Municipality of Nicoya rolls out assistance service exclusively for women

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Translator: Arianna Hernández

The Municipality of Nicoya revamped the Social Management department and, starting this Monday, July 24, it will add an official to provide exclusive assistance to women in the canton. Previously, a single official served different populations: children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The objectives of the service include disseminating information on women’s rights and on gender-based assistance services in the country’s institutions. It will also guide victims of gender violence to receive emotional and legal support in offices of the National Women’s Institute (Spanish acronym: INAMU) or the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS).

To access the service, people have to go to the platforms in the municipality and request assistance in Social Management. They can also request an appointment via WhatsApp number 2685-8778. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

An Urgent Matter in the Canton

According to Deputy Mayor Marielos Acosta, the local government wasn’t effectively addressing the needs of Nicoya’s women by having a single official in charge of multiple departmental tasks.

According to Social Management coordinator Leslie Marchena, they intend to improve availability with the office’s new service in order to achieve that.

Since I had to attend to so many issues, I wasn’t in the office much. When it was necessary to attend to women who had experienced a situation of violence, they almost never found me,” Marchena commented.

According to data from the emergency system, Nicoya had tallied 721 calls to 911 due to gender violence by June of this year, which puts it in third place in the province, only surpassed by Liberia and Santa Cruz.

721calls to 911 due to gender violence between January and June.

Nicoyan human rights activist Patricia Ruiz thinks it would be fair to give it time in order to evaluate the quality of assistance that the department promises now.

“I hope they strengthen the service and inject resources for direct attention to gender violence,” Ruiz expressed. “Let’s give it a year to see how it works.”

INAMU’s executive president, Adilia Caravaca, affirmed that with the assignment of a new official, INAMU’s services will also be closer.

To Caravaca, opening positions that look out for gender equality is necessary in places where “gender differences and gaps [translate into inequalities in] unemployment, violence, certain cultural attitudes that minimize women and difficulties in accessing productive resources,” she said.

A Women’s Office in the Future

Reorganizing the Social Management department is a step towards forming a women’s office in Nicoya in the future.

It’s a relaunch as we get to this point [of a women’s office]. It’s a giant step because we had nothing and now we have an exclusive service,” commented the deputy mayor.

With an established office, women’s assistance functions will receive their own budget in the future. To do this, the municipality needs to create a new position to hire the person who will coordinate the new department and assign a budget. The vice mayor hopes that in the next two years, all of the legal requirements will be in place.