Towards Implementation of Women’s Rights in the Colombian Final Peace Accord: Progress, opportunities and challenges

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Special report on the monitoring of the gender commitments

Executive summary

2020 marks the fourth year of implementation of the Colombian Final Accord, the 20th anniversary of the signing of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action. This report considers the gender commitments located in the text of the Final Accord as identified by the Kroc Institute, their implementation progress, opportunities and challenges. The report reflects upon the additional challenges in the face of the global pandemic and five priority areas: territorial transformation, political participation, security and protection guarantees, reincorporation, and victims’ rights.

Comprehensive Rural Reform and territorial transformation for gender equality

The Final Accord includes commitments with the potential for structural change to reduce gender inequalities and make progress in women’s rights in the Colombian countryside. The design of various programs has included the specific needs of women and their rights and demonstrated gender sensitivity in the implementing agencies. One example highlighted is the progress of the Ministry of Justice in achieving access to justice and land for rural women through alternative conflict resolution mechanisms. However, there are substantial delays in the implementation of key programs and plans for comprehensive rural reform that may cause negative cascading effects in the future, for example in the 16 National Plans for Comprehensive Rural Reform contemplated in the Final Accord. There are also concerns about the continued inclusion of a gender approach and meaningful participation of women in the Roadmaps (in Spanish, hojas de ruta) for the Development Programs with a Territorial Focus (PDET). In regard to the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Crops Used for Illicit Purposes (PNIS), female leadership has been an important factor for the program. Nonetheless, delays in the community phase of the program has particularly affected commitments related to childcare and the health system, amongst others.

Women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of the Peace Accord

There has been progress in certain targeted programs of the Accord for women’s political participation. There are examples of advances in individual programs of capacity building in democratic values for women, and also the inclusion of participatory mechanisms through publicly owned mass media and citizen oversight. However in the past year, there has been limited progress in achieving equal representation of women in mechanisms created by the Accord, and there are also several normative reforms still pending, which is crucial for advancing in the implementation of point 2. These delays have a disproportionate impact on the implementation of measures to support the participation and leadership of women. The recommendations from the Special Electoral Mission included measures to promote the rights of women in the electoral system, such as increasing the gender quota through the adoption of closed lists at different levels.1 These recommendations should be a priority, as well as strengthening the democratic planning system by guaranteeing women’s participation and gender sensitive budgeting.

Security and protection guarantees with a gender approach

During the fourth year of implementation, attacks against women leaders and human rights defenders, especially Afro-colombian, indigenous, and rural communities, continue. The Final Accord contemplates comprehensive security guarantees and protection measures, but greater coordination at the local level is necessary. In February 2020, the National Action Plan 2019-2022 for the comprehensive program of guarantees for women leaders and human rights defenders was launched. The Montes de María Working Group has demonstrated how this plan may be used by community leaders and human rights defenders to press for more gender-sensitive policies at the local and regional level. However, the monitoring bodies for the security guarantees at the territorial level have yet to be fully implemented. In order to continue advancing it will be necessary to secure funding for the program and transfer ownership to the institutions in the regions. Finally, the importance of accelerating in the design and implementation of the policy for the dismantling of criminal organizations is highlighted.

Reincorporation within the framework of women’s rights

The National Council for Reincorporation’s (CNR) Gender Working Group has continued to be an effective space for dialogue during implementation. Antioquia demonstrates the importance of regional political leadership in support of peace agreement implementation. The inclusion of specific gender measures in the CONPES 3931 of 2018 provides a clear roadmap for the continued integration of a gender perspective in the reincorporation program. However, the primary challenge resides in guaranteeing sufficient budgetary support and linking national and local entities to the implementation of the actions to ensure a territorial approach to implementation.

Victims’ rights

The entities comprising the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation and NonRecurrence (SIVJRNR) have made considerable efforts to promote participation of civil society, particularly women, the LGBTQ population, and ethnic peoples. All three entities have put in place processes to ensure that the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict on women is recognized, specifically through the investigation and clarification of sexual violence. The Information Analysis Group (GRAI), part of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), highlights that 42% of the 235 reports received and reviewed by January 30, 2020, reported sexual violence as the primary crime. The CEV has continued to receive reports presented by women’s and LGBTI organizations detailing cases of sexual violence, including Afro-colombian and indigenous women. The SIVJRNR’s participatory process has generated legitimacy and hope by showing early stage results. At this point, victims are expecting results that reflect the trust and participation invested thus far. There are concerns though that there will not be a separate macro case in the JEP nor a specific chapter in the Truth Commission’s final report to highlight violence against women and the LGBTI community. These are opportunities to end the historic impunity for conflict-related sexual violence.

Concluding remarks

The monthly monitoring of the 130 gender commitments shows that the gap between their implementation and general provisions has reduced over the past year and, as of July 2020, is 11%. This reduction is due mainly to several commitments in Point 1 initiating with the creation of plans or programs with a gender approach, and in the improvements in genderdifferentiated data of rural development program beneficiaries. This is significant and shows that concerted efforts around key programs with a gender approach make a difference. However, these initial headways are still at a central level and have yet to be felt on the ground.

As the Accord is now at the phase of regional implementation, further decentralization of the gender commitments is required to make progress. To do this it is important to build on local, national, and international best practices to accelerate implementation. A bottom-up process allied with civil society opens up more participatory spaces, and in the long-term, contributes to transformative changes. The report highlights that women are key allies in the implementation process and their meaningful participation is at the center of achieving transformative change for communities and regions most affected by the conflict.