22 August 2019
Posteado en : Opinion
Sandra Zayas, prosecutor of Guatemala and EL PAcCTO collaborator talks about developments in the role of female gang members in Central America
Prevention: a priority
Prevention. This is the area we must focus on in Central American countries because, mathematically, three of the six countries in the region have had a problem with gangs for many years and the situation is emerging in the other three, meaning they will be able to achieve very different results if they work on social prevention and crime.
When you look at the active participation of female gang members, it has changed a lot: from women being the victims of coercion to actually joining these criminal groups. In some countries in the region, they have even become responsible for areas such as logistics and finance.
We must not forget to differentiate between gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, some very powerful such as Mara SalvaTrucha and Barrio 18, and mafia-related gangs in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, some emerging and others with very specific purposes.
Gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have more female gang members and several studies on this topic have found that Guatemala is the Central American country with the highest rate of gender inequality, classified as “high”, El Salvador and Honduras as “medium”, and Costa Rica and Panama as “low.” This means fewer job opportunities, less parity, a more serious social gender problem. This gender inequality in our countries coincides with the facts presented at the Workshop on Female Gang members held this spring in San Salvador and organised by EL PAcCTO, a project funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP and Expertise France, with support from IILA and the Camões Institute.
It is necessary to distinguish between female participation in gangs as perpetrators, accomplices or to cover up crimes by establishing different penalties for each case. We would also highlight that, in matters of drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering, female gang members take part in activities necessary to commit one or more crimes.
In addition, drug trafficking crimes have led to extortion and murder (“hitmen”) in many of our countries, where female gang members are heavily involved. In Guatemala, there have already been three cases of female gang members who have set off grenades on public transport buses. Therefore, the participation of female gang members in criminal organisations is a fact.
When it comes to the police, prosecutors and judges, there is no evidence that they distinguish between women and female gang members, with the exception of El Salvador and Costa Rica, where they have innovative internal protocols for treating female members of organised crime.
Female gang members in prisons
The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and the Non-custodial measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) recommend reducing imprisonment sentences for women through corrective measures without custody, taking into account maternity, the separation of mothers from minor children or even mothers who are being held with their children in prison centres. Once again, Costa Rica has managed to reduce the number of women prisoners, taking these criteria into account and using alternative measures to prison in all cases of women who are deprived of liberty. The other countries of the Isthmus only separate the women belonging to different gangs in different prisons in case of conflict between rival gangs. Then there is the matter of the non-existence of positive social reintegration for both women and men in most countries. It is more difficult to reintegrate female gang members into society, especially with an “aggravating factor” when gang women are protected witnesses or effective collaborators, betraying their “family”, their “gang”.
There is little money allocated to invest in this type of problems, total or little political will to create positive regulations, and shared indicators and statistics throughout the legal systems. Specialised means of investigation and above all, a desire for change are also required.
We know that we need intelligence offices, inter-institutional protocols, committed administrators of justice with sufficient tools to act effectively, inter-institutional and international cooperation, data registers and specific indicators for the problems to be solved, because all of this needs to be measurable.
I conclude therefore with the 5Ws: What do we need to do? Work on this problem before it spreads to other countries and becomes as serious as it already is in some regions. How? By working together with defined government policies, with intelligence, registers and measurements. Why? For a better future for our countries. Who? All the inhabitants who love their country. Where? Around the world and when? Right now.
21 March 2019
Today, 21 March, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To celebrate this date, we are having a chat with Lucía Molo, technician of the “Living without discrimination” project.
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. What do you think international days are for?
One of the objectives of the initiative promoted by the United Nations to mark international days in the calendar is to draw attention and raise public awareness to a problem. These are issues where there is still much work to be done, which is why they are the perfect excuse to remind society and governments that they need to act.
What is racial discrimination?
According to European Union regulations, direct racial discrimination exists whena person is treated less favourably based on their race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin than another person in a comparable situation. It also recognises that discrimination can exist when people are treated differently in similar situations, but also when they are treated identically in different situations. This latter form of discrimination is called “indirect” because it is not the treatment that differs, but its effects, which affect different people with different characteristics in different ways.
