Gender Equality in Agua Blanca, Bolivia

A bumpy road with lots of llamas and alpacas along the way with breathtaking views. After a 12 hour drive from La Paz we arrived at a small village called Agua Blanca (named after the rivers and waterfalls over here) near the border of Peru. Together with Yolanda and a priest of the organization ISEAT we visited the local village people and lived with them for 3 days. Around 100 families live in this village, nestled between snow-capped mountains. 1300 ft above sea level without any mobile and internet connection. But is that important when you have your friends and families around you and views like these? I was here to talk to the men and women about gender equality.

Agua Blanca

The workshops
The leaders of the village get monthly workshops by ISEAT – an organization of theologians supported by ‘Mensen met een Missie’- . An important topic here is also gender equality and gender-based violence between men and women. Almost half of the women in this village are single, they don’t have faith in men or left their men. The leaders tell us that violence against women is thankfully getting less and that you already see the difference. Men help out in householding and take over some of the tasks from their wives.


The leaders of Agua Blanca


Even more happy together after the workshops

The Future of Women in Agua Blanca
Some of the women and men here, follow the workshops of ISEAT and Mensen Met een Missie. According to them you will find not as much violence in their village like in the bigger cities. There’s still some physical and psychological violence against women but you won’t see that 0ut in the open. Things are getting better.


An interview with the people of the village in their church

The people in Agua Blanca are sincerely and unbelievable friendly

 


Lama’s welcoming us upon arrival

Now it’s time to head back to La Paz where me and my reporters team will have a day to rest before saying goodbye and heading to the salt lakes of Bolivia!

Love,

Sarah

*All pictures are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk

A memorable day in Bolivia

For some women in the world the 8th of March is just another ordinary day, but for women in Bolivia it is ‘the day’ that they fight against violence. We marched on the streets in Sucre (Bolivia) with around 50 women who all have something in common; they are humiliated and scarred for life. I’ve asked myself the question, will this ever stop?!

Sucre – ‘la ciudad blanca’ or white city, is the capital of Bolivia which lies at an elevation of 2,810 meters. Many of the buildings in the center of this beautiful white-washed town date back to the 16th century.  It’s famous for it’s historic buildings, indigenous culture, nightlife, bars and restaurants. An old-world charm place that is unlike any other. It seems so peaceful, but a lot happens behind doors.

A memorable day in Bolivia we will never forget!

In the early morning we walked with our group of volunteers to the Levantate de Mujer office where around 50 women were ready to march the streets of Sucre. And we marched with them!

They were holding brown papers and shouted what rights they should and want to have: the right to study, the right to work, the right to choose who to marry…… To make an end to discrimination based on gender!




Interview with local radio and tv!

We gathered around at Playa Major with lots of other women and luckily also some men.
Aracely, 21 years old – Marilena, 17 years –  Ligia, 36 year – these are a few of the names and ages of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned. These names are visible on a ribbon of waving flags on the square. The leaders of Levantate de Mujer gave interviews to local radio and tv shows. The problem is clearly visible today and that’s definitely needed.


Ribbon of waving flags of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned

In the afternoon we spoke with some of the women who participate in projects of Levantate de Mujer. 

Patricia – “My husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me.”


Tears in her eyes

Her story got me. She closed her eyes and began her story:
” I haven a violent past, my husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and a lot more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me. I wasn’t good enough for him and my children. He tortured one of  my children and she died. I still didn’t know what to do, so I let him do his thing for many years. Eventually I got in contact with this organization via a neighbor. I left my husband and I’m still so happy that I did! My children an I spoke with a psychologist and we learned how to move forward. I want to be there for my children, so therefore I learned how to cook, sew etc. I got my confidence back and my children do much better!”

We cried with her and we were quiet for a few minutes….

There’s still a lot of violence against women, but with the help of the workshops of Mensen met Een Missie  there’s an opportunity for these women!
So if you haven’t donated yet, than please do
here!

You will find more info about Levantate de Mujer and Mensen Met een Missie here

All images are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk 


Love, 

Sarah