Indigenous women and Colombia’s peace process

Salamanca, R. E., Ramirez, L. Cárdenas, M., Yousuf, Z. and Close, S. (June 2017)

Citation: 

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Key points:

• Colombia’s Final Peace Agreement sets 
an international standard for the inclusion 
of indigenous women in peace processes: women’s and indigenous women’s organisations effectively lobbied to ensure their meaningful participation, and the Final Peace Agreement includes gender responsive provisions and an Ethnic Chapter.

• Yet particular groups in Colombia such as indigenous women face multiple barriers to political participation, including in the peace process, driven by formal as well as customary systems.

• While international human rights frameworks have helped secure legal and political recognition of rights allowing indigenous peoples, especially women, to make demands on the state, high levels of impunity for violations and lack of implementation of policies and legislation create the risk that legal mechanisms do not lead to practical change.

Policy points:

• To date, formal commitments and policy responses have been unable to incorporate both collective indigenous and individual women’s rights. Multiple strategies, including by indigenous peoples and women’s rights activists, are required to transform both customary structures and the formal political settlement.

• Donors and the Colombian government must also find ways to reach beyond male-dominated indigenous structures to engage with indigenous women on issues such as political representation, sexual and reproductive rights and economic security.

• The Colombian experience emphasises the importance of creating inclusive coalitions and platforms for dialogue for diverse groups of women to meaningfully participate at all levels of the peace process. Indigenous women have built coalitions with other women’s networks, such as peasant and Afro-Colombian women, and also developed their own spaces.

Abstract: The report explores the historic experience of indigenous women in Colombia – a group usually absent from political decision-making processes – and how formal and customary institutions impact their inclusion in Colombia’s political settlement. It charts the emergence of different pathways for change for indigenous women, including the evolution of women’s engagement in the Colombian peace process as well as the inclusion of gender and ethnic minority issues in negotiations. It further explores how the peace process is an opportunity for indigenous women to play a key role in peacebuilding and the reconfiguration of the political settlement in Colombia.

Keywords: Colombia, Peace Processes, Gender

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