Marcela Celay-Santos and Olga Lucia Henandez, part of the Colombian team in our project "Socio-ecological resilience in the face of global environmental change in heterogeneous landscapes – building a common platform for understanding and action", gave a talk at the BioResilisence Talks event on Jun 17th, 2020. The talk, titled "Responding to change with more change: gender and livelihood transformations in Montes de María, Colombia" analysed from a gender perspective how changes in local livelihoods in the Montes de María region have affected women more than men, and what are the implications for the territorial dynamics of this region.
The Montes de María have been one of the most important food pantries in the Colombian Caribbean due to their strategic location and fertility. These same attributes, under the current development model, have caused high levels of inequity and multiple waves of conflict. Between the 1990s and 2000s, the armed conflict generated the abandonment and forced displacement of many families and the abrupt transformation of their way of life. With the pacification of the area, its inhabitants returned seeking to rebuild their livelihoods. Based on interviews and surveys on local agricultural and livelihood activities: 1) we characterize the agro-food context of María La Baja, one of the municipalities of the Montes de María; 2) we assess whether the different bills on local livelihoods have affected men and women equally; and 3) we address the implications on the territorial dynamics of this region. Thus, we describe how livelihood transformation altered gender dynamics by spatially secluding women and relieving them of traditional agricultural spaces. We also show the ways in which women have maintained the essence of their roles, adapting to change by modifying their activities towards commercial and productive ones still based on a principle of diversification and sustainability. Finally, we discuss how social reproduction in this territory is closely related to the flexibility of women’s activities, compared to the invariability of men’s activities in the face of waves of conflict and socio-environmental change.