The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are negotiating terms of a peace agreement to put an end to 50 years of civil war in Colombia, one of the longest civil wars in history.
As part of the post-conflict Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process, the FARC’s 8000 militia will put down their weapons. Approximately 40% of the FARC are women – the DDR must be carefully implemented in order to ensure their meaningful transition to civilian life.
The FARC’s female combatants fulfill roles on the frontline and in leadership. Their skills could be transferred into areas like policing, security or election organizers upon their return to civilian life. It is not favourable to offer former women combatants positions that are geared towards the traditional roles of women, such as hairdresser or seamstress, because these jobs do not match their skill sets and will not be accepted.
Full inclusion of female fighters into civilian life is important for both the government of Colombia and the FARC. The government can build its image on the global stage by proving that it completed a DDR process, paying particular attention to gender. The FARC could use the integration of women in political arenas to build their political platform.
The Colombian civil war has taken 222,000 lives and displaced million others. The government of Colombia and FARC missed the self-imposed deadline of March 23rd to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement, but both sides hope to reach to an agreement in the near future. The government of Colombia has made the peace agreement with FARC its top priority of 2016.
Are Women the Key to Peace in Colombia?, Foreign Policy, 20 April 2016.
Engaging Women in Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR): Insights for Colombia, Inclusive Security, March 2015.
Colombia-FARC Peace Talks Just Days Away from Cease-fire Deal, Telesur, 10 April 2016.
Women of the FARC, CCTV America, 27 March 2016.