“It’s tough”: Mainstreaming gender among local state institutions in Medellin.

During fieldwork, the Secretary for Women and Women’s and Grassroots organizations talked about the need and urgency to “change the way of thinking” the traditional roles of men and women. “Colombia is a patriarchal society and women are still subordinate in many ways to men” said one of the activists.

Various civil servants I interviewed at the Secretary for Women mentioned in various occasions that still a lot needed to be done to achieve gender equality. “Women do not have the same access to the city as men do”, said the head of one of the programs for security for women.

The Secretary for Women and Women’s and Grassroots organizations talked about mainstreaming gender as one of the many ways of achieving gender equality. I spoke with one of the staff members working on this program in the Secretary for Women. “It’s tough”, she said. “We had to bring people from abroad, experts from Chile and Mexico. We organized workshops, seminars, forums that gave information to civil servants in the other secretaries of the municipality of Medellin about the importance of gender mainstreaming. For instance, changing the data systems to include information by sex. Some secretaries didn’t see the relevance in that. Others were more open and we even conducted workshops to make civil servants (men and women) aware of gender biased attitudes. But there is still a lot of work to do”.

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