Women with a mission in La Paz, Bolivia

Peace on earth, the freedom to make your own decisions, is what the leaders of Catolicas Por El Derecho A Decider in La Paz pray for.
Men make decisions for their women when they get married: How many children they get, when they can visit a friend, the approval for a medicine…. and a lot more. The leaders in La Paz are on a mission, they want to inform women about their rights and their possibilities in Bolivia.



Before speaking with the local leaders of Catolicas Por El Derecho A Decidir about their mission, we made an offering of seeds and water to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Together we prayed for women inside and outside La Paz, for a brighter future where men and women are equal! It was a special moment to experience.

offering

“I wanted to end my pregnancy, but my husband forbid me to do so”

We spoke with three incredible and strong leaders of the organization in La Paz:

Eugenia “I need my husband’s permission to leave the house”

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She’s 60 years old, makes handmade clothes and sells it to friends and family, she has 4 children and is married.
She found a very nice husband, but in the beginning he was super jealous and therefore she couldn’t leave the house. “He expected me to cook, clean, wash and that’s it. I spoke with other women in my village and some of them were studying and I wanted the same!” Eventually she was allowed to take some courses and after their children were old enough her husband changed his perception. Since then she can do whatever she wants as long as she tells him. She’s is super happy that she can inform and help other women and she wants to do this until her last day!

Encarnacion “Women who want to explore are not worthy.”



She’s 41 years old, bakes cookies and cakes and sells it on the local market, she has 5 children and is married. 
“My dad was an alcoholic and hit my mother on a daily base. My mother protected us, so we stayed unharmed. One thing I know for sure is that I didn’t want to end up with a guy like my father. I found a super sweet man, but his family was horrible. They told him many times that women who wanted to explore are not worthy. So I was not allowed to do anything (work, study.. etc.) and I had to stay home. It got better when other women in our village talked about projects where they learned to sew and cook. This is how I learned to cook even better and eventually I got in contact with Catolicas por el derecho a decider where I now give workshops to my own village people. My husband supports me completely and his family has to deal with it.

Alejandra “I wanted to end my pregnancy, but my husband forbid me to do so”

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She’s 24 years old, studies Communication on the University in La Paz, she has one little daughter of 4 years old and she’s divorced.
Alejandra got accidentally pregnant when she was 20 years old. She wanted to end her pregnancy, because she was still studying, they didn’t had money and her relationship wasn’t that great, but her husband forbid her to do so. He humiliated her when he found out that she wanted to kill their baby. She didn’t have another option, so decided to keep it. Within a few weeks her husband left her and their child for another woman. Luckily her parents helped her out and so she continued her study. She is in her last year, she gives workshops and leisure’s about the possibilities for women on high schools. She talks with young girls in the hope that they have the opportunity to make their own decisions. She’s super optimistic about her future.

Workshops at High school 
After lunch we traveled together with some of the leaders to a Highschool where Catolicas por el derecho a decider gives workshops to young children about gender equality and more. A big problem with young female women is that they get pregnant on a young age and they have no idea what their options are. This day they introduced something new, a card game with questions: What would you do when you got pregnant? Is it OK to enjoy seks? Where to go to when you are pregnant? They try to inform children in a fun way.


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Donate!

One of our reporters Renske appointed it perfectly in her article: “You read a lot about Servië, Iran and Eretria, but we only read about Bolivia in travel magazines. 
The prays and life lessons of these leaders plus the workshops of Mensen met een missie are needed as you can tell. Please donate of you haven’t done yet here!!!

Love,

Sarah

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