In Her Own Words

Maria Ximena Figueroa, Colombia

“In my blood and in my heart, I feel the defense of our rights. For me, it is a commitment and a voluntary job that I hold in my heart – one that I love and can share with other women. This is what we have done through the Women’s Network.”

Maria Ximena is the leader and co-founder of Red de Mujeres Chaparralunas por la Paz, meaning Chaparral Women’s Network for Peace. She is an indigenous member of Colombia’s Pijao people from the community of Matora de Maito.

A women’s network supported by the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund, Red de Mujeres Chaparralunas por la Paz aims to ensure women’s meaningful participation in political decision-making and their full enjoyment of rights as Colombian citizens.

“For many women, and for myself, when the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) were created, it was a period of fear. We wouldn’t walk near the Police stations, the Army premises, or the lottery booths, because they always activated firecrackers. When we hear the stories of women who had to cook for members of any armed group at midnight, it was because they were forced to, not because they wanted to.”

Maria Ximena mobilized members of her community to be included in the local peace process during her country’s peace negotiations.

“We began to familiarize ourselves with the subject, helped women acknowledge their own civil rights and understand the path that every woman must follow in order to have her rights respected. It is important that women make their own decisions, and that they join and represent other women using instruments of representation.

Women leaders, like Maria Ximena and the members of Red de Mujeres Chaparralunas por la Paz, are paving the way for sustainable peace and the safety of women and girls.

The message is that we, the women, can and have all the potential to represent both women and men in political institutions. We’re telling women to participate in this movement, taking action in order to share their knowledge and wisdom with others for generations to come.”

Learn more about the grassroots work of women like Maria Ximena and our partner Red de Mujeres Chaparralunas por la Paz in Colombia, and follow them on Twitter: @MujerChaparral and FaceBook: @reddemujereschaparralunasporlapaz

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