The women’s movement in Colombia has engaged in advocacy at the local, regional, national and international level to demand their inclusion in the peace process. Their efforts have brought women’s issues and gender perspectives to the negotiating table.
In 2013, women organized the National Summit of Women and Peace to establish recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process. The summit counted on the participation of over 450 women from all over Colombia and collected an estimated 810 suggestions. Shortly after, the government and the FARC publicly recognized the important role of women in conflict-prevention, conflict-resolution and peace building. In September 2014, the government and the FARC established a Gender Sub-commission to incorporate women and gender issues into the final accord.
Women also comprised 60% of the delegation of victims that travelled to La Habana, Cuba -where peace talks are held- to give recommendations. Survivors strongly put forward the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict. As a result, the draft accord on the Agreement on the Victims of the Conflict published in December 2015 included sexual violence as a crime against humanity with no possibility for amnesty.
At times, women have made up one-third of the delegates in La Habana. However, with the exception of the victims’ consultation, few women were summoned as experts to discuss other key items on the agenda. The women’s movement is now advocating for the full participation of women in the implementation of the accords. The perspectives of female combatants and women from communities where former fighters will resettle are key for the success of the agreements. Special attention on women is also necessary to prevent their re-victimization during the potential increase of security forces and the demobilization of guerrillas.
The current Colombia peace talks began in 2012. The final agreement and bilateral ceasefire are due in the coming months, after negotiating parties missed the self-imposed deadline of March 2016. To date, the government and the FARC have agreed on political participation, rural reform, drug trafficking, mine clearance and victim compensation and justice. They are currently negotiating the implementation of the agreement and details related to the ceasefire, disarmament and demobilization.
Post-conflict in Colombia- Uninvited: Women in Havana, Open Democracy, February 4, 2016.
Women build peace in Colombia, Huffington Post, June 3, 2015.
Colombia Peace Talks Fact-sheet, Colombia Reports, 2014.
Are Women key to peace in Colombia? Foreign Policy, April 20, 2015.