Rebecca Gindele and Carolina Serrano
The inclusion of a gender perspective and specific gender-related commitments in the text of the Colombian Peace Accord is an important step toward strengthening women’s meaningful participation in the building of peace. The Accord text includes a record number of commitments relating to women’s participation and the advancement of women’s rights. These gender provisions commit the Government of Colombia, FARC, and all relevant actors involved in the implementation of the Accord to ensure that the process includes a focus on women’s rights and women’s participation. These commitments seek to achieve equality of rights between men and women and guarantee affirmative measures to promote equal and active participation of women in the implementation of the accord.
The Colombian agreement stipulates the creation of specific mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of these gender-based commitments. Two examples of such mechanisms are the Special Forum for the Implementation of the Gender-Based Approach and the International Accompaniment Component. The Special Forum has the explicit mission of monitoring the implementation of the transversal gender approach and guaranteeing the rights of women throughout the implementation process. It consists of eight women that represent Colombian women’s organizations from both the national and territorial levels. Among them are black and indigenous women, women victims, and women nominated by LGBTI organizations. As for the International Accompaniment, the government and the FARC-EP agreed on a group of countries and organizations to support the implementation of several items in the Accord, including the gender-based approach. The selected members include the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), UN Women, the embassy of Sweden in Colombia, and the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The support of the International Accompaniment Component has helped to advance the implementation of several gender stipulations.
Several other important mechanisms have been developed for responding to gender implementation dynamics. A working group has been created to ensure that gender perspectives are included in the process of reincorporation of former combatants. This working group includes representatives from both the FARC and the Government of Colombia. In addition, legislation recently adopted by the Colombian Congress created the Intersectoral Commission, also known as the Government’s High-Level Forum for Gender. This Forum is charged with coordinating and monitoring gender sensitivity in the work of government institutions responsible for implementation of the accord.
The participation of women’s civil society organizations is key to implementation success. Colombian women were active throughout the armed conflict demanding understanding of and effective solutions to the disproportional impact the conflict had on their rights and their bodies. Women’s organizations were instrumental in arguing for the inclusion of a gender perspective at the negotiation table, and they are now actively participating in supporting the peace process and monitoring its implementation. One example of this is the non-governmental Gender Working Group Género en la Paz (GPAZ). This group is made up of feminist activists, academics, victims, and human rights defenders who provide oversight of gender implementation. GPAZ produces reports and currently monitors the implementation of 122 provisions they have identified in the text of the Accord.
As the peace process progresses in Colombia, the meaningful participation of women will be key to bringing about positive change toward greater gender equity—not just through their presence, but by taking into account and materializing their specific opinions and rights within the process. The active participation of women, including black, indigenous, and rural women, offers the opportunity for the peace agreement to be a means of achieving gender equality, thereby addressing structural inequalities and working toward a sustainable peace in Colombia.
 Decree 1418 of 2018, “Por el cual se crea la Comisión Intersectorial para la incorporación del enfoque de género en la implementación del Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera, la cual se denominará Alta Instancia de Genero de Gobierno,” August 3, 2018, http://es.presidencia.gov.co/normativa/normativa/DECRETO%201418%20DEL%2003%20DE%20AGOSTO%20DE%202018.pdf.
 Gender Working Group Género en la Paz (GPAZ), “Informe GPAZ: Observaciones sobre la Incorporación del enfoque de género en el Acuerdo de Paz,” (Bogotá, October 2018), https://www.sismamujer.org/informe-gpaz-observaciones-sobre-la-incorporacion-del-enfoque-de-genero-en-los-acuerdos-de-paz-octubre-de-2018/.
Rebecca Gindele is a Barometer Mobile Team Specialist working in Bogota, Colombia.
Carolina Serrano is a Research Associate with the Peace Accords Matrix Barometer Project at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.