By Margaret Thompson & Katerina Anfossi Gómez
FIRE -- Radio Internacional Feminista / Feminist International Radio
November 24, 2007 

 Women’s bodies are not booty for the war”

Determined to visibilize the ravages of the ongoing war and militarization on women’s lives and bodies, over 4,000 women from all over Colombia mobilized and marched to the southern Colombian-Ecuadorian border on November 22-23, 2007 to meet over 500 women peace activists from the other side.   

Colombian indigenous women at the rally

Since 2000, Colombian women have painted cloth
with slogans and images to construct a
banner of the peace movement


Called the Bi-National Mobilization of Women at the Colombian-Ecuadorian Border, the event included a rally and the next day a march that stretched over a mile through the city and mountainous countryside outside of Impial in southwest Colombia.  Thousands of women and some men participated, including indigenous, Afro-descendants and white women who were aged and young, some walking the 11-kilometer route with canes, others carrying banners or hand-painted posters with slogans that declared, “We as women will not give birth nor raise sons and daughters for the war,” and “All forms of violence against women are political.”  Housewives, peasants, trade unionists, students, displaced women, activists and academics, all declared that “we are uniting our voices and bodies against the militarization, displacement, and deaths…We call for truth, justice and reparations.”

"The war and hunger have not destroyed our dignity"



Comprised of more than 450 organizations and networks, the Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres (Women’s Peaceful Way) and the Organización de Feminino Popular (Feminine Popular Organization) organized this historic march to the international bridge at Remichaca on the border of Ecuador with the slogan, “Militarization = Violence.”   This symbolic meeting on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, a site of intense armed conflict, was also attended by officials from both governments, who formed a bi-national working group with women peace activists to begin to address many problems in the zone related to the armed conflict. 

Olga Lucía Ramírez of the Ruta Pacífica of Antioquia told FIRE in an interview that the Women’s Movement Against the War has mobilized several times since 2000 to offer support and solidarity to women in a different zone of the country each time, who have suffered from intense armed conflict in their area.  The 2006 mobilization took place in Chocó (see FIRE reports at: http://www.radiofeminista.net/colombia_indice.htm).  This year, the organizers chose the border site to raise awareness about the 250,000 persons (more than half women and children) who have fled to Ecuador away from the armed conflict in Colombia.  “We want to make visible the fact that the internal armed conflict in Colombia has had a serious impact on countries near its borders.”  However, “Colombia doesn’t admit that it has an armed conflict.”

Fumigation = misery

Olga also said the border site was chosen because the serious conflicts in that area have been fueled by Plan Colombia, a bilateral agreement with the US against drugs and terrorism.  Likewise, the FARC guerrilla group has had a strong presence there.  Olga noted for example, that the ongoing and indiscriminate aerial fumigation to eradicate coca fields required by Plan Colombia has resulted in the toxic contamination of legal crops, livestock, water and health, particularly of women and children. 

Critics of Plan Colombia including Sarah of the Christian Peacemakers Group also told FIRE that it has been a failure, creating serious problems with people’s health and the environment, and doing little to eradicate coca cultivation.

Gloria of Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres  (Women’s Peaceful Way) of Colombia said that the Women’s Movement Against the War had repeatedly called for alternative political solutions to the war that  include negotiations.  However, President Uribe (supported by millions of US dollars with Plan Colombia), has ignored such alternatives and instead has funneled money toward armaments, military personnel and training for conflict areas, resulting in the escalation of militarization and violence in daily life. 

FIRE traveled from Costa Rica to accompany the Bi-National Women's Mobilization, which was also designed to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th. 

Indigenous women create a symbolic arch to welcome
the participants from Colombia and Ecuador

Women, who are already the poorest of the poor and highly vulnerable due to patriarchal oppression and subordination (as in many countries), have faced escalating violence including sexual violence and torture in the armed conflict that has plagued Colombia for more than 40 years.   “Women’s bodies have been used as the booty of war, with sexual violence converted to a weapon to defeat the enemy, as a mechanism of social control, or as a means of punishing women for their political work and to force them to return to their “place” in the private sphere,”  according to the organizers of the event.  They presented evidence that women are held as sexual slaves and forced prostitutes.


Organizers welcomed participants at a rally on the evening of Nov. 22 by declaring, “In political contexts of repression, torture, forced disappearances, assassinations, impoverishment, curbing of civil liberties, we as feminists and women have taken the streets, the nights, the walls of cities and towns, and from there exercise our sacred right to rebel and defy the patriarchy.  We will take back our daily lives, bodies, and the pain produced by our experiences of violence.” 

"The young women...we want to live
without wars, fears and violence"


Banners and also several speakers made the connections between violence, militarization and neoliberalism, calling for women’s resistance to the exploitation of land by transnational corporations, extraction of natural resources and biodiversity, proposed construction of an oil pipeline stretching from Venezuela through Colombia to Ecuador, and plans to build an inter-oceanic canal as an alternative to the Panama Canal.    As one banner carried in the march declared, “Neither the war will kill us, nor will peace destroy us.”



"Neither war that kills us, nor peace that destroys us"
25th of November, International Day Against Violence Against Women



ENOUGH of the speaking in our name

ENOUGH of the impunity

ENOUGH of the abuse

ENOUGH of the offensive violence

ENOUGH of the negation of our rights

ENOUGH of the physical and psychological persecution and manipulation of the body and lives of women and our families and communities

ENOUGH of the continued robbery of possibilities to construct the country that we want, the country that we dream of, and the country that we need as women.”

(From the Manifesto of the Bi-National Mobilization of Women of Colombia)


Read a short summary of Plan Colombia

Find numerous FIRE reports on the Colombian women's peace movement at:



Amnesty International Report on Colombia

Wikipedia on Plan Colombia

"Manifesto Against All Forms of Violence Against Women," by the Feminine Popular Organization of Barrancabermeja & the Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres (Women’s Peaceful Way)

“Militarization = Violence Against Women,”  paper by the Feminine Popular Organization of Barrancabermeja & the Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres (Women’s Peaceful Way)



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