Violence against women is an international problem, with devastating consequences. In Bolivia, Humanity & Inclusion works alongside communities to reduce risks and protect women with disabilities.
Content warning: Physical and sexual abuse; domestic violence
One in three women experiences physical or sexual violence within their lifetime. Additional factors such as inequality, poverty, crisis, and disability further increase the risk of violence to women and girls worldwide.
Often targeted due to mobility limitations, dependency on others, or barriers to reporting abuse, women and girls with disabilities experience significantly higher rates of violence than those without disabilities. They are also subjected to abuse for longer periods of time, with fewer resources available.
“Violence against women with disabilities is a reality,” says Lidia Pereira, Humanity & Inclusion’s Economic Insertion Project Manager in Bolivia. “But it is not always visible. Violence prevention services do not necessarily have knowledge surrounding disability, so access to information and care is limited for them.”
Gender-Based Violence in Bolivia
Bolivia is no exception to this epidemic. The country has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Latin America, often linked cases of sexual abuse. More than half (52.3%) of women report having experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, but only 1% of all gender-based violence cases are prosecuted and convicted.
In Bolivia, women with disabilities are 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence than women without disabilities. Seven out of 10 women with disabilities report having been subjected to violence within their families, and half of those reported being survivors of sexual violence. It is estimated that only a small percentage of cases are reported, given that many women and girls with disabilities are in situations of dependency.
Protecting and Empowering Women
Humanity & Inclusion takes a community-based inclusive approach to prevent violence against women through its projects in Bolivia. Alongside the Gregoria Apaza Women’s Promotion Center and the Institute of Socioeconomic Research of the Universidad Catolica San Pablo, Humanity & Inclusion works to ensure that women with and without disabilities can demand, advocate for, and exercise their rights.
Humanity & Inclusion tackles factors that increase risk of violence by:
- Educating women and girls about their sexual and reproductive health. Humanity & Inclusion has developed and published accessible, inclusive guides and materials for women, girls and caregivers.
- Strengthening financial resilience. Humanity & Inclusion works to improve inclusive access to training and job placement to enable women with disabilities to gain financial independence and autonomy.
- Promoting women’s rights. Humanity & Inclusion develops material and trainings to raise awareness about women’s right to live free of violence and access comprehensive education.
- Strengthening community resources for violence prevention and care. Humanity & Inclusion works to include the needs and participation of women, including women with disabilities, in response plans. Teams identify and share accessible gender-based-violence resources.
Training Community Leaders
Women participate in training sessions as community leaders to gain knowledge and confidence to exercise their rights.
One participant shared that her role as leader of a local women’s group resulted in her experiencing domestic violence at home. After reporting her case to the authorities, she said that participating in Humanity & Inclusion’s sessions has allowed her to feel “safe and content” with her decision to denounce her aggressor.
“With this proposal developed by Humanity & Inclusion and its partners, women with and without disabilities can have the tools to prevent, inform and support other women in situations of violence, promoting a life free of violence for all women,” Pereira explains.
When Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, Humanity & Inclusion mobilized its teams to help the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis. Providing emergency response in almost all the countries where Humanity & Inclusion works has been a major challenge, especially since its emergency teams are normally able to focus their efforts on a handful of countries or regions. Humanity & Inclusion therefore provided emergency response and adapted its routine projects to help all those in need.
As of December 2020, more than 65 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 1.5 million people have died.
While the epidemic has hit Western countries extremely hard, it is also affecting many countries in Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America and Africa, which are already affected by violent conflicts, political and socio-economic crises, frequent natural disasters, and significant climate change. Thousands of people need assistance.
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Humanity & Inclusion has:
- Provided response in 46 of the 50 countries where it works;
- Implemented more than 160 projects in aid of people affected by the Covid-19 crisis;
- Given assistance to more than 2 million people between March and August 2020 alone;
- Provided more than 1.6 million people with information on Covid-19 prevention measures;
- Distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits containing hand sanitizer, soaps, and other items;
- Distributed more than 800,000 masks;
- Provided food to more than 6,800 vulnerable families;
- Organized thousands of psychosocial support sessions for people who feel insecure or traumatized as a result of the crisis;
- Conducted thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in countries where a strict lockdown has been imposed to continue providing its routine services to people in need.
