After almost five decades of armed conflict, women are among the strongest forces for peace in Colombia. UNDEF supports an initiative for women´s participation in democracy as a means to peace and development. Implemented by the CorporaciónCentro de Apoyo Popular, the project works in the impoverished community of Soacha, which was at the centre of a deep controversy over alleged extrajudicial executions in 2008. By engaging women in public policy at the municipal level, the project helps address the area&rsquos social and humanitarian problems originating from armed conflict.
Even 20 years after the end of its traumatic 12-year civil war, El Salvador remains highly polarized. UNDEF funds a project to train women political leaders -- both as a means of correcting gender imbalance and as an entry-point to building greater unity in the country. Implemented by the Association of Salvadoran Women Parliamentarians, the project brings together women from all six political parties represented in the Legislative Assembly, including FMLN and Arena. Graduates have gone on to become parliamentarians, mayors and municipal officials. As important, the training builds dialogue across party lines -- a new experience for most of the participants.
Fifteen years after the peace accords, Guatemala is now grappling with daunting challenges in governance as a result of massive drug-related violence. An UNDEFfunded initiative continues to operate in the northern Guatemala province of Alta Verapaz, even after the government declared a state of siege there in December 2010. The project works to offer alternatives to young people in the face of growing domination by drug gangs. Implemented by the Asociación de Amigos del Desarrollo y la Paz, the initiative trains young people in community leadership, rule of law, local governance, and effective dialogue.