After more than half a century of civil conflict, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym, FARC) will conclude its historic peace negotiations by signing a final peace accord by the end of March.
On his visit to the Philippines, courtesy of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Special Envoy to the Colombian Government – FARC peace process, Dag Nylander, shared his experiences in a workshop with civil society organizations to spark ideas and ways forward to the Philippines' own peace negotiations.
Nylander credits the success of the peace talks to several factors:
- Evident political will between the Colombian government and FARC.
- A constantly engaged civil society.
- Strong interest and support from the international community especially from other Latin American countries.
- Involvement of victims' groups.
- Inputs from women's organizations and/or gender-related organizations.
When asked about the role of women in the ongoing peace process, he says that the active women's movement in Colombia, with at least 16 national women’s networks, along with pressure from the international community has helped in urging the two parties to include a gender component in the negotiations.
In Colombia, an estimated three million women are and have been displaced because of its decades-long civil war, leaving them susceptible to other human rights abuses such as domestic violence, slavery, and rape.
And FARC, with 40 percent of its combatants women, is also not impervious from these injustices. Women who have left the group say they have experienced sexual assault, forced sterilizations, and abortions, not just from fellow FARC members but from rival armed groups as well.
To address the absence of women in the peace talks, Nylander cites the UN Women led National Summit of Women and Peace, where different gender-related organizations from different countries - Association of Peasant, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Women (ANMUCIC), National Network of Women Ex-Combatants, Red Mariposas and Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres (Women's Route to Peace), among others - came together to form recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process.
The summit led the Colombian government and FARC to publicly recognize the “important role of women in conflict-prevention, conflict-resolution and peacebuilding.” Shortly after, the gender sub-commission was created, with each party having five representatives, solely focused on addressing gender issues in the negotiations.
Nylander also points out that both parties have agreed not to grant impunity for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence, in post-conflict special tribunals.
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Special thanks to the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325) for extending the invite to be part of this workshop.