Beyond its impact on health, Covid-19 has had a considerable effect on children’s education. According to a Unesco report, some 1.6 billion children and teenagers have been deprived of school education in 190 countries as a result of the pandemic. The situation is even more worrying for children with disabilities, who find it harder to access education.
This pandemic has also considerably increased poverty and food insecurity. People in 25 countries are expected to face devastating levels of hunger in the coming months due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of acute food insecure people could increase from 149 million before the pandemic to 270 million.
Identifying the needs of the most vulnerable people
Humanity & Inclusion's teams and volunteers trained by the organization have identified the needs of the most vulnerable people including older people, single women with children, people with disabilities, migrant populations, and refugees. Those with the greatest needs are receiving direct assistance such as awareness sessions, distribution of hygiene kits, food assistance, cash transfers, and psychosocial support, or referrals to an organization that can offer them appropriate care, including healthcare for those infected with Covid-19.
Leading awareness-raising sessions
More than 1.6 million people affected by the pandemic have taken part in awareness sessions in villages and communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean, and at home. Humanity & Inclusion has provided people with information on Covid-19, including the risk of transmission and prevention measures, through group meetings in villages, refugee camps, and the like; one-on-one sessions; and awareness campaigns based on leaflets, posters, and other materials. The organization has also aired programs on radio and TV. For example, in Nepal, Humanity & Inclusion has produced videos with subtitles and in sign language adapted to people with hearing difficulties, in partnership with the World Health Organization, which have been aired on Nepalese television.
Offering psychosocial support
Humanity & Inclusion has provided psychosocial support to people affected by the pandemic and the trauma it has caused, from economic hardships to loss of family and friends. More than 225,000 people received psychosocial support, including by telephone, from Humanity & Inclusion. The organization has also provided support to medical staff who are on the front line.
Distributing hygiene items, food, and cash
Humanity & Inclusion has distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits composed of hand sanitizer, soaps, cleaning supplies, and the like. More than 800,000 masks have also been provided to people who need them.
In many countries, the food supply chain has been disrupted by border closures and lockdown measures. In Bolivia, especially, it is more complicated to access food in cities. Price inflation has soared and many people, who have lost their jobs, have found it more difficult to access food. Humanity & Inclusion has provided food assistance to more than 6,800 families by distributing goods, cash transfers, non-perishable foods, fresh produce from partner organizations, and so on.
Humanity & Inclusion has also identified people living in situations of extreme vulnerability, including refugees and families living in extreme poverty, and provided them with cash transfers to access basic services and meet their basic needs such as paying rent, buying food, and going to the doctor. So far, 7,565 families have received cash transfers from Humanity & Inclusion.
Transporting humanitarian supplies
The measures put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 have entrenched humanitarian crises and made it harder to implement humanitarian aid projects. Faced with the difficulties of transporting humanitarian supplies and mobility issues caused by lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions, Humanity & Inclusion, through its logistics department, has shifted the focus of its operations in Central African Republic, Bangladesh and Mali. News projects were also implemented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti for the transport and shared storage of health and humanitarian equipment, the repair of airport runways and roads to isolated health centers, and the like.
Humanity & Inclusion has also mobilized three experts from the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) to coordinate airlifts to 12 countries. More than 141,000 cubic feet of emergency supplies and 1,200 humanitarian and medical staff were transported as part of this operation.
Conducting tele-rehabilitation sessions
Humanity & Inclusion continued providing rehabilitation care to patients who need it by adapting its working methods to the Covid-19 pandemic. Where the situation allowed, physical therapists continued to provide care in rehabilitation centers in compliance with safety rules such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
In countries where lockdowns were imposed, online tele-rehabilitation sessions have enabled thousands of patients to continue doing their physical therapy exercises at home by watching videos or receiving instructions via telephone, WhatsApp, and other technology. Humanity & Inclusion has organized thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in Nepal, for example, and developed virtual rehabilitation apps in Rwanda and Vietnam.
Promoting safety and inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion referred more than 470 people with the greatest protection needs, such as single women, isolated children, and refugees to specialized organizations able to offer them appropriate support.
