interesting the part about “Statements from femicide survivors and their families, UN Women”.
An eventful week
As you can see it has been an eventful week, and we are all happy to have been in the different 8M events. We now go back to our work at the local schools in Cali and Popayán. Camila and Salka will be at 20 de Julio and Nori will finish up the last couple of groups at the school Gabriela Mistral.
Friday 5th of January the local Danish newspaper, Helsingør Dagblad, brought a follow-up article about Salka and her work with Mi Cuerpo/Min Krop. In September they brought the first article. This time around, the journalist had time to visit and she and Salka talked more about the work the foundation is doing in Colombia.
Would you like to support us and make sure we can keep up our work with the teenagers in the public schools? Right now you can sign up and pay only 250 kr. which will cover your membership until 1st of March 2019. You can also sign up to make a smaller montly donation if that is better for you. You can support our work right here.
Ella was first started in Brasil in 2014 as an iniciative to discuss all sorts of topics that has to do with women and feminism in Latin America. In 2015 it was continued in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where more people joined. This year 12-15 of December in Cali, Colombia, we had the 3rd version of Ella with participants from 26 countries. A group of dedicated women and a couple of guys had organized an amazing program with many different meetings and topics. The idea behind the encounter is to connect women from all over Latin America, network, learn and get inspired. Together we are stronger than by ourselves.
HIV violence, abortion, trans issues and much more
In the program there were so many interesting discussions to participate in. I decided to participate in the ones most relevant to the work here in Cali. The first discussion I participated in was about legal abortion. In the different Latin American countries there are different laws regarding abortion. Some more strict than others. It was definately important an inspiring to hear how some of the girls are fighting for the right to decide about their bodies. One specific thing we could all agree on was that abortion will keep happening if it is legal or not. Therefore, the mission is to make it as secure and informed as possible while still fighting for the right to legal and secure abortions in the region.
Another very giving discussion was regarding the invisble violence that HIV positive women experience every single day in the region. It is everything from small everyday issues to even bigger violent issues. It was inspiring to hear the HIV positive young women tell their stories and discuss what could be done about the issue.
Femisnism was a theme throughout the encounter making it all come together. Probably one of the discussions that made the most impression on me was about trans women in Latin America. A couple of strong and very inspiring trans women told us about their world, exclusion, dilemmas etc. I think we as a society can learn a lot from many of them. Feminism has been sort of exclusively for white women, but that is ridiculous. If we cannot include everybody, no matter what sexual orientation, gender, colour etc. we will not be able to change anything. This is something these inspirational trans women really managed to emphasize.
Networking and inspiration
It has been some intense days with many very interesting and giving discussions with women from all over the region. I got to meet and connect with women who are working with similar issues in their respective countries. I am sure that some of these connections will not only be valueable during Ella 2017. We will try and keep in touch and inspire each other and work together as much as possible.