Facing Destruction, Rebuilding Life: Gender and the Internally Displaced in Colombia


Meertens, Donny, and Richard Stoller. 2001. "Facing Destruction, Rebuilding Life: Gender and the Internally Displaced in Colombia." Latin American Perspectives 28 (1): 132-148.

Authors: Donny Meertens, Richard Stoller


Political violence and its social consequences have affected women and men differently. "Gender violence" as a dimension of political violence has changed in content and intensity along with the growing instrumentalism of military actions. Among the victims of displacement, traditional peasant women, particularly the widows of violence, have suffered a greater loss of social identity than have men. However, it is they who must assume responsibility for the physical survival of their families and face the construction of a new social identity in an unknown and hostile urban setting. Displaced men, for their part, with their greater geographic mobility and greater social and political experience, have faced the rupture of their rural social fabric with greater force, but in the phase of reconstruction of family life the opportunities for men and women seem to become inverted: the impact of displacement for men is concentrated in their unemployment, a situation that takes away their role of economic provider. In contrast, women seem better equipped to continue their domestic routines--in the service of others, as well as in their own households. Despite the traumas, the poverty, the lack of space to mourn, even widows have encountered new opportunities for personal development. These possibilities have come with greater force for those peasant women whose previous organizational and leadership experiences help them overcome the tragedies of displacement and undertake personal and collective reconstruction in their new urban lives.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2001

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