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Women as Central Agents for Peacebuilding in Colombia

Countries:
Start project:
  • 2016
Donors:
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Partners:
  • Ruta pacĂ­fica de mujeres - Colombia

ICCO and Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres will develop a strategy of communication, advocacy and violence prevention, to promote egalitarian participation of women and men in post agreement - peace building scenario in Colombia.

In Colombia, discrimination and exclusion of women from social, economic, cultural and political life is widespread and encouraged by accepted social constructs and structural factors. In this context, on a daily basis, women suffer violations of their rights at alarming levels, and also violence against them in public and private spaces. Women and men face different types of violence in different regions in the context of different conflict dynamics.

There is a clear relation between gender-based violence (GBV), human trafficking and the internal armed conflict in Colombia. The context of conflict creates certain conditions, including for example recruitment, forced displacement, constant migration, structural conditions of poverty, vulnerability of ethnic groups and drug trafficking, which create an ideal scenario for human trafficking with criminal networks involved. Children, adolescents and women have been recruited by illegal armed groups to be combatants or informants, to cultivate illegal drugs or to be exploited in prostitution.

The armed violence impacts the entire population, but specifically armed conflict generates differentiated and disproportionate impact on women from different sectors of society. Looking at violence against women in the Colombian conflict, we can analyse it in terms of gender and with the notions of fear, power, honour, and sexuality, emphasizing on the different kinds of gender systems present in Colombia. Machismo can be seen as one of the gender systems influencing the patterns and rules, but also violence in the Colombian society. Moral systems such as the patriarchal system construct the cultural norms and values.

In this context, women face greater risk of being victims of forced displacement and sexual violence; being exploited and enslaved to perform domestic chores to illegal groups, and being stripped of their land and heritage. Women membership in social and community organisations of defence of human rights, their personal or family relationships with members of legal or illegal armed groups, or as victims of gender based violence as indigenous, black or rural women in the middle of an armed conflict can be considered as risk factors where their own lives could be in danger because of the role they have played in one context or another across the critical conflict zones in the country.

A peace negotiation process between the government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the biggest and oldest guerrilla group in the country) began in Cuba in 2012. They have now reached agreements in all points of the negotiation agenda and the Peace Agreement paper was approved by the Congress of Colombia. Colombian women organisations including the local partners of this NAP project have jointly prepared gender based proposals for this agenda (Summit Women and Peace in Colombia, 2013) and participated in the peace talks (Gender Sub-Commission) to ensure a sound gender perspective in the final peace agreement.

Under an International perspective, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) urges the enhancement of women participation and representation in conflict prevention, management and resolution. It promises to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations and to ensure the protection and respect of the human rights of women and girls, in particular against rape and other forms of sexual abuse in armed conflict contexts.

Also, The Government of the Kingdom of The Netherlands has promoted for several years the implementation of a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan. The Dutch Government has formed a platform for cooperation with over 50 Dutch civil society organisations and knowledge institutions, with the joint overall objective of contributing to an enabling environment for women participation and empowerment in conflict and post-conflict environments, so they can meaningfully participate in conflict prevention, resolution, peace building, protection, relief and recovery .

ICCO Cooperation, as one of the platform members, has participated in the previous process (2013-2016) that took place in Colombia, jointly with Cordaid and local partner organisations Mencoldes, PCS, Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres, Red Nacional de Mujeres. These experiences have helped ICCO to understand the importance of creating strategic local cooperation beyond merely distributing funds amongst the different organisations in Colombia. As a result, ICCO has developed programmes aimed at strengthening women and their organisations capacities to have meaningful participation and to advocate for women rights.

These experiences taken together have helped to understand the importance of creating a strategic collaboration beyond just funds distribution amongst the different organisations. In this regard, ICCO expertise in designing, delivering and monitoring joint programmes with CSOs, Dutch NGOs, local/national governments and other stakeholders and the possibility to continue some of the processes that were realized under NAP II, will be a key factor to increase the impact of NAP III in Colombia.

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