Through the Building Inclusive Peace and Security through Political Representation (BIPS-PR) project, funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), CEPPS/IRI partnered with women in the Pacific and Caribbean regions of Colombia to pursue meaningful political leadership by equipping them with the skills, support, and access to opportunities needed to lead competitive electoral campaigns. CEPPS/IRI focused upon these regions, where there are large Afro-Colombian and Indigenous populations as well as conflict-affected communities in which women face significant barriers to political participation and LGBTQI+ individuals face significant stigmatization.
In order to increase women’s political participation and foster an enabling environment for women and LGBTQI+ candidates in the Caribbean region, CEPPS/IRI supported Caribe Afirmativo to carry out a three-month advocacy campaign aimed at increasing access and decreasing barriers to political participation. Caribe Afirmativo, a Barranquilla, Colombia-based civil society organization, works to transform social and institutional practices around sexual and gender diversity through research, training, psychosocial support, advocacy, and coalition building. This advocacy campaign trained women, LGBTQI+ participants, and male allies to address harmful gender-based stereotypes, highlighted the importance of gender inclusion, and conducted an awareness-raising campaign on social media to spotlight women’s political leadership.
Caribe Afirmativo’s campaign included a significant social media component, which reached 17,245 viewers across seven digital platforms. To assess their broader impact, Caribe Afirmativo also conducted surveys of workshop participants, which found increased agreement among participants with the concept that men and women should have equal access to social, economic, and political resources and opportunities. At the same time, the survey demonstrated that participants also recognized the patriarchal nature of public perception towards women leaders and the corresponding limitations on women’s access to running for office, further emphasizing the urgency of equipping women, LGBTQI+ individuals, and male allies to engage in political processes and to support diverse leaders.
Follow Caribe Afirmativo’s work on Twitter @CaribeAfirmativ.