|Women against Violence: Breaking the Silence (UNIFEM, 1997, 116 p.)|
|Beyond the Conventions: Violence Prevention in the Andean Region|
The Gender Training Manual for justice administration system personnel of the Andean countries, supported by UNIFEM, is notable for its methodology based on practical training to provide feedback. The Manual's contents embrace the heterogeneity and common points of these five countries, to reinterpret the law with a gender approach in order to inform and sensitize about women's human rights, gender violence and its consequences. It addresses the common fact that the target audience is not exactly eager to change, being accustomed to seeing reality and the law through male-centred concepts.
The practical training process which produced the Manual began in May 1995, when female attorneys and judges, representing government and non-government agencies, academic institutions, and indigenous groups, met in Quito to prepare the preliminary version of the Training Manual, using a participatory methodology. The participants' commitment to replicate the workshop in their own countries was sought in order to adjust training to their own realities.
In July 1996, a second workshop enabled participants to discuss the final draft on the basis of experience in workshops held in their own countries. Training workshops have been replicated in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, coordinated with government and/or non-governmental agencies, bar associations and judicial bodies, such as the Supreme Court of Justice in Ecuador.10 Workshops in each country were extraordinarily well attended: in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for example, every judge in town participated. Special efforts were also made to include Indian judges. In Peru, as a result, judges working with the Aguaruna and Shipibo-Conibo peoples of the Amazon region attended.
10. For a report on the Ecuador workshops, see Sara Mansilla and Gloria Maira, "Gender and Justice Administration in Ecuador," in Ana Maria Brasileiro, ed., Building Democracy with Women (New York: UNIFEM, 1996). See also Women's Human Rights: Conceptual Approaches.
One of the most significant achievements of training in each country was breaking down the resistance of most participants, especially the men, who are unaccustomed to looking at legal postulates and traditional thinking about women in a new way. Justice personnel have generally been trained with the conviction that the spirit of the law is immovable, in addition to the unconscious male-centred approach that makes men and maleness the centre of human thinking and the law. This is manifested, for example, in ignoring international conventions and declarations regarding women's rights that States have signed. As Claudia Cres, former Ministry of Justice staff member from Colombia, states: "Women feel that they, as judges or magistrates, are not affected by discrimination, and men feel attacked." Yet when participants become receptive, the training will be much more successful. An important recommendation in this regard, made by male attendees, is that some trainers be men. It is also worth noting that the president of the Association of Magistrates of Cochabamba, for example, admitted (in the closing ceremony) that he had been mistaken in expecting the workshop to be a waste of time.