Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8, WILPF will be publishing a series of articles spotlighting some of the efforts of our member groups to create a more sustainable, peaceful future for women around the world. Follow these publications and support International Women’s Day by sharing with the hashtag #IWD2018.

©WILPF Colombia

In early February 2018, representatives from close to 29 women’s initiatives congregated in the Virgilio Barco library in Bogota, Colombia, to voice their concerns about the precariousness of women’s safety in the country.

Representing WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL Colombia), Diana Salcedo, deputy director of the section, argued that Colombia’s antiquated culture of militarism is still very much present in many areas of the country. Following the event, Salcedo authored an article published by Colombian news source El Espectador (Columna LIMPAL English), in which she discussed the lingering commitment to armed forces growth at the community level. This, she says, threatens women’s security and contributes to the proliferation of small arms amongst civilians.

©WILPF Colombia

What is important for women and Colombia, Salcedo says, is assured individual safety, protection of the environment, employment opportunities, sustainable growth of cities, effective service from public institutions, and the right to a life free from violence against women.

The only way to guarantee these criteria, and in fact the fastest and most effective way agreed the speakers, is to appoint women representatives in official security strategizing processes. As International Women’s Day approaches, WILPF would like to take the moment to express our thanks to and support for the inspiring people and organisations working towards gender equality in decision making processes in Colombia.

During the forum, entitled “Women on Security: Proposals for a Country in Transition,” WILPF Colombia and the other participants explored how inclusion of diverse voices in the defence sector endorses security through peace as opposed to armament.

Click here for the WILPF Colombia webinar: “Las Mujeres en la Implementación del Acuerdo de Paz de Colombia,” (in Spanish). Photo courtesy of Juan Cristobal Zulueta

Previously, WILPF Colombia had explored how this imperative affects Colombia, and how this paradigm is applicable to defence programmes in all countries, in a webinar entitled “Women in the Implementation of the Peace Agreement of Colombia,” broadcasted in Spanish.

Colombia is recognised for its June 2017 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that devoted significant attention to women’s rights and the gender perspective. Colombia has also ratified several international treaties that include the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. However, the following peacemaking processes must improve the rate of female representatives. This was the primary objective of WILPF Colombia in the Women on Security forum.

WILPF Colombia’s awareness-raising efforts are imperative to establishing equality in their country, and their commitment to the inclusion of women’s voices in influential positions is essential to Colombia’s fulfilment of the WPS agenda. Please read and share Salcedo’s article to learn more about women’s rights and the proliferation of small arms in Colombia.

As Salcedo says in her article, “At the end of the day, our common goal is to build a sustainable and long-lasting peace for women, who are repairing the broken pieces of a war that was not theirs.”