Our parents taught us that only men should be respected

Natividad Mamani Calle is a 32-year-old community leader from Santiago de Poque in Bolivia. She is supported by our partner, Centro de Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer Aymara (CDIMA), and is a single mother of a seven-year-old son called Yamil.

Natividad learning IT skills with her son at her side who accompanies her at all trainings

“Our parents taught us that only men should be respected. They told me that we should always behave well towards men and do our best, so they can look after us and value us as women.

"Because I grew up in this patriarchal mindset, when I finally opened my eyes I enthusiastically decided to learn about my rights and the rights of my sisters and neighbours in my community. I have already started, but I still have a lot to learn.”

Natividad separated from her husband four years ago and she currently lives with her son in a modest home in Santiago de Poque. Her husband was violent and unfaithtful, abusing her even during pregnancy. When she was seven months pregnant, he hit her in the stomach, causing development difficulties for their son and an eye condition affecting his sight. Natividad noticed it when Yamil was two, and decided to leave her husband so they would no longer suffer.

Celestina Escobar Aliana from the Italaque Committee of Rights and Justice set up by our partner CDIMA helped her through the separation process, assisting in finding family help for Yamil.

“Thanks to the help I received from the committee, I decided to become a part of it. I received training on laws and regulations in 2015, and I am now a volunteer helping to eradicate violence in her community.

“Before hearing about Womankind and CDIMA, I did not know about rights, particularly those of women. Thanks to the leadership skills I have gained, I am now also a part of the Bartolinas (a feminist group in Bolivia, named after Bartolina Sisa, an Aymaran leader), and I hold the position of a Central Agraria within my cantón. I try to find time to continue learning so I can make the most of it whilst my son is still young.”

Currently, Natividad is sharing her learnings with others in various communities, mainly around Law 348 (to guarantee women a live free from violence). She moves from place to place, spreading her knowledge among other women. She guides them as a part of the SLIM (Legal Integrated Municipal Service) and DNA (Defence of Children and Adolescents), and listens to and reports their cases if necessary.