Every day there are discriminatory incidents due to racial or ethnic origin, affecting refugees and immigrants, the Roma community, as well as other vulnerable groups. If we stop, for example, to read job vacancies, we are certain to find one which clearly specifies a preference for candidates of Spanish origin, thus excluding the foreign population.
How engaged do you think the population is with this issue? More or less than before?
I believe that society, generally speaking, does not intentionally or voluntarily discriminate against people of another race or ethnicity. Factors such as ignorance, fear of differences, prejudice and misinformation lead to discrimination. But I also believe that these situations arise as a result of insufficient political involvement that should, in my view, focus more efforts on prevention, public awareness and information.
In fact, the United Nations has acknowledged the rise in nationalist populism, with extremist ideologies of racial supremacy and superiority, thus producing more racist movements. In the latest UN Special Rapporteur’s report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of August 2018, she explains the contemporary use of digital technology in the propagation of neo-Nazi intolerance and related forms of intolerance. It points to recent trends and statements that exalt Nazism and other practices that contribute to the promotion of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.
How can discrimination be prevented?
First, the right to non-discrimination must be supported by legal safeguards that help to prevent this type of situation. In addition, information, training and awareness actions in interculturality and tolerance ethics must be reinforced . This goes for both citizens and government employees.
On the other hand, it is important that there be public policies that ensure non-discrimination. Spain has launched different actions in this regard: the creation of a Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) in the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security, the creation of the figure of delegated prosecutors for hate crimes and discrimination within the General Council of the Judiciary, the implementation of a system to gather incidents related to hate crimes and discrimination in the Ministry of the Interior and the Assistance Service for Victims of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination of the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliament Relations and Equality .
Is FIIAPP working on this issue? How?
The FIIAPP works directly in the fight against racial discrimination through a delegated cooperation project in the Kingdom of Morocco called “Living together without discrimination: an approach based on human rights and the gender dimension” funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for Stability in Africa of the European Union. The FIIAPP and the AECID participate in its management . It also collaborates with Spanish and Moroccan institutions such as OBERAXE, the Delegate Ministry in charge of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Migration Issues and the National Human Rights Council of Morocco.
What is the purpose of this project?
The main objective of the project is to reinforce instruments and public policies aimed at preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in the Kingdom of Morocco. It seeks to strengthen the capacities of key institutional and non-state actors (civil society, media, private sector …) in the implementation of initiatives to prevent racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population, through accompaniment, exchange and transfer of knowledge.
Any reflection on the subject to make us all think?
One of the reflections that emerged repeatedly during the workshop organised by the EUROsociAL + programme on human mobility on 19 March was that everything looks different when we put ourselves in the shoes of the other person .
I like the idea raised by the NGO Movement against Intolerance that there is only one race: the human race. If people began to see each other as sisters and brothers, I am sure that it would not be long before we no longer had reason to mark this day.
20 December 2018
Helena Zefanias Lowe, gender consultant for the Local Development project in Angola, tells us about her role in this project. She also highlights the role that Angolan women currently play.
What is your role in the project?
One of the requirements of the project was to have strategies to ensure that women would also benefit from the Local Development project in Angola, therefore, they have created spaces so that the whole FAS team can receive information on gender and masculinity. My role has been to train these FAS teams on this.
How is this subject being transferred to the FAS staff?
The first thing we did was to make a needs diagnosis and, from there, we did some basic training which FIIAPP workers participated in; 85% of them have been able to participate in some way.
In addition, we looked at how to reinforce female leadership within the project. All the female staff of the FAS have participated in workshops on women’s leadership and some of them have been promoted.
We have also developed some tools, such as a gender strategy, for the entity. The strategy will allow the FAS to use the competence that has been developed and with it, the internal team of 12 gender trainers will be able to know which areas they work in. The proposal is to continue working within the FAS teams and in the municipal structures of Angola, since services are provided to them.
