International Youth Day – Part 2, Sandra’s story

Image 2 - Sandra's story

As a part of International Youth Day we are sharing the stories of some of the youth leaders we’re proud to be working with. This year’s theme is ’Youth Building Peace’. Involving young people in transforming their communities into safer, fairer, more peaceful places is central to the work of all of our partners. As Colombia emerges from decades of conflict, and embarks on the process of  rebuilding itself as a peaceful country, young people have an important role to play in ensuring this peace is sustainable.

This trilogy of stories demonstrates how our partner, Si Mujer, is helping young people to contribute to building peace in Colombia. We support Si Mujer to train young people to know and demand the protection of their sexual and reproductive rights and to fight for gender equality. The young women featured here explain how they are now using what they have learnt about their rights to educate others, and to take action to help reduce sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination. The recent peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas received international recognition for having an unprecedented focus on protecting the rights of women and girls and LGBTI* Colombians. Si Mujer’s youth leaders are making important contributions to help make these promises a reality.

(*lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex)

“On the 11th of June 2016 I joined Si Mujer’s project and since then my life has completely changed for the better. Before then I didn’t know much about sexual and reproductive rights and I had no idea about the sacrifices other people had made in the past so we could enjoy these rights.

By joining Si Mujer, I have found what I have always been looking for. At first I wasn’t sure to what kind of role I would play in the organisation, but I am so happy now and pleased that I made the decision to participate in the training sessions. In every session I learn more about my sexual and reproductive rights abortion rights, how to access support when someone has been raped or contracted a sexually transmitted disease and much more.

Without a doubt, my life has made a complete U-turn. Si Mujer has supported me in so many ways and has encouraged me to grow as a person. Before I joined the project I was one of those people who used to speak for the sake of it, I hadn’t had any sex education and I didn’t really know what I was talking about when it came to sexual and reproductive rights. I wasn’t familiar with the current laws in Colombia surrounding abortion and because of this lack of knowledge I found it difficult to have an informed point of view on these issues, as well as many more concerning sexual and reproductive rights.

Si Mujer has changed all this for me and I now know the correct terminology when talking about these issues. My training has also taught me about women’s rights and that we have the right to decide on what happens to our own bodies. The project has helped me to gain confidence and improve my public speaking skills, and now I have a strong theoretical understanding of topics surrounding sexuality. With all this knowledge, I have changed so much for the better.

All the things I have learnt have had a positive influence on my everyday life and now I understand how to make the best decisions for me and my body. Now I can help others, share what I have learnt, and guide them as best I can so that they can make informed decisions about their bodies. All of the training I receive from Si Mujer is also helping me get experience for my future career, so that I can begin that chapter of my life as prepared as possible.

I am so grateful to Si Mujer for helping me in many ways – to grow as a person, to become a better person and to develop and improve my knowledge on these issues, and above all be happy.”

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