September 11th 2023

Colombia: Forum on Care and Health with a Gender and Ethnic Approach

Integrating the voices of indigenous women for a gendered and ethnic approach to health care in Colombia.

A gendered and ethnic approach to health

The forum Care and Health with the Gender and Ethnic Approach addressed issues related to health for indigenous and afro-Colombian women across the country and provided recommendations on the implementation of a gendered and ethnic approach to health within the health system.

The forum was created by HealthNet TPO in collaboration with the Minister of Health and Social Protection, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo Martínez. It brought together representatives of indigenous and afro-Colombian women from different regions of the country.

The Minister described the objectives of the forum as an opportunity for women to share their experiences. "Today we wanted to summon all of you, so that you can give line to this ministry, so that with your experience and leadership in the different territories of this country, you can give us your proposals, we have the obligation to build with you all the policy towards the future." Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, Minister of Health and Social Protection of Colombia

Women leaders from varying territories shared their own experiences of the health system and cultural barriers to accessing quality care. It provided an opportunity to create health promotion from culturally situated practices and with an intersectional approach.

"Health for us is to prevent us from getting sick, we have to have harmony within the body, the spirit and mother nature, if mother nature is sick, we are not going to have health, we are not going to breathe a healthy environment."


María Yalanda Campo, Governor of the Misak Community

Speakers included representatives of indigenous and afro communities from across the country. From left: María Clara Juajiboy, Yasmilly Sarahin Palmar, Yulienis Yajaira López, Elisa Jojoa Tobar, María Yalanda Campo.

Different sectors of academia, community-based organisations, territorial leaders, district, municipal and departmental health entities participated in the development of the forum, as well as medical personnel linked to health care, who addressed the role of afro and indigenous women in public health policy environments and community settings.

"An intercultural perspective must be incorporated that takes into consideration racism, structural discrimination, risks and differences in care based on ethnicity and race, as is the case of the experiences of indigenous and Afro-descendant women."

- Carolina Leguizamón, Programme Coordinator HNTPO Colombia
Yasmilly Sarahin Palmar Pacheco from the Wayú Women's Collective (right) shares her experiences on barriers to access health and care and the steps required for the future.

"We need a doctor who understands our culture, a doctor who knows how to deal with an indigenous person, we need doctors who speak our language, we need this type of institution to accompany us from the territory."

- Yasmilly Sarahin Palmar Pacheco, Wayú Women's Collective.

Recommendations for a differential gender and ethnic approach in the health system

The dialogues and debates that arose allowed all participants, including HNTPO and the Ministry, to review the progress, gaps and barriers to accessing quality, permanent care within the health system.

Following the forum, the discussed recommendation on the implementation of the differential gender and ethnic approach in the health system will be presented in a technical document to contribute to the Colombian health system.