Posted on July 8, 2017 8:54 am
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Categories: Women

The Contribution of Women to the Colombian Peace Process: New Book Highlights Historic Role (E)

Excerpts from Gender and the Role of Women in Colombia’s Peace Process, by Virginia M. Bouvier. “When peace talks began in 2012 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), one half-century of internal armed conflict had already left in its wake a death toll surpassing 220,000—more than 80 per cent of whom were civilians. From 1958-2012, five million Colombians were forcibly displaced from 6.6 million hectares of land—an area roughly equivalent to the size of Switzerland—in what was effectively a counter-agrarian reform that consolidated half of Colombia’s land in the hands of 1 per cent of its population. By 2015, the number of internally displaced people (IDP) registered with the Colombian government was 5.859 million, giving Colombia the largest IDP population in the world after Syria. About 58 percent of these IDPs are female.”

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“Experiences of armed conflict are infused with gender dimensions—sometimes obvious and more often hidden. Analysis of the Colombian conflict and the efforts to resolve it reveal a palimpsest of attitudes and social practices related to gender, many of which pre-date the war. Women’s experiences in Colombia have historically been marked by patterns of social and political exclusion, which impact gender roles and relations. In shifting contexts of war and peace within a particular culture, gender attributes, roles, responsibilities, and identities shape, and in turn, are influenced by the norms for engagement in war and peace.”

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“Increasingly, research is showing strong correlations between peace, security, and a society’s treatment of women. More than levels of wealth, democracy, or ethno-religious factors, the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness and stability is how well it treats its women.”

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“Whether or not women’s proposals in Havana will be transformed into policy options that promote sustainable peace through gender equality and empowerment of all girls and women remains to be seen. Will the truth commissions, land commissions, peace constituencies, reconciliation commissions, and other mechanisms that are established as part of the peace accords include gender parity and perspectives in their design, composition, implementation, and evaluation, as called for by the National Summit of Women and Peace. Will gender-sensitive budgeting exercises help ensure that the budgets for development projects designed to help pull the country out of war benefit men and women equally? If violence against women and the LGBTI community has been a tactic of war, will this be explicitly catalogued as a violation of any ceasefire agreements? Will respect rather than dominance be promoted as the new model for masculinity during peacetime? Will female and male ex-combatants each be given appropriate, differentiated options that meet their needs? Will reparations ensure women’s full access to land, restitution, and other benefits? Women’s organizations and their international allies will have to persist in their hard work to ensure that these questions are raised and addressed.”

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“A peace process is more than just the signing of an agreement at the peace table; it offers the opportunity to address the underlying social inequities and injustices of a society that are at the roots of a conflict. Understanding the gender dimensions of a conflict as well as the various phases of the peace process helps to identify and evaluate the multiple entry points for women’s engagement. In a preparatory phase, the groundwork for a political solution is laid. This is usually followed by a period of formal negotiations or peace talks (with or without a mediator). An extensive period ensues for implementing agreements, holding parties accountable to their commitments, and engaging in the reforms and peacebuilding activities that will sustain the peace. In each of these phases, there are a myriad of roles and opportunities for women.” Gender and the Role of Women in Colombia’s Peace Process