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Celebrating International Women’s Day at Miquelina

International Women's Day at Miquelina

Our partner, the Miquelina Foundation, celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2016 with their 270 employees. The Foundation has been a moving force for women’s rights in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, empowering at risk women to remove themselves from abusive and exploitative situations.

The event provided time to reflect on four fundamental aspects about this date: first, honouring the history of International Women’s Day; second, reflecting on gender roles and stereotypes in our culture; third, preventing violence against women; and fourth, generating self-respect.

Four separate “corners” were arranged, each with a specific activity:

  1. Commemoration and Celebration

Here a timeline with a photographic gallery challenged the women to locate some historical events that mark the struggle for women’s rights, so putting into context what the 8th March represents for women, in striving for equal opportunities.

  1. Roles and Stereotypes

In a simple game, women were divided into six subgroups and asked to analyse a series of proverbs or sayings which show discrimination against women, either by their attitudes, their appearance, their knowledge or their position relative to men.

This activity examined gender roles and stereotypes in culture, reflecting on how such attitudes can prescribe the lifestyles of both men and women.

  1. Prevention of violence

Three short videos were presented, showing three different types of violence against women: physical, psychological and sexual violence, followed by a discussion.

This corner focused on raising awareness of the different types of violence against women, emphasising that nothing justifies such violence, regardless of social status, work, style of dress or mindset. Although there is both explicit violence and subtler forms of violence, they all need to be recognized as such in order to remove their effect on women’s lives.

  1. Taking care of myself and others

To round off this experience, a space for introspection and self-awareness was provided. Using breathing exercises and movement, women were encouraged to recognise their own achievements, abilities and personal expectations, and to consider their personal goals within the collective responsibility in continuing to write a story of improving human rights.

Each of the four ‘corners’ was decorated with a banner detailing the commitment of the Miquelina Foundation and underlining the rights of women under the fair trade system.

At the end, feedback was shared over dessert – here are some of the women’s views:

“I liked it a lot! I always knew that Women’s Day is important, but I’d never really focused on the reasons for this day. Thank you.”

“The activities were very beautiful and made us feel valued. Thanks for being so wonderful to us, God bless you.”

“Everything was very nice. It is great that the company organises these activities. Thanks, Miquelina.”

“I found it very cool because it teaches us to value and accept ourselves as women and above all as human beings. Thank you so much for everything.”

“I learned that we can see life differently and realise we are valuable and important. It showed that in order to be independent, we must believe more in ourselves. I do not like the harsh reality of what happens to us when we are assaulted. You have to fight to change that, because if we can, we are strong.”

“I thought it was an excellent activity. I learned several things and saw that sometimes I permit things I shouldn’t. I learned respect for myself and others, and left relaxed. Thank you.”

“The activity was excellent as many of the women did not know why International Women’s Day is celebrated, which is for reasons of equality. Previously, women had neither a voice, nor a vote, but today it is different. Thanks for such good information.”

“I learned that we must be more united and that we need a better society for our children, their children, and beyond.”

“I learned to value every day, as a woman, a mother and a person.”

The participants at the Women's Day event at Miquelina

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