Lastly, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams trained 201 staff from partner humanitarian organizations to include the most vulnerable people such as people with disabilities, isolated women, and older people in activities organized for victims of the Covid-19 crisis. The aim is to ensure that no one is left behind.
"Hi from the field," comes direct to you from our field staff. Learn why our mine action team is planting trees after clearing weapons in Colombia. Step inside a rehabilitation center in Bolivia, where our donors ensure that children with disabilities can thrive.
Watch and share!
Meet Erika Romero, Humanity & Inclusion's demining area manager in Colombia and learn why our mine action team is planting trees in places where they've cleared weapons.
Meet Rana, a physical therapist with our Lebanon team. With a goal to get more Syrian refugee children into school, and of course to improve their quality of life, she assesses children at a rehabilitation center.
Take a step inside an inclusive classroom for children with visual disabilities in Niger and watch as these incredible children learn how to read and write in Braille.
When villagers in Laos found unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from war, they immediately reached out to Humanity & Inclusion's mine action team to help remove them. Watch our deminers in action.
While visiting Humanity & Inclusion in Chad, Gilles Lordet from HQ met up with our demining team. There, he followed their every step and got to see the SAG200 (like a HUGE combine tractor) in action!
Valérie Beauchemin, HI's country director for the Andean States, visits a rehabilitation center where our team conducts physical therapy sessions for children ages 0-3 in Caracollo, Bolivia. Join the tour and meet sweet kiddos, Ruban and Nicolas!
“Qualified rehabilitation professionals are in short supply in Bolivia with very few training courses, particularly outside the capital,” explains Narel Gomez, Handicap International’s rehabilitation project manager. “One of our top priorities is to boost the skills of professionals working in the sector and to help people with disabilities become more self-reliant and integrated in their communities.”Read more
When Ismael was four, he lived with his parents and two older sisters in the city of Oruro–in western Bolivia. Ismael was a cheerful and energetic boy, who loved playing outdoors. One day, when his mother was out of town and his father was busy, Ismael went to the train tracks to play. After a few hours, Ismael became tired and fell asleep on the tracks.Read more
Humanity & Inclusion in Bolivia
Our team has worked in Bolivia since 2011 to promote social inclusion of people with disabilities and help them access rehabilitation care. Humanity & Inclusion also works to protect women and girls, including those with disabilities, from gender-based violence.
Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Since 2005, the year Evo Morales was first elected President, Bolivian society and institutions have undergone a process of fundamental change. That election marked a decisive turning point in terms of the recognition and inclusion of the country’s 36 ethnic groups and indigenous cultures. Social and economic reforms were also initiated. Nevertheless, while Bolivia is a country with strong economic growth, inequality persists and people with disabilities remain excluded.
Areas of Intervention
- Economic inclusion
- Sexual and reproductive health
Humanity & inclusion's 8-person team in Bolivia works to help people with disabilities find gainful employment and improve their inclusion in society. In the municipalities of El Alto and La Paz, Humanity & Inclusion links people with disabilities with employment opportunities and runs training sessions on operating an inclusive workplace.
In Oruro, Potosí, Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba, we have set up several rehabilitation centers where we help train staff to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the rehabilitation services they need.
Our team provides people with disabilities, parents of people with disabilities, educators, and others with information on the reproductive and sexual rights of people with disabilities and issues such as gender-based violence. Humanity & Inclusion is working to develop a strategy to prevent and protect women from violence and abuse, with a focus on migrant and indigenous women as well as children with disabilities.
Our Past Work
Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Bolivia since 2011. Over time, we have evolved our work to meet the dynamic needs of the communities where we serve.
Read on to learn more about our past work in Bolivia, and consider investing in our future.
In partnership with the Bolivian Ministry of Health, Humanity & Inclusion to set up seven rehabilitation centers in the country's poorest regions: Potosi and Oruro.
Disaster risk reduction
Bolivia is highly exposed to natural disasters, including droughts and floods. Humanity & Inclusion previously provided support to local authorities and members of civil protection services to ensure that they take people with disabilities, children, aging people and other populations with specific needs into account when forming emergency preparedness plans.