Women and women’s civil society organisations (CSOs) were told for two years, when they tried to raise the situation of women and women’s rights in peace processes: now is not the time.
*ABColombia & contributors of
Now is not the time to be talking about women, now is not the time to be talking about women’s rights; when there is an end to the armed conflict, then we can talk about women and women’s rights. Any peace process will encounter difficulties during the talks but ignoring the rights of women is not the answer to sustainable peace.
Various studies demonstrate that women’s direct participation in peace negotiations contributes to the quality and durability of peace. If Colombian women had been silenced and pushed into the background by this pressure, there would be no gender perspective in the Final Colombian Peace Accord (FPA). The FPA demonstrates that now is always the time to talk about women’s rights – or human rights – as women’s rights are human rights. Inclusiveness is central to sustainable peace and to peace building.
It is crucial that the FPA is implemented and that it brings transformative change and justice for women. It is crucial that women are equally involved in all of the decision- making spaces regarding implementation of the FPA.
Colombian CSOs campaigned for two years to get women front- line negotiators in the Peace Talks. Having achieved this, women’s CSOs promoted and supported a ground-breaking Gender Sub- Commission to be established at the Peace Talks.
As a result of the work of this Sub-Commission, a gender perspective was included in all the agreements in the FPA. The FPA also contains detailed information on the framework for implementation with a gender- based approach. The international normative context created by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) supported Colombian women’s campaign for inclusion.
Gender does not refer just to women; rather, it is about the relationship between men and women and socially constructed roles which are ascribed, as opposed to biological and physical characteristics. Gender roles are learnt and vary according to socioeconomic, political and cultural contexts, and are affected by age, race, class and ethnicity.
The FPA defines the gender-based approach as the, ‘acknowledgement of women as independent citizens with rights, who, irrespective of their marital status, or relationship to their family or community, have access, on an equal footing to men, to ownership of land and production projects, funding options, infrastructure, technical services and training, inter alia; attention is to be given to the social and institutional conditions that have prevented women from gaining access to the assets of production and to public and social benefits’.
Whilst recognising this, for the purposes of this report we will focus on women in relation to the gendered agreements and their implementation.
This report, launched in Colombia on the second anniversary of the FPA, builds on events held by ABColombia in London on the first anniversary in November 2017, which included a conference and a closed high-level roundtable event.
The roundtable event brought together representatives of governments, parliaments and civil society from several countries that have played a key role in the peace process, including the Republic of Colombia, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union. The discussions and the recommendations from these two events led to this report written a year after. It discusses the key agreements benefiting women, their current level of implementation and the role that women are playing.
It incorporates issues and analysis from the conference along with the advances in implementation made by November 2018, and makes recommendations for the new Colombian Government, the governments of the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Norway and the European Union.
Written at the end of 2018, the report Towards Transformative Change: Women and the Implementation of the Colombian Peace Accord considers the change in government in Colombia.
The current president, Iván Duque Márquez, came into office on 7 August 2018. Previously, the outgoing government of President Juan Manuel Santos engaged in the Peace Talks with the FARC for over four years, with the FPA being signed on 24 November 2016.
Since President Duque entered office, he has stated his intention to continue implementing the FPA. The State made a commitment, under Santos, to implement the FPA for a period of three presidential terms. The UN Security Council welcomed President Duque and re-iterated their, and his, responsibility, to continue to support the implementation of the FPA.
Colombia has an opportunity, in the implementation of the FPA, to renegotiate women’s political power, advance gender equality and promote structural change.
However, this report finds that whilst women are participating in the implementation of the FPA, this tends to be at the lower and medium levels of decision-making; women are still in the minority outside of discussions on gender, and they continue being excluded from high-level decision-making committees.
Whilst the FPA offers important possibilities for concrete changes for women, so far only 4% of these agreements have been fully implemented and for 51% of the agreements, implementation has not even been initiated.
This highlights the importance of the Duque government allocating greater resources to the implementation of the gendered agreements and taking action to guarantee that women are represented, at all levels and on all decision-making committees for the implementation of the FPA. To address structural inequality and institutional barriers, the affirmative measures envisaged in the FPA will be essential.
It must also be ensured that women’s participation is not limited to the implementation of the FPA, but that they are also present in the institutions and mechanisms of state-building and development planning.
(Next edition: Final Peace Accord: Agreements)