International Women's Day: The Story of Andrea Gonzalez

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Andrea Gonzalez Duarte
Barrio Boxing

On March 8, International Women's Day, Hanze shares the story of Andrea Gonzalez Duarte. Andrea Gonzalez Duarte (34) was born in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. As a baby, she was adopted by a Dutch family. Since 2019, she has been living in Colombia again, where she founded the Mi Barrio Mi Sueño Foundation. 'My Neighbourhood My Dream' is a foundation that wants to empower women and children.

"I grew up in the Netherlands, near Sneek. I did CIOS there, so I did a lot of sports. As a result, I know how sport can empower people, women in particular. After that, I studied Social Work and Services at the Hanze. During the programme, I did a minor on Curaçao, where I met my boyfriend. After two and a half years on Curaçao, we wanted a new challenge so we went to Colombia, also to discover what culture I actually come from. We live in Medellín, the city of eternal spring. A city that is in full development."

Enough is enough

"During the pandemic, all kinds of things came together. We were in lockdown here for eight months and you were only allowed to go out once a week for groceries. People were starving. 42 percent work informally here, which means that a day without work is a day without income. I then realised that I had to do something with my social education and we started handing out food packages. While distributing the food packages, we often heard talk of abuse and domestic violence. Violence against women and children. My mother had an abusive relationship, which determined my fate. That's how I got adopted. That's why I grew up in the Netherlands and studied. As a result, I now have the tools and the power to say: enough is enough. I know I can't change an entire country, but I'm doing what I can.

That’s when we started Barrio Boxing for girls and women to defend themselves against the day-to-day violence. We started with English lessons and with the bracelet project where single mothers earn an income. We started handing out ovens, because most women cook on wood and that is very harmful to the lungs. Two million people still die from the effects of cooking on wood in the home."


"I've just come from a meeting to start the Barrio Boxing project in India as well. My dream is to empower women all over the world. To create equality. To make sure all children have something to eat. That Mi Barrio Mi Sueño will go from a foundation to a movement. I am using the skills I learnt during my study programme on a daily basis. Talking to the children, being able to empathise with someone else's situation, acknowledging who I am. Because of my education I can do this, I have the tools to do this. I have been able to make my work my mission. Each one can make a difference, together we can make a change."

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Fields of interest

  • Behaviour and Society
  • Sports and Health