Bringing Gender to the Classroom

At the Universidad Nacional de Colombia one of the courses I teach to students enrolled in the Political Science undergraduate program is International Relations. In all of my courses, I always include gender. My course on International Relations was no exception.

This week, the subject was gender and international relations. Instead of giving the classic lecture on gender theory and international relations, or discussing the assigned reading, I decided to invite Gloria Moncada, a public servant working at the Secretary for Women in Medellin and responsible, among other things, for executing and supervising projects on gender mainstreaming within the state institutions of Medellin.

I think it is better to grasp the complexity of international treaties that states sign and ratify (for instance, gender equality or gender mainstreaming) by listening to the first-hand experiences of someone within the state institution attempting to execute these agreements through projects.

How does it work? What obstacles do public servants at the Secretary for Women encounter?

Gloria Moncada gave an excellent presentation to my students about Gender and Development and how it translates into the many projects carried out by the Secretary for Women. Despite international agreements signed by the Colombian state to implement gender equality and gender mainstreaming through varios development programs on the local level, the Secretary for Women have encountered various obstacles such as: coordination and competition with other local state institutions or the negligence in some institutions to separate some data and censuses by sex. Because of this, gender inequality in some areas is invisibilized.

How do you change something unknown?

IMG_1395

(Gloria Moncada, Secretary for Women. Photo: Lirio Gutiérrez Rivera)

Gloria not only spoke about the struggles of mainstreaming gender within state institutions in Medellin, she also spoke about gender violence -a pandemic in Medellin – the influence of armed actors on local planning initiatives, and the impact of the privatization of social services on gender. In these three cases, gender inequality is accentuated, and women are the most affected.

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