Case Study: Empowering older women through intergenerational solidarity building in Peru

Now young girls come, they hug me, they ask me how I am.”


Photo: Mildred Garcia, UN Trust Fund grantee in Peru working to end violence against older women.
Attendees participate in an elderly association meeting of the Ayacuyo Community. Photo: UN Trust Fund/Mildred Garcia

Nicolasa Palomino Cárdenas, aged 87, suffered violence during the internal armed conflict that blighted Peru from around 1980 to 2000. She was speaking at a programme set up in two regions of Peru by the Red Nacional de Promocion de la Mujer (RNPM) supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

Nicolasa said that before attending the programme, people didn’t ask her how she was and wouldn’t talk to her about the abuses she suffered in the conflict:

[Now, the girls] ask me how I am, they listen to my stories, they make me laugh."

The programme "Exercise of the Rights of Older Adult Women Victims of Violence from a Gender Approach", is run in Ayacucho and Huánuco regions where there are particularly high numbers of women survivors of sexual and gender-based violence inflicted during the conflict.

For many of these women, the violence continued after the conflict ended. An RNPM study revealed that the most common form of abuse experienced by older women is psychological and verbal violence, mainly perpetrated by the women’s children, relatives and grandchildren.

Discriminatory attitudes and the denial of women’s rights often result in older women experiencing a greater risk of physical and psychological violence than older men. These attitudes and mindsets also contribute to high levels of violence against women of all ages in Peru. Indeed, over a third of women experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence during their lifetime.[1]

The RNPM programme is working with government agencies to incorporate a gender perspective in plans, policies and services for older adults.

Photo: Mildred Garcia. Meeting of elderly association in Peru - project to end violence against older women
A woman participates in a community meeting for the UN Trust Fund-supported RNPM programme in Peru. Photo: UN Trust Fund/Mildred Garcia

It is also encouraging an intergenerational exchange of experiences between older women and their daughters and granddaughters; empowering older women survivors of violence; and inspiring young women to demand better protection services and an end to violence against women in all its forms.

Delia Gavino, a representative of the Regional Council of Youth in Huánuco and a young participant in the programme, said:

At first approach we were shocked. We learned and we continue to learn from adult women. There is much ignorance, as young people, of what political violence has meant in our country. If we all contribute, we can do great things for people, especially older women and our society.”

Teófila Huilcahua, aged 54, said that participating in the programme showed her that violence harms not just women, but whole families and communities:

"Today we realize the damage we have done to ourselves and our children. My husband for being violent with me, and for tolerating it.

“Wherever I go to the ladies who know that I participate in the project, they tell me to take the workshops to their neighbourhoods. There is a great need to share what we have lived, to feel that we are not alone.”