On the other hand, in Angola we are working with the Community Development Agents, ADECOS, so that they are clear on how to reach women. To be an ADECO you must be able to read and write but many women do not. The strategy gives some guidance on this.
What role do women play right now in Angolan society?
Angolan women play a very important role. Angola is a country that has been at war for 40 years and, when there is a conflict, women tend to assume a series of responsibilities when they are alone. This has meant that they have organised themselves quickly and have sought strategies to continue working, not only as mothers and wives, but also as economic agents.
The FAS is working, with the support of the FIIAPP, on productive inclusion. Through it, attempts have been made to finance initiatives for female entrepreneurs.
On the other hand, the political framework is also very important. Angola is better placed than Spain when it comes to women. In this African country there are around 36% women in the Government and in Parliament. The challenge is to ensure that the presence of these women is transferred to other areas in general, e.g. living conditions, health, education… etc.
What benefits can the project bring?
There are several benefits. The FAS works, in principle, with people who have difficulties reaching resources. For example, by putting health centres or schools closer to the community, there is a direct benefit as more children will be able to go to school and be healthy.
Also, there is a benefit from the point of view of the conditions of women, men, and the elderly. There are also benefits when it comes to improving the economy, as well as public works and productive inclusion projects designed to deliver financial products to people, mainly women.
The FAS has defined a positive discrimination strategy, which means putting women first in all the projects it does. In addition, we are working to ensure that women hold management positions within the institution itself.
What role is FIIAPP playing in this gender focus? Is it supervising any gender issues?
The FIIAPP is strengthening the capacity of the FAS to manage this project and ensure that the quality of the work being done meets the objectives that had been defined before. Regarding gender, I provide the resources and as part of the follow-up that the FIIAPP gives to the projects, there is someone responsible forguaranteeing that gender analysis is carried out.
What’s more, the fact that I was present at the FIIAPP headquarters shows the role that this institution wants to develop. In this sense, I believe that it has been a cooperation between both the FAS and the FIIAPP because everyone wins.
Do you consider that society is increasingly aware of the importance of gender equality?
Yes. I think so. There is an increasing amount of awareness and an increasing number of complaints. In Portuguese we have an expression that is “do not put a spoon into the relationship between a husband and wife” We put the spoon into the issue of gender. For me, the greater visibility of the issue of violence, including discrimination at the institutional level, is the result of greater awareness, which is why people are speaking out.
What are the most pressing challenges to make equality between men and women a reality?
The first challenge is for each institution to know what it is they are looking for. I really like an expression that English cooperation uses which is “you have to take care not to leave anyone behind”, and that is our main challenge.
I have worked on gender issues for 40 years. I have been in situations in which people believe that gender equality is for women to start doing what men do and that is not the case. What we want is a just society for all and this is the biggest challenge. At the beginning, the projects always worked with people at the project level and did not touch the home level because they are a private matter, and now we deal with private matters.
What are the objectives of the training you have given to FIIAPP on gender issues?
The training had three objectives. The first was to make a diagnosis of where we are in order to see what needs to be done; I think it is necessary for the institution to have a lot of courage in this regard. The second was to work on tools with the technicians and what we can do to start to introduce these issues in our work, and the third wasawareness, a fairly general workshop.
19 July 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
Civil society plays a key role in the inclusion of people with disabilities, especially women, in Sudan. The main challenge is that they become aware of their rights, also at institutional level
6% of all Sudanese citizens are disabled. Although there are specific policies and laws aimed at this group, they continue to be discriminated in their communities in relation to accessing services or their rights.
The main challenge they face is the limited awareness of these specific rights. Therefore, at present, civil society associations are actively working to make people with disabilities in Sudan aware of their rights and how to obtain them, while promoting policies and laws to boost them.
For example, the right to a better education or access to the labour market are two of the main challenges that they face. Universities and schools in Sudan are not well equipped for people with disabilities. Jobs are available, but there are accessibility issues in the work environment.
