Audes Estella Jimenez Gonzalez

Ashoka Fellow
Colombia
Fellow Since 2004

Citation

This profile was prepared when Audes Estella Jimenez Gonzalez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
In the past, citizen activists in Colombia strictly separated their professional work from their personal lives. Their families remained oblivious to and uninterested in the vitally important social work to which these activists dedicated their lives. Audes has introduced an approach to social change that completely inverts the old way of thinking, involving entire families in the process rather than just isolated individuals. Instead of keeping families out of activism, Audes encourages them to participate by connecting activism with fun and informative activities. She is creating different activist groups to appeal to different family members, such as a teen group that uses dance and theater to attract members and a “husband” group that offers business workshops to attract older men. This not only strengthens the bonds between the activist and her family, leading to a more harmonious home life, but it also benefits the social movement itself by bringing in additional members who would not normally have considered joining.
Community participation has always been low in Colombia, especially on the eastern coast where Audes’ base of Barranquilla is located. Previous efforts to encourage civic engagement have been largely unsuccessful and have never incorporated the whole family, instead relying on the dedication of scattered individuals. In Barranquilla, a coastal urban slum of 400,000 people, 1000 families and 60 trainer/organizers responsible for outreach have already joined Audes’ project. Beyond Barranquilla, the Association extends to five large and mid-sized cities. Audes’ plan takes advantage of pre-existing social connections within families, creating an activism that will naturally spread to extended families and distant relatives living in urban slums throughout the country.
By engaging family members through activities like dance performances and business workshops, Audes involves the whole family in the democratic participation process. Instead of being something that separates families, community activism brings them together. Parents and children discover that working together on community projects can be rewarding and enjoyable.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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