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United Way Blog

“I’m Fantastic” and the Fight For Gender Equality in Colombia

United Way Colombia's "I'm Fantastic" program unites young people and corporate volunteers to tackle the problem of gender inequality through education and creativity. The program uses activity kits and a specially designed book to teach participants about gender inequality and help them imagine ways to fight it. Part of the process is designing and decorating a unique superhero doll that represents each child's pledge to strive for fairness and justice. 

In 2016, an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report highlighted severe issues of gender inequality in Colombia, including differences in job participation, pay gaps, and widespread gender-based violence. This situation called for immediate action to change the deep-rooted beliefs and practices that maintain gender inequality. 

Among the participants in I'm Fantastic is nine-year-old Miguel,* whose story is a powerful example of the program's effect. After realizing the negative impact of his stereotypes and behaviors on the women around him, he was moved to publicly apologize to his classmates and teachers, showing the program's ability to foster empathy and understanding. This act of courage highlights how personal change can lead to broader social transformation. 

I'm Fantastic also creates an opportunity for corporate volunteers to use their imaginations. They, too, must read the text and design hopeful interventions for gender inequity. They are asked to think alongside their young counterparts and encourage them by participating in the program. This approach has been a resounding success, with high rates of participation. So far, more than 1000 students have participated. The volunteer satisfaction rate is also more than 90%, showing the program's success and suggesting that there is community consensus on the importance of addressing gender inequality.  

Miguel's story, set against the backdrop of Colombia's gender inequality issues, shows the profound transformation possible through programs like I'm Fantastic, which offer innovative ways to promote equity by encouraging children to see themselves differently in society. This initiative tackles the issues outlined in the OECD report and supports United Way's broader goals of improving health, education, and financial stability by focusing on gender equity. The program shows how creative and educational approaches can drive social change, aiming for a future where gender equality exists for everyone.  

United Way Colombia's ongoing mission with "I'm Fantastic" weaves empathy and support into community life. It shows that despite the challenges of gender inequality, transformation is possible through collective efforts focused on education, understanding, and change. Miguel's story and United Way's work remind us that support and empathy can bridge divides, pushing us toward a more equal and compassionate world.  

*Miguel’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.