On 10 March 2016, Geneva Call and the National University of Colombia’s Observatory for Peace and Conflict co-organized an event entitled “Gender and Peace Processes: challenges and recommendations for participation and a return to civilian life.”
The coming weeks will be decisive for the Colombian peace processes. It is, therefore, the right time to bring recommendations on gender issues to the peace talks, particularly on the reintegration of female combatants into civilian life. It is also important to insist on the start of a formal dialogue between the national government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) and to include women in the negotiations from the outset.
Around 30 participants—representatives of community-based organizations, academia, international NGOs and diplomats—discussed and formulated recommendations that will be shared with the Colombian government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the ELN.
Among other recommendations, the participants highlighted the following points:
- Meetings in the regions between female fighters and female representatives of civil society should be facilitated and encouraged in order to build peace in the field.
- The peace strategy implemented should prevent stigmatization and contribute to the safety of female combatants returning to civilian life.
- Female combatants’ alternative knowledge and experiences of leadership should be recognized in order to aid their reintegration into economic, political and social life, without confining them to their traditional, socially expected gender roles.
- Regional authorities should prepare for the implementation of the peace agreement and make the necessary transformations to facilitate the return of women to civilian life.
- Women should be a part of the plenipotentiary negotiation teams of both the Colombian government and the ELN from the beginning, and a gender perspective must be included.
In a video message sent to the event, the FARC-EP delegation declared that “we consider it is urgent that women participate effectively in all the decision-making, implementation, initiation and monitoring of the transformations that our country is awaiting.”
The ELN made a call to “all women to organize themselves and join these peace talks to build a country where women are able to live a dignified life free from gender-based violence.”