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Second Round: New Peace Agreement Between Colombia's Government And The FARC

24 November 2016

 

Today Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will sign a new peace agreement. The new agreement is a revised version of the peace agreement that was signed on 26 September, which was then rejected by a small margin on 2 October in a referendum by the Colombian people.

The ‘No’-vote leaders felt that there had been too many concessions to the FARC, with the perception that their crimes would go unpunished. The yes-no referendum campaign also became a political power play between two men: Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia on the ‘Yes’ side, and the former president Álvaro Uribe on the ‘No’ side.

A new actor came to power in this game, one of the driving forces behind the ‘No’ side: the conservative religious and evangelical leaders. From the start they have been against the inclusive language on gender perspectives that the women’s movement and the LGBTI community, among others, have been working hard to make sure was included in the agreement. This was countered by a so-called “gender ideology” campaign, which took place in order to confuse people on what a gender perspective really is, and to influence them to vote No.

Since the ‘No side’ won the referendum, the FARC and the government have revised the peace agreement keeping the ‘No’ side’s demands in mind. On 22 November the two parties announced that, after being signed, the new peace agreement will be submitted to Congress for approval rather than put to another referendum.

The role of WILPF Colombia in the peace process

finalllogo_limpalWILPF Colombia (Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad, LIMPAL) has supported the peace process from the start and has actively worked together with the women’s rights movement to ensure that women have been able to influence the process and to make sure that a gender perspective, including women’s rights, is included in the agreement itself, following UNSCR 1325. Katherine Ronderos, President of WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL), recently participated in a special delegation in Havana to meet with FARC representatives to provide analysis and recommendations on the importance of maintaining women’s rights and a gender perspective in the peace agreement.

Despite the changes that have been made in the revised text, WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL) and the women’s movement are supporting the new peace agreement. Katherine Ronderos explains that “women’s organisations and the LGBTI movement have not publicly shared any serious concerns about the changing of the language. It has been a difficult negotiation and we recognised that women’s rights and the gender perspective continue to be present in the new text of the agreement, which are already part of our constitution and legislation. Our country is not ready for a progressive agreement. It seems that we are in a conservative party living in the middle age. Of course some things have changed, in particular with the visibility of LGBTI community and their entitlement to have rights as victims of the conflict, but our main recommendations for women victims of the armed conflict are still reflected in the agreement.”

Katherine also points out that “the ones that are protesting right now are the leaders of the ‘No’ side, since they’re unhappy because their demands have not been fully incorporated in the new text. So they are the ones complaining about the new peace agreement, not us, the women’s movement.”

Everyone on the ‘Yes’ side is currently trying to make as little noise as possible about the new agreement, hoping that it will go through at it is now. “Right now we are in a very fragile political moment and we really want the agreement to pass,” explains WILPF Colombia’s President, “we need to take this opportunity for peace seriously. The ‘No’ side is against the new text and they are making a lot of noise. And anything making noise around the agreement at this moment is detrimental to the whole process. We are therefore calling everybody that is in support of the agreement to go ahead, even if you don’t agree with the text 100%.”

The road to peace has been a long one for the Colombian people. The country is ready for peace and the next step in that direction is for the new peace agreement to pass. “The agreement is not perfect, we knew that from day one. It is not an agreement that will make deep transformations on gender equality, but it is a good start. We call on the international community at this moment to support the agreement as it is. A gender perspective is included but in a different way than it was before. However, it is still there and that is what we need to go for right now.”

Learn more about WILPF Colombia.

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Revisit our webinar pacifist feminism: The case of Colombia

In the midst of the Colombian conflict negotiation process, the role of women in civil society has been fundamental, not only in demanding the participation of women on both sides of the table but also in the inclusion of proposals from women in the same agreements.

On 10 June 2016, WILPF held a webinar on the gains made by women in the negotiating process and, at the same time, creating a space for reflections on what the peace process brings to Colombia and the rest of the Latin American region, and even more importantly to the work of women and WILPF in general.

Watch now the webinar Pacifist Feminism: The Case of Colombia (in Spanish).

 

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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