by Mónica Amador-Jiménez
On October 10th 2019 the BioResilience Project organized a roundtable on Women, Politics and Environment in the municipality of Puerto Boyacá. For the first time during the campaign period ahead of the departmental and local elections, the candidates standing for Mayor, the Municipal Council and the Departmental Assembly, as well as the leaders of the veredas of the municipality, met to discuss the role of women in politics and their commitments to the environmental conservation in the municipality. More than 40 women, activists, politicians, and candidates discussed deforestation in the Serranía de las Quinchas, environmental sanitation in Puerto Boyacá and contamination in the Palagua swamp due oil extraction.
They all agreed on the relevance of promoting women participation in politics, to defend life and the environment and to transform the violent and patriarchal practices that oil extraction and the presence of illegal armed groups have installed in politics and in daily life in this municipality.
The roundtable counted on the active participation of two of the candidates running to become Mayor, Barbara Machado and Mónica Pérez. While Barbara Machado is an Afro-Colombian leader with extensive leadership experience in this region, Mónica Pérez is a young woman who has strongly supported the struggles of the outsourced oil workers and engaged with communities affected by oil pollution. They both agreed that environmental conservation must be done with the communities through consultations and by involving them in productive projects that allow them to take root and establish their life projects in the Quinchas, in the Ciénaga de Palagua and in other parts of Puerto Boyacá. They underlined that actions taken to conserve nature should not be a new way of justifying displacement of communities.
The round table was the second public activity of the group “Women Life Projects the in Quinchas” in Puerto Boyacá, and which is supported by the Research Project BioResilience. The group has been established to generate local awareness and capacities for the conservation and empowerment of the communities that inhabit the Serrania de las Quinchas regional park in Puerto Boyacá-Colombia.