Strength in numbers: The fight for women’s rights in Peru


Group of woman putting handprints on large calendar

In Lima, Peru, a woman is murdered every two days. Julia could have been one of those women if not for Cuso International and Movimiento Manuela Ramos, a Cuso partner focused on ending violence against women.

The abuse began when she was a young girl. Home was never a safe place. The stories she shared are the stuff of nightmares—an all too common experience for too many women.

More than 68 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 reported experiencing gender-based violence in 2016, according to Statistics Peru. Unequal power relationships between men and women, male-dominated socio-cultural stereotypes and a high tolerance of familial violence are all factors at play.

And the numbers have only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Women are disproportionately affected whenever any disaster strikes, and the coronavirus is no exception. Women are more likely to be found in precarious forms of labour, to face difficult choices over income versus childcare and to experience intimate partner violence.

“If society wants to move forward, half of the population can’t be in an inferior position or face inequality of opportunities,” says Gloria Nieto, a Cuso alumna who volunteered with Manuela Ramos.

Before Julia connected with Manuela Ramos, she didn’t know that what had happened to her wasn’t her fault. But thanks to the support of other women at the centre, she’s begun to heal. Julia is now a passionate advocate for women’s rights and volunteers with Manuela Ramos to make a difference in the lives of other young women.

“Women like Julia are growing in strength and determination. Gender equality is gaining momentum and positive change is happening,” says Patricia Perez-Coutts, Chair-Elect of Cuso’s board. “But there’s still so much work to be done. We need to expand to reach even more women.”

This is why Cuso and Manuela Ramos are working together to raise women’s voices and empower them to demand change, equal rights and freedom from violence.

Julia is one of hundreds of women now accessing educational workshops and technical training to advance gender equality. Equipped with the skills needed, the future is one of hope and possibility.

You can help more women like Julia receive the critical support they need by making a donation in her name today. As the global pandemic continues, your help is needed now more than ever.