Security means that girls, adolescents, young women and vulnerable groups can all feel safe, without fear of danger that could cause us physical, psychological or material harm. And anything with the potential to cause harm would be controlled to protect the life, health and wellbeing of people and the community. 

We asked some of the girls, adolescents and young women we work with what security means to them, here are a few of their answers. 

  • To go out without being scared.
  • For the government to invest in preventing violence against women.
  • To not be afraid of anything, and for adults to look after me and protect me from violent, abusive men.
  • For the government to not see the death of so many women as normal, for them to pay attention to me when I go to the police because my life is in danger.
  • To travel on public transport and to walk the streets without fearing being kidnapped by people who go around armed and hooded.
  • To have my rights respected as an adolescent.

So what does achieving true security look like?
It requires people, communities, governments and others to create and uphold the following conditions:

  • Achieve a climate of social cohesion and peace, as well as equity, that protects our rights and freedoms at family, local, national and international levels.
  • Prevent and control the harm caused by others, male, female, institutions and media 
  • Respect the values and physical, material or psychological integrity of people, principally with regard to children, women, young women and all vulnerable groups (LGBTI, the elderly, disabled people and/or differently abled people, etc.).
  • Have access to justice to ensure that the first three conditions are taken into account.

What do Resistance and Resilience mean to you?

For us as young women resistance means: to be proactive, make decisions to undertake actions, strategies that make a difference. 

Resistance is also: to oppose an authoritarian system of governance that does not allow us to develop fully as women in the different aspects and areas of life, like religious beliefs for those who want to believe, political beliefs, economic beliefs (labour and salary equity and equality), and cultural beliefs relating to our identities, idiosyncrasies, and traditions  

And resilience? Experiencing this situation that affects us all, to face up to it and to overcome it to continue to advance towards our goals and resolutions as capable girls, adolescents and young women.

What has changed over the last two or three years? 

With regard to human rights, women are still living in a context of vulnerability, particularly girls, adolescents and young women. We live in a chauvinist, patriarchal and therefore ineffective system, in which judicial institutions such as the Supreme Court of Justice, the prosecutor’s office, the National Police, and the courts all violate their right to justice. This State hampers women’s access to justice in all ways.

Added to all this, we are then faced with an oppressive State, an abusive State, that violates women indiscriminately, principally young women who are being criminalised, harassed, persecuted, imprisoned and killed just for thinking differently, for being human rights defenders and for being feminists.

Last year, there were 7 femicides in one month, at the hands of male partners, non-partners and men linked to the current government. All of this for not agreeing with the ideologies and policies of the regime.

The context has changed over the last 15 years for non-profit organisations and NGOs too. They are being persecuted, their property seized, women feminists are being unjustly imprisoned and attacked for thinking differently, for defending rights. Some clear examples of this are that our offices have been besieged by break ins, there are delays to the review of our annual tax returns by the government, saying that we are under audit and review for being an organisation that has supported the population to stand up and protest against the regime. In some cases, they have stripped organisations of their legal registration on the basis of similar accusations.

What is the greatest challenge that feminist activists in your context currently face?

Just to continue with the struggle to demand our rights as women, so we can live in a country where laws that truly punish the perpetrators are promoted, and where impunity for femicides and the killings of other vulnerable groups such as girls, sexually diverse people and the elderly has been ended. To create conditions that favour equality and equity for women with regard to labour, the economy, culture, access to property, to land, and so much more.

Another incredibly important challenge is to halt the attacks against organisations and feminist activists. And we need more funding to continue our work  to develop and promote the rights of girls, adolescents and young women. Unfortunately, the current context means that we have been set back twenty years in the struggle for the rights of women and other vulnerable groups.