The Final Peace Accord (FPA) contains agreements on: Comprehensive rural reform, political participation, Security guarantees (for ex-combatants as well as communities and HRDs), Solution to the illicit drugs problem, Victims and implementation and Verification mechanisms, and ethnic perspectives.
The report “Towards transformative change: women and the implementation of the colombian peace accord” looks at these in relation to women under the thematic headings of Rural Reform and Development; Victims and the Integrated System for Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-repetition (SIVJRN); Protection; and FARC reinsertion.
The FPA guidelines for implementation state: ‘the conditions in order for equality to be real and effective will be guaranteed in its implementation, and affirmative measures will be adopted in favour of groups that are discriminated against or marginalised, taking a territorial-based, equity-based and gender- based approach into consideration.’ Moreover, the gender- based approach must be ‘…applied in a cross-cutting manner in implementing the whole of the Agreement.
Women’s CSOs created effective alliances to advocate for progressive social and political agreements in the FPA; these were led by the Cumbre de Mujeres (consisting of 9 women’s networks) and the Alianza Cinco Claves (consisting of Sisma Mujer, Humanas and the Women’s Network).
This cooperation across women’s organisations with different political perspectives led to their proposals being incorporated into the FPA; this included, in the case of Cinco Claves, securing no amnesties or pardons for conflict sexual violence (CSV), as well as other innovative recommendations on the transitional justice mechanisms.
The UN’s work on women and CSV, and the UK’s promotion of a Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict (2014) served to support the work of CSOs on CSV.
The hard-won gains of women’s CSOs were also across other agreements: political participation, which offers the possibility of strengthening democracy by prioritising equal participation of women in decision- making committees; several chapters incorporate development and a gender focus aimed at addressing social and economic inequalities, especially those experienced by women, and which have made them particularly vulnerable to violence. If these are fully implemented, then the FPA holds the potential for transformative change for women in Colombia.
A gender-based approach: designing local development plans
One of the key themes running through the FPA is that of increased citizen participation and de-centralisation. This is in order to promote democracy at the local level.
The lack of state intuitions at the local level, or institutions that are weak or corrupt, has been a feature of this conflict.
The Development Plans with a Territorial Focus (PDETs), a crucial flag-ship programme in the Comprehensive Rural Reform (RRI) chapter, sets out to guarantee participation at the local level in development planning; to achieve this, workshops were held locally.
Women represented just over 40% of the participants in these workshops; despite this, there is only one plan that has incorporated a gender-based approach with concrete programmes to address the specific needs of women.
Various reasons have been put forward for this, including the methodology, which promoted a generalised discussion instead of taking specific issues into account. However, women’s CSOs say that on the one hand several of them were not invited to these discussions and on the other, the proposals that they did put forward did not appear in the final ‘community pacts’.
Since the PDETs have the potential to run for the next 15-years, this report recommends a further round of workshops at the local level, whereby women’s CSOs and women’s representatives of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, in the localities where the PDETs were designed, can add a gender focus.
Inequalities in economic and social rights are some of the root causes of this conflict; addressing these through development strategies is vital for sustainable peace.
Colombia has in parallel to the FPA been developing other economic policies that rely heavily on extractive industries, agribusiness and infrastructure projects, such as the Zones of Interest for Economic and Social Rural Development (ZIDRES), which disproportionately benefit those who are the most powerful.
ZIDRES, for example, is in direct opposition to access to land for the poorest as stipulated in the FPA; as a result, ZIDRES is likely to impact on a central feature in the RRI, that of promoting the campesino economy.
Colombia needs to ensure that new public policies are harmonised with those in the FPA, in order to promote consistent policy making across all government departments with a focus on sustainable economic development strategies that benefit all social groups.
This is essential for re- building trust and re-establishing the social contract with rural communities. Ensuring women’s participation in decision-making about the economy and access to resources is also crucial to ensuring gender-responsive and inclusive policies.
According to the Kroc Institute, the RRI is one of two chapters with the lowest percentage of the agreements implemented to date.
If Colombia succeeds in implementing the PDETs as envisaged in the FPA, this will also go a long way to meeting its international commitments in CEDAW Recommendation 30, as well as Sustainable Development Goal One (1.4) on addressing rural development with a focus on the poor and the vulnerable, and promoting more equal access to economic resources, basic services, land ownership, and target (1.B), on creating sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions.
(Next edition: Women and a solution to the illicit drug problem)