Uprooted Lives: Gender, Violence and Displacement in Colombia


Meertens, Donny, and Nora Segura-Escobar. 1996. “Uprooted Lives: Gender, Violence and Displacement in Colombia.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 17 (2): 165–78.

Authors: Donny Meertens, Nora Segura-Escobar


During the last decade, more than 600,000 people have been forced to leave rural areas and migrate to regional urban centres in Colombia as a result of political violence in which guerrilla and paramilitary groups and the armed forces are the principal actors. The number of displaced people is still increasing. Nearly 60 per cent of them are women, and at least 25 per cent of the displaced households are headed by women, most of whom are widows. Focusing on three regions of the country - the northern Caribbean Coast, the central Middle Magdalena region and the Eastern Plains - the effects of forced displacement on women and men are analysed in terms of intra-household relationships, survival strategies and gender identities. The paper evaluates the gains and losses for women and men in the process of displacement. It argues that displacement has the strongest impact on women during the stage of “destruction”, while men, confronted with unemployment and loss of identity, are most affected during the stage of “reconstruction”.

Keywords: rural-urban migration, political violence, displacement, female-headed households, gender identity, Colombia

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Households, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 1996

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