Here’s How Attention to Gender Affected Colombia’s Peace Process

   •    October 10, 2016

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This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

Washington Post logoOn Friday, October 7, 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to negotiate and sign peace accords with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas, after 52 years of violent conflict. The award came just five days after Colombians rejected the deal in a national plebiscite, albeit by a very narrow margin, leaving the peace process in limbo.

Law professor Fionnuala ni Aolain’s work on gender and political settlements finds that when peace processes simply “add women and stir,” meaningful gains may be few. After a peace agreement, promises to take women’s concerns seriously often remain just that: promises, unfunded and ignored.

Could that be happening in Colombia now, post-plebiscite? Over the past few days, Uribe has been meeting with Santos. In the ongoing coverage of these talks, there has yet been no mention of bringing in the civil society groups that helped keep gender concerns part of the formal peace process.

Research by the Institute for Inclusive Security highlights seven “myths standing in the way of women waging peace.” These myths include the idea that “women’s issues can wait until later,” after the urgency of halting war has passed. Another is the idea that “women’s issues are discrete, separable topics” that can be added or dropped without broader consequences. That may limit the creation of an inclusive peace.

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