Diakonia - People change the world


In Bolivia, our work is focused on women, indigenous peoples and the most excluded sectors of society. Diakonia support community-based organizations of the indigenous peoples and Afro-Bolivians and local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in their demand for the implementation of human rights, gender equality and social and economic justice.

Bolivia is located at the very heart of South America, with a population of ten million inhabitants. Despite the economic upswing of the past decade, 36 percent of the rural population still live in poverty and almost 19 per cent of the overall population live in extreme poverty. Despite the growth of some economic sectors, large gender, social, cultural and economic gaps persist.

The rights of indigenous people

About two thirds of the population identify with one of the 36 indigenous groups in the country. With the adoption of the new Constitution Act in 2009, community-based, indigenous and Afro-Bolivian organizations became the lead actors in shaping the country’s vision and future. Nevertheless, their agenda still presents key challenges, for example the right of indigenous women to participate in politics and live free of violence, and the consolidation of indigenous autonomies as a local, democratic and inclusive form of government.To date, only one region in the country has declared itself an indigenous autonomy.

Focus on womens rights

Diakonia and its women’s’ rights organizations face the challenge of implementing the new Constitution Act by elaborating on and implementing laws to protect and guarantee women’s economic, political, social, cultural, sexual and reproductive rights. They also need to support the creation of better institutions that can prevent and respond to all forms of violence.

Diakonia’s work makes a difference

Through cooperation with our partner organizations, several goals for strengthening human rights and democracy in Bolivia are being achieved:

As a result of advocacy and extensive lobbying, our partner organizations participated in elaborating on and prompting legislative proposals concerning the rights of women and indigenous peoples that provide the framework to advance the human rights of these groups. 

Our partner organizations reached over 60,000 citizens with information, training and education on gender equality and human rights, and indirectly reached 210,000 citizens through media and internet-based campaigns. 

Read more about our work in Bolivia

  • They’ve changed social reality

    Ten to fifteen years ago, there was total silence surrounding LGBTQ issues in Bolivia. You couldn’t talk about it, neither in school nor at home. “Coming out was extremely difficult. We still don’t have the...
  • “They told us that abortions didn’t exist”

    “In our culture, we’ve always heard that a good woman should have 12 children, the same as the number of disciples Jesus had. They told us that abortions didn’t exist, but that’s not true, and silencing it...
  • “I was born a shoemaker”

    The sun burns our necks as we walk up the hill to Soledad Perez’s house. El Alto is 400 meters up, and the sun feels so close that you could touch it. “I was born a shoemaker,” says Soledad, “but I never...
  • “We were trapped in our homes, in the dark”

    Four thousand metres above sea level in Bolivia lies the city of El Alto. It’s barren. No trees as far as the eye can see. And new brick houses are being built everywhere for people who have migrated here from...