In Sudan, in addition to associations for each type of disability, the Organization of Women with Disabilities includes all women, regardless of the type of disability they have. This organization works as a network that promotes the exchange of experiences among women with disabilities, which allows them to understand the needs of their colleagues and work together to help and support each other. The organization’s main objective is the social inclusion of women with disabilities in their communities.
One of the success stories of this project was the case of a girl with visual impairment who stopped going to school and stayed at home for 14 years. The organization has now helped her to finish her school education. They sent her to a specialized institution for blind people, they paid her fees and she has now passed the exam to go to university.
Another woman asked for our help to go to university because the Faculty of Education refused entry because she had a hearing disability: how was she going to work as a school teacher if she could not hear the students? Faced with this situation, the organization went to the University to solve the problem and allow the woman to continue studying, which we hope will allow her to develop her professional career as a teacher in the future.
The fact is that access to employment for women with disabilities is still limited in Sudan. Hence, here at the organization we place a lot of importance on the work we are doing together with Bridging the Gap, a project funded by the European Union, coordinated by the FIIAPP and implemented in Sudan through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS, for its initials in Spanish). In particular, we work in the state of Gedaref to strengthen the capacities of women with disabilities from rural areas and thereby increase their chances of finding a job or creating business opportunities and cooperatives.
These training activities promote the awareness of teachers, families and people with disabilities about the right to education and the inclusion of women with disabilities in the labour market, which benefits society as a whole. They also work to create a better environment, better accessibility and equipment, and to correctly deal with people with different types of disabilities.
In general, the Sudanese community considers disability as a stigma, although views differ. While some people are accepting of disability, others hide their children from friends and family. They are afraid of having children with disabilities, especially girls, because they believe that they will not be able to protect themselves when they are walking down the street from sexual abuse, for example. Therefore, they keep them inside the house, which becomes a prison for them. Access to education and, subsequently, to the world of work, therefore becomes a liberating experience for them.
Bridging the Gap is a good project because it works with both Government authorities and with people with disabilities themselves. This helps Sudanese society to reduce the gap between people with and without disabilities and for this to be reflected in policies and laws.
In this sense, the role of civil society is key since the country’s institutions usually request their support when they have to address disability issues because officials are not prepared to deal with people with disabilities. Nevertheless, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities is working on a Strategic Plan for People with Disabilities in Sudan that, once approved by the Government, should be adopted by all Ministries.
In the past, women have been poorly represented in organizations related to disability in Sudan. But now it is considered that women have the ability and are prepared within communities to talk about their rights.
Akhyar Omar, President of the Organization of Women with Disabilities in Sudan
About the Project
Bridging the Gap has the backing of Sudanese national institutions and is in line with the country’s development strategy, which includes support for the social inclusion of people with disabilities. The project seeks to help strengthen the participation of national civil society organizations and organizations for people with disabilities in policy formulation processes. The Organization of Women with Disabilities continues to work so that these inclusive policies pay special attention to women with disabilities.
21 June 2018
Teresa Salvador-Llivina has been the director of the COPOLAD programme since its first phase in 2011. The second phase of the drug policy programme, which focuses its annual conference on the gender approach, is currently being implemented
How do you value cooperation in drug policies within the framework of the COPOLAD programme?
The broad coverage of the programme in the 33 countries of the CELAC, has presented a significant number of opportunities for cooperation between the European region and Latin America, covering all drug-related policies. COPOLAD is the first European cooperation programme to do this. While the previous programmes focused on the sector and mainly on reducing the supply of drugs, COPOLAD is based on all the aspects included in the European Union’s 2013-2020 Drug Strategy and its 2017-2020 Action Plan.
That is, we have the opportunity to support the development of balanced, evidence-based policies. We can offer practical support aimed at concepts that have recently emerged in CELAC countries. This programme is truly a public health policy and we can disseminate very positive results.
