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Director Andrea Bottner Visits Colombian International Woman of Courage Award Nominee

Director Andrea Bottner recently honored embassy Bogota’s nominee for the Secretary of State’s 2008 International Women of Courage award, Colombian National Police Captain, Erika Pedraza Murillo. Captain Pedraza puts herself in harm’s way on the front lines of Colombia’s counter-narcotics and counter-terror fight as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. Captain Pedraza is a powerful role model for women in Colombia, especially given the hurdles she has overcome as a single mother in the traditionally male-dominated aviation field. While in Colombia Ms Bottner flew with Captain Pedraza to witness first hand the danger she faces on a daily basis.

During her trip Ms. Bottner focused on the role of women in the demobilization of paramilitary forces in Colombia. As part of that program Ms. Bottner met with Senator Martha Lucía Ramírez, the first woman to serve as minister of defense in Colombia. In the Senate, Ramírez introduced legislative initiatives to: permit women to become generals in the military; increase the competitiveness of Colombia’s economy; recognize the rights of the internally displaced; and increase youth participation in public life. Ms. Bottner also had the opportunity to meet with representative from La Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, a national women’s peace movement in Colombia who have been organizing and mobilizing women against the continued internal armed conflict in Colombia since 1996. She also met with USAID colleagues and female anti-narcotics police.

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