Intern Insight : Claire's Internship Experience in Colombia
Updated: Aug 16
As the Human Rights and Peace-Building Intern I have been given a mixed variety of responsibilities, both on-the-ground as well as administrative tasks. My main project for the summer is to organize a 40-minute talk on the inclusion of gender in public policy, social projects, and business endeavors. This research effort will be a part of a larger seminar called, “El desarrollo para la paz y equitad del genero,” aimed at inspiring women on how to impact their communities in such a way that will benefit and empower women. In addition to this, I am expected to help organize and execute workshops with the kids and the corporation’s shift in social efforts by pitching ideas for their new mission, vision, and objectives.
The women I am working with have lived through many difficult experiences and I am inspired by their efforts to overcome their tough pasts in order to help women, who suffer from similar experiences, to triumph. I look forward to 7 more weeks of this work.
In Colombian society today, many women are still disempowered by their families, suffering from violent relationships and are economically dependent on their partners. Not only that, but many women still see each other as competitors rather than being on the same team. As the other situations towards peace-building exemplified, women’s empowerment is impossible without the right tools and support from their communities. The organization works towards providing those tools for women but progress will be slower if the women do not come together and support each other.
Executing a project with goals in mind takes more than just the simple act of performing related activities. The time it takes to develop an efficient program that will leave a lasting impact is extensive, as each step of the way requires analytical thought, assessment, and adjustments. As much as I would have liked to assess our different efforts in Popayán’s communities, often times it can take a while before seeing certain impacts on and changes in the communities. I hope that by the end of my time in Popayán, I will be able to return to this prompt with more clarity on our success and what we need to change in order to be more effective with our efforts.
Before beginning this internship, I had little knowledge on how feminism and gender equity could be inserted into different professional sectors, and even less in a post-conflict context. Through my research, in preparation for our seminar at the end of July, I learned that the incorporation of gender-mainstreaming in public policy, businesses and social projects needs to be assessed at all steps of the process and requires a certain amount of accountability among all actors in order to achieve gender equity in the modern Colombian context, like in many others. Not only would this change be beneficial for women’s independence and empowerment but has also shown to positively influence all individuals, the economic status of a country, and its general level of happiness.
Now that my internship is nearing its end, I am starting to realize the importance and sense of urgency to incorporate gender-mainstreaming in all levels of society. I have also realized why international actors such as the UN and different countries have agreed to make this issue a priority as it is a leading aspect of development and a higher quality life. When I first came to Popayán, I came with information about Colombia that I had read online and seen on television. Now with my departure to the US in three days, I am coming out of this with more than just professional experience; I am returning home with a clearer idea of what my passion is, a reconsideration of my personal perspectives, and my approaches to working in a healthy work space.
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This blog post was published by Intern Colombia on July 5 2019 and written by our Intern Colombia Alumna - Claire. This post has only been edited for grammatical purposes.