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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

Peace and gender (in)equality: lessons from the Colombian Peace Agreement of 2016

This research, supported by the Atlantic Equity Challenge (AEQ), examines the special provisions for gender equality in the Colombian Peace Agreement of 2016. It assesses the effectiveness of their implementation as perceived by the target communities, with the aim of envisioning measures for more effective delivery, and also drawing lessons from the Colombian model for other conflict settings.

The Colombian Peace Accord, which ended over 50 years of armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the state, marked a watershed moment in the history of peace agreements, as for the first time it aimed to redress the disparate impact of armed conflict on women and LGBTQ+ people. 130 out of its 578 stipulations had a gender focus, covering five areas:

  1. comprehensive rural reform for gender equality
  2. participation of women/LGBTQ+ in the peace implementation
  3. gender-specific guarantees for security
  4. gender-sensitive reincorporation of ex-combatants; and 5) promotion of victims’ rights.

However, implementation of these provisions has been slow-moving and uneven, and the experiences of the target communities in this process have often been overlooked. This research, therefore, aims to develop a model for a more effective implementation by bringing into focus the voices of the target communities, especially indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, female ex-combatants and LGBTQ+ – the four priority groups of this research. Their perceptions and responses to the implementation of gender commitments and their visions of how to make it more effective are at the centre of the project. This roadmap, emerging from the margins, will guide the project’s engagement with other stakeholders, including NGOs, policymakers and international organisations.

To develop an in-depth analysis of the implementation of the Peace Agreement’s gender commitments, the project will focus on two of its five provisions, namely: comprehensive rural reform for gender equality and gender-sensitive reincorporation of ex-combatants. Both provisions are crucial for the overall success of the implementation process in Colombia, and have been critically understudied in the context of peacebuilding. Gender equality is contingent on comprehensive rural reform in large swathes of the country where women’s limited rights over land and other economic resources perpetuate gender-based inequality. Therefore, the Peace Accord’s commitment to rural transformation will only succeed if gender-based inequalities in the Colombian countryside are reduced and women’s rights are promoted. Reincorporation of female ex-combatants is another neglected area in peace studies, owing to the prevailing assumption that only men are the combatants. As 2,267 out of nearly 12,000 FARC combatants demobilised in 2016 were women, this project aims to provide an invaluable case study in challenging such assumptions.

Banner Image: Photo by Flavia Carpio on Unsplash


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