Using music to strengthen youth’s resilience to violence in Colombia
Despite the 2016 Peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, Colombia continues to be the scene of multiple clashes and violence that disproportionately affect young people. Moreover, youth are prime targets for recruitment by armed groups. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about the closure of schools and increased insecurity and poverty.
Between January and June 2020, 190 minors (young people aged 12 to 17) in Colombia were recruited by armed groups, a fivefold increase compared to the same period in 2019.*
The Kofi Annan Foundation has partnered with Fundación Nacional Batuta and Alianza para la Paz to strengthen Colombian youth’s resilience to violence through musical education. The “Voices of Reconciliation and Equality” uses music to promote peace, build resilience, and encourage gender equality amongst children and adolescents in two communities most affected by violence – Saravena in Arauca and Puerto Asis in Putumayo.
What is the “Voices of Reconciliation and Equality” project?
“Voices of Reconciliation and Equality” is a twelve-month project that uses music to facilitate dialogue around peace, resilience, and gender equality. Whilst its primary aim is to support young people affected by violence, the project also seeks to promote peace, reconciliation, and equality in the larger community.
This project also organises dialogues and radio and social media campaigns in both municipalities. This is designed to amplify local understanding of resilience building and has the potential to reach over 2,000 people
Voices of Reconciliation and Equality is a whole-of-community effort that will bring together 280 young people, 140 parents, 25 music teachers, and 20 local authority representatives from the municipalities of Saravena and Puerto Asis.
What does impact look like?
The Foundation and its partners aim to promote a sense of shared belonging and identity among the young participants from communities that are disproportionately affected by violence. In their music classes, participants will be sensitized to the themes of peace and equality through vocal exercises and collective musical creation.
The project will also create an ecosystem of protection around the students by raising their families’ awareness around topics of peace, reconciliation, and gender equality and strengthening collaboration with local authorities responsible for children’s well-being and victims’ protection.
To maximize the impact of this project, the Foundation, Fundación Nacional Batuta and Alianza para la Paz will draw lessons from this experience in the two municipalities to create a model for mainstreaming peace and gender equality in music education to be replicated on multiple levels.
Thank you to the Migros Foundation and République et canton de Genève for their generous support.
Photos: Fundación Nacional Batuta. *Sources: The New Humanitarian & Relief Web
Alianza para la Paz (APAZ) is a regional organization based in Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Their work focuses on conflict management, the reintegration of juvenile offenders and gang members, the prevention of gender-based violence, and the protection of former members of violent groups.
APAZ believes in the power of people to collectively transform their communities for the better, and strive to strengthen the fabric of society, promote dialogue, build trust, encourage collaboration, and bolster institutional legitimacy in every area of their work. They also view these goals as necessary conditions for regional collaboration, and work to implement actions which are both context-sensitive, but also help create synergies between the local, national, and regional communities.
Fundacion Nacional Batuta is a Colombian organization which works on improving the quality of life of children, adolescents, and young people in vulnerable communities in Colombia who are particularly affected by violence.
Situating itself at the intersection of education, culture, and social development, the Fundacion Nacional Batuta uses musical education and collective musical practice to instill notions of inclusion, equal rights, and cultural diversity in young people. They believe in the transformative power of music and base their work on the premise that group musical education has the potential to support different facets of human and social development. Through this, they strive to strengthen the fabric of society, help individuals build the capacity to become active members of society, and generate spaces for dialogue and reconciliation.