Solutions to Violent Conflict

Inclusive Pathways to Equal Peace: Systematic Methodology for Monitoring Gender Stipulations in the Colombian Final Agreement

In Colombia, Women on December 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

Louise Olsson and Madhav Joshi

To determine the quality of peace, it is important to evaluate if men and women experience the same peace process differently. As recently stated by the UN Secretary General, the systematic monitoring of peace agreement implementation is fundamental to the strength and durability of peace. We argue that this means collecting high-quality gender disaggregated data, and utilizing an inclusive methodology that seriously engages both women and men.[1]

Inclusivity and systematic monitoring are at the core of the Kroc Institute’s Peace Accords Matrix Barometer Initiative in Colombia. The Barometer methodology applied to the Colombian Peace Accord implementation process represents the first real-time monitoring of a comprehensive peace agreement.

A key element of the Barometer methodology is engaging key stakeholders in the Colombian peace process who are promoting women’s rights and gender representation and participation. A total of 20 organizations in Colombia were consulted or involved in developing the methodology for assessing the implementation of gender-related provisions. The figure below provides an overview of the policy objectives of these organizations and confirms that women’s organizations often focus on more than one area of interest. The methodology for assessing gender implementation was shared and compared with other monitoring initiatives in Colombia. Most notably, discussions were held with UN Women, FARC, the Government of Colombia, and civil society organizations working on Women, Peace, and Security. This inclusive process is crucial to the ability to collect data in a transparent manner, track implementation accurately, and draw correct lessons from Colombia’s efforts.

womens gender graphic

In many respects, the Colombian Final Agreement stands as a model of gender sensitivity – 130 out of 578 stipulations in the accord explicitly state the need to consider aspects of women’s contexts, security, and inclusion. Our study’s findings indicate that implementation of these provisions is lagging behind that of the accord as a whole.

For the peace accord as a whole as of July 2018, 66 percent of all stipulations reached some level of implementation, ranging from initial to full implementation. Nearly half of all stipulations are in either the intermediate or full implementation category. By comparison, only 11 percent of the 130 gender stipulations are in the intermediate or full implementation category. Moreover, the implementation of half of the gender stipulations has yet to be initiated. The statistical analysis indicates that for the first 18 months of the Colombia peace process, gender stipulations have a lower probability of being initiated, and if they are initiated, are less likely to reach the level of full implementation when compared to all other stipulations that are not related to gender.

The recently released Barometer Initiative report on gender implementation of the Colombian accord highlights the need for more research in order to understand this potentially lower level of success. The report indicates areas where explanations could be found. First, peace agreement implementation is a demanding process in terms of resources and capacity. It involves translating peace agreement stipulations into laws and programs at the national level that are then implemented at the community level. Implementing gender-focused stipulations is a new and challenging responsibility for government bureaucracies at the local level that often have low levels of capacity. This suggests the need for capacity building and technical support designed to improve implementation in general and address gender stipulations in particular.

Second, it is possible that the implementation gap in gender stipulations could be a matter of sequencing as only a limited number of stipulations can be prioritized at a time. A majority of the stipulations that are progressing in implementation do not have a gender component.

The role of power and hierarchies is the third possible explanation. The process of peace agreement implementation dynamically mobilizes social, economic, and political actors at the national, regional, and community levels. Women’s organizations and actors pushing for gender equality often start from a weaker power base. As a result, they are sometimes less successful in building a coalition in support of implementation. Political resistance to gender perspectives was evident in 2016 leading up to the referendum on the peace accord and it persists today.

In conclusion, we believe that the Barometer Initiative’s inclusive and systematic methodology for assessing the implementation of gender provisions demonstrates the viability of collaborative ways forward for research and policy in order to achieve quality peace for both men and women.


[1] See also Louise Olsson and Theodora-Ismene Gizelis’s chapter in the forthcoming The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace, and Security (Eds. Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True) for further discussions.

Madhav Joshi is Research Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Associate Director of the Peace Accords Matrix. 

Louise Olsson is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).