In all these tasks, we receive key contributions from multilateral agencies, such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD-OAS) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as well as bi-regional NGO networks (RIOD and IDPC).
COPOLAD promotes the inclusion of a gender approach into drug policies. How do you see this progress and what are the main challenges?
From its first phase, COPOLAD has always been a programme committed to the inclusion of the gender approach. In fact, we devoted the annual conference of 2013 in Quito, Ecuador, to the gender approach. This conference was a first opportunity to review the situation relating to key aspects in this field. As a result of the conference, a report on the situation in the participating countries was published in 2014.
Since then, some progress has been made in the theoretical recognition of the need to incorporate this approach in all areas of drug policy. COPOLAD is now assessing that progress through a new report.
The third COPOLAD annual conference is also devoted to women and drug policies. What are the problems facing the institutions involved?
Firstly, the institutions responsible for developing these policies must ensure that the measures are based on evidence. Different types of quantitative and qualitative research must be supported to guide effective interventions that are sensitive to women’s needs and priorities.
Secondly, adequate planning is required to ensure that changes are implemented in the field. Alongside this, institutions have to offer training opportunities to ensure the development of the measures included in national strategies and action plans. These include, prevention with a gender perspective, programmes to reduce damage, measures for social inclusion and reforms in the area of justice regarding drug-related crimes committed by women
Finally, policy changes must be accompanied by appropriate budget allocations for the implementation of certain measures and services.
How can the gender perspective and the empowerment of women improve the effectiveness of drug policies? What needs should be addressed?
The drugs-related problems that women face are complex and affect different social groups. Not only those in vulnerable situations, but women of all ages and conditions. This complexity requires a comprehensive approach, and no policy will be complete, balanced, holistic and effective if it fails to take into account the risk factors that affect women and men differently,
What do you think are the best practices on gender approach in Europe, Latin America and in general?
Some promising examples from the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have been presented at this conference. Some include the evaluation of benefits derived from changes in public policies, developed programmes or new services.
I would highlight the slow but significant progress made over the last five years. At this conference, some positive data on how the new policies are contributing to improving the lives of women are encouraging. In addition to the increase in sector programmes and initiatives undertaken by the countries and multilateral institutions present.
How do you see the role of civil society in facilitating the perception of the need for a gender approach in drug policies?
For COPOLAD, according to the EU Action Plan 2017-2018, a constant dialogue must be ensured between the regional and international networks working in the field of drugs, involving civil society in the implementation and evaluation of the action plans as well as in bi-regional dialogues and cooperation programmes such as COPOLAD.
Therefore, we have a bi-regional network (RIOD) and an international one with non-governmental organisations, such as collaborating agencies. Through these, we try to support the increase in participation by civil society in each participating country
What should the focus of future initiatives regarding gender issues be?
The availability of data necessary to differentiate the specificities of drug-related problems between women and men remains limited, as is the evidence of the effectiveness of the responses made. In this context, the consideration of the gender perspective and the empowerment of women as a key element in drug policies continues to be a challenge that must be faced in practice and across the issues involved.
Therefore, research, evaluation of progress, allocation of necessary resources, training programmes and policy changes to ensure respect for women’s rights will improve their social, family, personal and health conditions. This requires a multi-sector approach capable of addressing the main challenges, ensuring coordination among agencies in which the public sector and non-governmental initiatives – led by civil society – ensure the implementation of strategies and programmes focused on equity, and provide services adapted to the individual needs of each girl and woman in our countries.
31 May 2018
Posteado en : Reportage
A number of projects managed by FIAPP are taking part in the European Development Days 2018, with gender equality as the overarching theme
“Women and Girls at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest” is the slogan chosen for the European Development Days 2018, which will be held next week in Brussels. On 5 and 6 June, the capital of Europe will also be the capital of development.
This is because, this year, the days organized by the European Commission have gender equality as their central theme. As well as promoting the participation of women in the various forums, this edition hopes to make this a safer, more open and more inclusive world for all of them.
