Embera Wera Project - ending female genital mutiliation
Three years ago, a young Embera-Chami girl was rushed to hospital, where she died as a result of the circumcision that had been performed on her. Her case raised alarms among local authorities and the United Nations Population Fund, who decided to step in.
This is how the Embera Wera Project – “Embera Woman” in the Embera language – was born. Its goal was to help the Embera-Chami become aware of the harm female genital mutilation inflicted on their young girls and to promote the rights of women within the community.
“When you are trying to tackle the cultural roots of a problem, you cannot simply write on a paper that it must not be done,” said Flor María Díaz, coordinator of the UN program on gender violence in Colombia and one of the people in charge of the Embera Wera project.
“It is a long and complex process, not to mention a very delicate one,” Diaz added. Long and complex, she explained, because it requires the decision to be made by the community itself, something that takes time. And delicate because indigenous groups, who represent only 3% of Colombia’s inhabitants, are often reluctant to accept people from outside their communities telling them that they must change their traditions.
© Andrea Castrillón Álvarez