Colombia's City of Women
Deyanira Reyes left, Eidanis La Madrid, Paula Castro, and Yajaira Mejía at the offices of the League of Displaced Women in the City of Women, Turbaco. Photograph: Sibylla Brodzinsky

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Colombia's City of Women: A haven from violence
The headquarters of the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas in Colombia.
Photograph: Kary Stewart

As with most Colombian cities, the roads of the busy northern town of Turbaco are laid out in a grid of numbered streets and avenues. But in one particular neighbourhood the main thoroughfare has a special name: Street of the Women Warriors.

The designation is a fitting tribute to the indomitable spirit of the women – all victims of Colombia's decades-long internal conflict – who came together, organised themselves and built the neighbourhood of 102 homes with their own hands.

The community, known as the City of Women, has been an experiment in empowering women who had lost everything to the country's rampant violence. It could prove a model for the future as Colombia prepares to sign a peace deal with leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), who have been fighting the state for more than 50 years.

Colombia's City of Women

The idea for the City of Women was born in El Pozón, a poor, crowded and impoverished neighbourhood of Cartagena, far from the stunning colonial architecture that draws tourists from around the world. The city's marginal neighbourhoods instead attract hundreds of thousands of people forcibly displaced from other areas of the country.

Nationally, more than 6 million Colombians have been forced from their homes since 1985, when records began. More than half of those displaced are women, many of whom were widowed by the war and face raising their children alone ...

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