The most important development event in the world, which is open to the public, will pack 500 meetings into two days, in which more than 2,600 speakers will take part. Among them will be 7 Nobel laureates and 100 world leaders. FIAPP will also be attending the European Development Days (EDD) to represent four of the projects that it manages: EUROsociAL+, Bridging the Gap, Triangular Cooperation and EUROCLIMA+.
The EUROsociAL+ programme promotes cooperation and dialogue between the European Union and Latin America on promoting public policies to improve social cohesion and reduce inequality in Latin America.
However, for Enrique Martínez, Communication technician for the programme, “these public policies are only effective when they attack the inequality gap between men and women, a challenge and a goal that are strongly etched into the EUROsociAL+ DNA”.
This is why, in Brussels, the programme is sharing three advances in gender equality policies, in Paraguay and Mexico and, at the regional level, in Latin America. In addition European transfer on this subject.
The executive director of the Social Cabinet of the Office of the President of Paraguay, Mirta Denis, the executive secretary of the Mexican Institute for Women, Marcela Eternod, the director of Fundación Género y Sociedad, Ana Isabel García Quesada, and the French State Counsellor, Marisol Touraine, make up “100% female EUROsociAL+ panel as a contribution to this collective journey to full equality”, said Martínez. In addition, the round table discussion will be opened and closed by Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development.
The Bridging the gap project is also taking part in the 2018 European Development Days, with a session on Women on the rise – no one left behind!, organized jointly by the EU Social Protection Systems Programme and the NGO Light for the World. This is the presentation video:
The aim of this session, according to Carmen Serrano, the project’s communications technician, is to “show that, in spite of the two-fold discrimination that disabled women face, they are spearheading sustainable development in low-income countries”. Four women will therefore share their experiences of gender and disability issues based on the different viewpoints tackled by the three viewpoints structuring the session: Social protection, leadership and entrepreneurship, and access to work and economic empowerment. It will be moderated by Hisayo Katsui, a researcher into and expert teacher on disabilities.
However, said Serrano, “The aim of presenting “Bridging the Gap” at this great European event is not just to share experiences but to create a dialogue and reflection on the role of women with disabilities in their communities”. This is why they have chosen to use the format of a Brainstorming lab. For 75 minutes, there will be constant interaction between the speakers and the audience so as to collect inputs and ideas on how everyone can create awareness among those around them of the contribution that women with disabilities can make to society.
The Evalúa project, which seeks to promote Public Policy Evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean, will attend the EDD’s for the first time to talk about some of the results obtained since its inception in 2014.
The project coordination team will attend this international cooperation forum to present one of its most recent projects, the results of the evaluation of the Costa Rican Gender Equality Policy. Also, the management, led by the Ministry of Planning (MIDEPLAN) evaluation team, will be represented by Ericka Valerio, from the Evaluation and Monitoring department.
The project is part of the ADELANTE programme, which aims to improve integration in Latin American and Caribbean countries and to contribute to their reaching their development goals (SDG). The EDD will be an important place for presenting the major conclusions and recommendations of that public policy evaluation and the planned use of this evaluation as an input to the following stages.
According to Alina Orrico, a project technician, “It is especially important to take part in this event, in which there are much fewer Latin American experiences than from other continents and, above all, because it is taking place in a year filled with emotions, demands and allusions to the need to present tangible answers that will guarantee gender equality.”
EUROCLIMA+ is the European Commission’s regional programme to promote environmentally sustainable development in Latin America. This action benefits the most vulnerable population groups, focusing in particular on gender, the impoverished rural population and indigenous peoples.
During the event, a video will be projected on Gender and Climate Change and an information map of Latin America will be drawn using gender-related information.
EUROCLIMA+ helps countries to develop their Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs to the Paris Agreement. NDCs reflect the commitment of the international community to facing up to the effects of climate change.
According to Alexandra Cortés, an expert in Communication and Visibility for the programme, NDCs “promote the inclusion of climate action in a policy framework that can lead to economic growth and social development, in addition to protecting the environment and climatic resilience”.