Diana Avella

Artistic social activism for the rights of women.
UNETE, Latin American and Caribbean Network against violence towards women

Colombian Hip Hop artist, graduated in Spanish, and mother. She has worked in rap for 17 years with significant distinctions, such as the recognition of the AECID in the 53 Colombian women who change the world, the Subterránica Prize for the best Hip Hop artist and she has made tours in several countries. She has been the first Hip Hopper woman invited as an artist for the delivery of the national prize for the defense of human rights in Colombia, and the first Latin American artist to work for the defense of the rights of the lives of women in her songs, with the LP “Born Woman” in 2010. Since 2011 she is part of the Latin American and Caribbean Network (UNETE) against violence towards women. In 2010 she accompanied the campaign “Juntos por la vida”, for the objection of conscience and the life of young people in the popular sectors. She has accompanied training processes for young people from Hip Hop in popular sectors of Bogotá and now also in the rural area with the “Fundación Oriéntame” in the prevention of teenage pregnancy and with the Hollcim Foundation in the prevention of violence.

Interview with Diana Avella

One of your musical successes is “Nací mujer” (I was born a woman). Why was this song made and what message does it want to convey?

It was born from a conversation when I was recording my first album. I was in Medellín, in a cafe with some friends, and then I had to go to the recording studio. We started talking about what it was like to be a woman in hip-hop, in the neighborhood, in Medellin, in Bogotá and all over the country. Then I realized that we have a lot of prejudice about being born a woman, and a lot of fear when it comes to recognizing the leadership and strength of women. We, the women, also owed it to ourselves: to identify these leaders, empower them and make them visible. I thought I should write about this conversation. It was a magical song, because I wrote it in an hour or so, record time, and recorded it the same day.

What is your diagnosis of the situation in the country, and in other nations, of violence against women?

I once heard a phrase that stuck with me, and it was that violence against women is a public health epidemic. I understood that an epidemic infects anyone, and it kills you. It kills women, literally. […] I think the vaccine is a process not of forgiveness, but of reconciliation, but above all of empowerment. When a woman knows where the limit is, she understands that her life and her dignity, and that of her children, is worth much more than any companionship, financial support or comfort. This can save a woman’s life: identifying when love turns into sick love.

Let’s talk about another serious problem, which is experienced in Bogotá and in other cities of the country: the stigmatization against young people from popular neighborhoods..

Yes, indeed. […] Stigmatizing young people is like exterminating one’s own future. Who’s coming after us? Children and young people. Just as today I have a certain age, tomorrow I will have another and young people will come who will go through the challenges and difficulties that I and older generations have faced. Now, the young person has the challenge of arming himself with thought, of accessing possibilities and of claiming with arguments. In the field of hip-hop, for example, there is a lot of work to be done. It is our responsibility to show the city that we can offer change, that we have words and arguments to contribute to it, and that we can be part of a positive transformation.

Another of your successful songs is “La tierra del sur” (The land of the South). What is its history?

It is a call to Latin American unity. “La tierra del sur” is inspired by a book by William Ospina, called Ursúa; is the first of a series of three texts that talk about the colonization of our lands and what our ancestors were like. “La tierra del sur” speaks of a global periphery, of a global south […] that must unite around questions and demands, basically for a dignified life and for the land.

* This text includes excerpts from the interview conducted by Mauricio Rodríguez, from the RCN Radio station, with Diana Avella, on July 6, 2015.

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