On Nov. 23, approximately 5,500 Colombian and Ecuadoran women marched for demilitarization, to end violence against women, to construct peace with dignity and social justice and for a negotiated solution to the conflict. Their celebration was to mark Nov. 25, the International Day to End Violence Against Women. This was the seventh year that women from all over Colombia mobilized “to make visible” an area of conflict in the country and specifically, how that conflict impacts women. Women marched from Tulcan, Ecuador and Ipiales, Colombia: they met at the international bridge of Rumichaca, the border between the two countries.
The march called on all women to join: housewives, campesinas, afro-descendants, indigenous, trade unionists, students, displaced, poor and intellectual women. Their slogans for the march were, among others: “Militarism=Violence,” “Militarism=Displacement” and “Militarism=Poverty and Hunger.” They marched with painted faces, a colorful quilt, Colombian and Ecuadorian flags, and many signs to end the armed conflict.
Colombia has the third largest population of displaced people in the world, and the border between Colombia and Ecuador is increasingly a site of this reality: 250,000 Colombians have spilled across the border of Colombia into Ecuador, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Colombian government. Thousands of people are fleeing the intensification of the armed conflict with the presence of multiple armed groups, the fumigations and the militarization of the border. According to one of Ruta Pacifica‘s statements about the mobilization, Nariño (a southern department of Colombia which borders with Ecuador) is “one of the departments with the highest level of militarization of civilian life, which has negative consequences for the lives and bodies of women through prostitution, unemployment, poverty and sexual and domestic violence.”
Liza Smith for the FOR Colombia Program, November 2007