Working for women’s rights in Peru
Last week 3 local women’s organisations trained by Womankind’s partner in Peru, DEMUS, presented an official report to the regional government of the indigenous district of Huancavelica based on 4 months spent monitoring emergency services for women survivors of violence. The report found that there is a poor level of care provided by emergency health centres to victims of sexual and domestic violence, a lack of culturally sensitive approaches, gender and ethnic-based discrimination, and slow responses from the judicial system for victims. One of the women leaders said “The monitoring work we have been carrying out in the last few months will help the regional authorities to improve their services for women victims of violence, and it is very important for us because we are often mistreated just for speaking in our indigenous language Quechua”.
Holding local governments to account
Womankind supports women’s rights organisations like DEMUS in Peru to build the capacity of women to monitor policies and services on violence against women and to ensure that their demands and reports, just like the one described above, are used to call their local governments to account. See here the case of Luz, one of the women who work with DEMUS monitoring public services, talking about her experience:
Why we support women’s organisations in Peru
Peru is now classified as a middle income country (at position 63 out of 169 countries on the Human Development Index in 2010) and leads Latin America in terms of growth rates. However, this growth has not reduced the high levels of inequality in the country, with 35% of the population living below the poverty line in 2009. Also, in Peru economic inequality is associated with social exclusion and marginalization based on ethnicity, with rural and indigenous people (which constitute 45% of the population, mainly Quechuas) typically the poorest and most discriminated against. Within these section of the population, women remain the most vulnerable.
Currently the Constitution provides equality on paper for women and men, but the reality is very different. Women have difficulty accessing power and resources, levels of violence against women are high, and women face discrimination in their homes, the workplace and in politics. Sexual violence was used systematically as a weapon during Peru’s 20 year civil war, and reparations to women survivors have not translated into reality yet. Their situation is further exacerbated by law enforcement officers and judicial authorities who have no training or experience in dealing with women survivors of violence, and fail to protect them.
Still working to access their rights
Through the work we do with DEMUS and other partners in Peru, Womankind ensures that marginalised women are aware of their rights, have the skills and opportunities to claim them and have access to justice. It is becoming more and more difficult for Womankind to find funding for projects in Peru, as its recently acquired middle- income country status means that donors are giving less and less aid. However, Womankind believes that there is still a need for women’s rights organisations to be supported to address the high levels of violence against women and gender-based discrimination experienced in the country as although Peru has grown economically, this alone is not enough to achieve gender equality.