Mission 21's presence in Chile comprises a total of three projects in the capital Santiago and the city of Concepción, some distance to the south. These projects aim to enable people on the margins of society to achieve greater self-determination. The projects in Chile focus particularly on strengthening women. Through its activities, Mission 21 strengthens the self-confidence of marginalized groups and promotes citizen participation in a variety of ways.
The challenge of social inequality
Chile has been regarded as a showpiece country in Latin America because it has managed the transition to the status of an economically successful nation. The economy is growing and Chile's per-capita income is the highest in the subcontinent. The Human Development Index, too, officially numbers Chile among the countries with a very high level of human development: almost the entire population can read and write. But this pretty façade is crumbling: Chile is one of the countries with the greatest social inequality anywhere in the world. The consequences of these differences are borne by the low-income groups of the population. Many people are still living in precarious conditions. Mission 21 aims to achieve greater justice and participation through its projects.
Mission 21 supports theological education to bring about more justice
All of Mission 21's partner organizations in Chile make important contributions towards reducing social inequality. This is also true of the theological projects: the training programs of the CTE ("Comunidad Teologica Evangélica", Theological Evangelical Community of Chile) encourage prospective pastors to shoulder social responsibility and challenge the Evangelical churches to meet their social obligations. As in the whole of Latin America, a fundamentalist tendency is evident in Chile's churches and theological training institutions. Charismatic Pentecostal churches that propagate a conservative ideology are also on the rise.
Religion and development
Together with the CTE and the Diego de Medellín Ecumenical Training Centre (CEDM), Mission 21 advocates an ecumenical, reflective and liberating theology. In this way, it makes an important contribution towards combating the dangerous trend of religious radicalisation. Many of our partner organizations and their target groups are active in society out of Christian conviction. Mission 21 and its partner organizations are convinced that religion and faith can represent important resources in development cooperation.
Promoting the advancement of women
The advancement of women is given special attention in Mission 21's projects in Chile. This is urgently needed. Women in Chile are at a severe disadvantage in politics and business. Moreover, they are very often exposed to violence within the family. Material hardship and violence are present everywhere, especially for many women living in poor districts. Many of those affected are unaware of their rights, have a poor sense of self-worth, or refuse to separate from violent partners due to financial dependency. Mission 21 and its partner organizations strengthen the self-confidence of those affected, give them a clear understanding of their rights and encourage them to network with one another.
Chilean democracy is reinventing itself
The example of Chile shows how difficult it is to recover democracy once it has been lost. The Chilean population kept their silence for a long time because they had become accustomed to living in fear and remaining inconspicuous during the 17 years of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. The election of a president was not enough to change this. Among other things, a democracy means that everyone should have a real say, and smaller parties should have the chance to be elected. Democratic processes need to get back on track.
There is still a long way to go, although increasing numbers of Chileans acknowledge that they are living in an affluent nation where a better life is possible for everyone. They are demanding their rights to more education, security and codetermination. Mission 21 is backing them, and is playing a part in enabling more people to participate actively in shaping their own lives.