Peace Talks in Colombia Sideline Women

Colombia's government has failed to bring in women to the forthcoming peace negotiations despite substantial advocacy from women's organizations around the country. In a recent open letter to the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the 1325 Working Group (which includes: Red Nacional de Mujeres, Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la paz, Corporación de Investigación y Social y Económica (CIASE), WILPF Colombia / LIMPAL Colombia, Afrolider and DeJusticia, which is also a member of the group but did not sign the letter) publicly called for women's inclusion and consideration of women's concerns in the peace talks. The fact that women have now been completely sidelined from the official peace table is not only a major disappointment, but also indicative of Colombia's inability to meet their international commitments to include women as specified by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325).

The organizations in the 1325 Working Group are all committed to increasing the recognition of women's rights and experiences in the context of the conflict, although their focuses and contributions differ. For example, Red Nacional de Mujeres is also running a campaign to end violence against women and girls by urging men to be agents of change; Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la paz is fighting for the release of people held in captivity by the FARC; Corporación de Investigacón y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE) is promoting human rights with special attention to economic, social and cultural rights; and LIMPAL Colombia is empowering women who have suffered displacement politically, socially and economically to become leaders in their communities. The 1325 Working Group also works in cooperation with international women's organizations and holds work-shops around the country which seek to localize UNSCR 1325 and 1820. A series of workshops, conducted in September, brought local women's groups and leaders together to promote legislation and funding to advance the implementation of the resolutions in local development plans.

Like so many other regions around the world that experience conflict women are at the heart of every conflict resolution and reconciliation process. Their skills, experience and perspectives are a vital ingredient to achieving sustainable peace, and their inclusion is mandated by UNSCR 1325. It is therefore a grave disappointment that the Columbian government has thus far marginalized women and their interests in the peace negotiations.

These organizations are a powerful voice for peace and women's rights in Colombia and we fully support their work.