In Defense of Ancestral Lands

Nidiria Ruiz Medina belongs to the Naya River Basin community council, an Afro-descendent population in the southern area of Colombia’s Pacific region. She is part of an organizational process that contributes to the defense of territory and human rights. Her organizing work is articulated through the national CONPAZ (Communities Building Peace in the Territories) network, which provides tools and fundamental elements for building community. 

Nidiria is an example of how rural women play an essential role in peace-building efforts. Through the AINI “Spring Fountain of Flowers” Women’s Association, women work to rediscover the importance of fighting for participation spaces that allow them to make decisions and advocate for a vision of peace. Nidiria is a woman who defends collective territorial rights and identity through a gender approach. Despite the risks that this victimized population confronts—resisting a complex reality of conflict, exclusion, marginalization and historical state abandonment—Nidiria believes the Colombian Peace Agreement has helped reaffirm the rootedness of the land and spurred dreams of hope. 

Together with the AINI Association and the CONPAZ network, Nidiria and her community have decided to exchange tears for smiles, promoting leadership based on a model of justice, truth, reparations and non-repetition, as ratified by the Victim’s Chapter in the Colombian Peace Agreement. That is why her community continues to struggle for ancestral autonomy and independent education. This includes a Peace University, which emphasizes inclusion and participation, commemorates struggle and conflict resolution, and generates leadership rooted in social and community work, training, and peace-building strategies. 

Nidiria motivates rural women to become visible in the reconstruction and reconciliation of values, and by weaving a social fabric that leads to inclusive social justice, she advocates for rural women to be in positions of transformative power. 

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