Category: 16 Days of Activism

Category: 16 Days of Activism

From strong institutions to inclusive peace: Gendering the conversation about corruption, human rights, and peace and security

December 10, 2020 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

“The most important characteristic of a peaceful society is a set of institutions that enable its members to live together in peace. This entails an absence of high levels of corruption and the existence of the rule of law. Strong institutions promote the peaceful co-existence of individuals and groups with differing interests and values and are a necessary condition for human flourishing.”

This is how one of the participants of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) research on local women and civil society’s perspectives on sustaining peace defined a peaceful society. The research reached over 1,600 women and men in 50 countries. When asked what peace means to them, the largest number – 40% of all respondents – indicated good governance and strong institutions. In line with this, corruption – within governments, civil society, and even donor institutions – was listed as one of the persistent challenges to sustainable and inclusive peace. 10% of all respondents believed that corruption is the biggest obstacle to peace. Respondents pointed out that corruption prevents grassroots peacebuilders from accessing funding to support their work, breeds distrust between citizens and their government, fuels economic inequality, and aggravates grievances. All of these factors are also the root causes of conflict and violence.

Corruption is a security concern

The findings of our research have added to the growing literature and policy discussions on the impacts of corruption on peace and security. A 2015 study by the Institute for Economics & Peace revealed that “corruption has a major influence over decreased levels of peace, including violent crime and the homicide rate.” In a similar vein, an analysis by Transparency International showed that “11 of the 20 most corrupt countries have been affected by violent conflict, often lasting many years.” As noted above, corruption aggravates the root causes of conflict. At the same time, armed conflict creates a fertile ground for corruption – as the influx of outside funds in post-conflict countries provides incentives for officials to make corrupt deals for personal gain.

The interlinkages between corruption and peace have also been recognized in global policy discussions. Recognizing the link between corruption and peace and security, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a briefing on corruption and conflict in September 2018. The UNSC has also addressed corruption in country-specific discussions and briefings. Misappropriation of financial resources is one of the criteria for sanctions in the cases of Somalia and Libya. Corruption has also been tackled in discussions around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). While preventing and combatting corruption is not a stand-alone SDG, tackling corruption, bribery, and money laundering, as well as recovering stolen assets, are specific targets under SDG 16 on Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

Where are the women? Bringing a gender lens to policy discussions on corruption

Despite the strong linkages between corruption and peace, most research, analysis, and policy discussions on corruption remain gender-blind and leaves the myriad of ways in which corruption affects women and men in conflict-affected situations unexplored. There is evidence that women and men are affected differently by corruption: corruption affects women’s access to literacy education, as well as their access to health, including maternal health, education, and economic opportunities. Still, analyses of the gendered impacts of corruption is not systematic in the literature on the issue, or in the policy discussions and recommendations related to corruption.

To address this gap, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Directorate of International Law of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, conducted research which applied a gender lens and conflict lens to the impact of corruption on peace and security, and on human rights. We used in-depth analysis of existing literature, policy documents, and ongoing global policy debates on corruption to map out existing trends and identify some good practices. Additionally, we conducted key informant interviews and focus group discussions in Nepal and Nigeria. Using the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda as a framework, the research highlights the interlinkages between corruption’s impact on human rights, peace, and gender equality, including women’s effective participation. The findings of the research are detailed in a policy brief and two in-depth case studies from Nepal and Nigeria. While not surprising, they serve as a critical wake-up call.

We found that corruption affects the implementation of all four pillars of WPS, and thus is a threat to both human rights, and to sustainable and gender-equal peace:

1. Corruption’s well-documented negative impact on human rights and women’s rights undermines the implementation of the Protection pillar of the WPS agenda. In North-East Nigeria, wide-spread corruption in internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps has increased the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and contributed to impunity for SGBV perpetrated by armed actors. Research respondents noted that corruption facilitates the spread of forced prostitution and human trafficking, as corrupt officials allow influential persons to “take girls outside the camp in the pretext of giving them better education but most often exploiting them either as sex workers or house helps, sometimes trafficking them to other states or communities.” Respondents also noted that there have been cases of police officers demanding payment from SGBV victims before filing their reports.

2. Corruption is a security concern, and a key factor undermining the implementation of the WPS Prevention pillar, as it can trigger conflict and aggravate existing insecurities, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) has noted the link between corruption and women’s personal security. For example, in its Concluding Observations to Ukraine from 2017, the Committee notes that the continued hostility and impunity for violations especially in Eastern Ukraine “along with pervasive corruption, has contributed to an increase in the level of violence against women by State and non-State actors and to the reinforcement of traditional and patriarchal attitudes that limit women’s and girls’ enjoyment of their rights”. However, corruption is also a threat to international peace and security. The UNDP report “Journey to Extremism in Africa” shows that the groups most susceptible to recruitment are characterized by significantly limited confidence in government and a sense of grievance towards the State. The belief that the government only looks after the interests of a few, the level of trust in authorities, and the willingness to report experiences of bribe paying were all key indicators in analyzing the susceptibility of young people to voluntarily joining a violent extremist group.

3. Corruption restricts women’s ability to meaningfully participate in decision-making, thus undermining the WPS agenda’s Participation pillar. A number of countries have noted in their State Party reports to the CEDAW Committee that corruption has an adverse effect on women’s political participation. For example, the 2004 Guatemala State Party report states that “women have no faith in the political process and believe that they have been deceived and exploited by male politicians. The 2009 State Party report of Papua New Guinea and the 2010 State Party report of Kenya also points to corruption as a major barrier to women’s political participation. The Papua New Guinea report notes that the prevalence of corruption increases the cost of running for office, thus making it impossible for women to stand as candidates.

4. Corruption has a documented negative impact on women’s access to justice, which undermines the post-conflict transition to a peaceful society and the implementation of the WPS Relief and Recovery pillar. In Nepal, research respondents noted that the police and judiciary officials are often hostile or disrespectful towards women, and there is a lack of understanding and appropriate guidelines on how violations of women’s human rights, including SGBV, are to be addressed. The lack of effective transparency and accountability mechanisms perpetuates such gender inequalities, as there are no checks and balances that would prevent security and justice officials from bringing their own biases into the system. Respondents also stated that widespread corruption at police and courts prevents speedy case clearance. As one respondent stated, “If there is ‘khuwai piyai’ (term used to indicate bribes provided – in cash or in kind – to obtain favors) then work moves ahead, otherwise it does not.” As a result, it could take up to 5-6 years for a case of SGBV to be considered in court. This effectively prevents women from accessing justice, as they do not have the resources to pay the bribes or to cover the legal fees during such a lengthy period.

Corruption is therefore not only a security concern – it is a WPS concern. Yet, it remains largely absent from discussions on conflict prevention and peace and security, including in the framework of WPS. Our call is clear: conflict-sensitive gender analysis must be a part of all discussions, policies, and actions to curtail corruption. Likewise, the issue of corruption should be acknowledged and discussed in policy fora dedicated to gender equality and sustainable peace – be it within the UN Security Council, the CEDAW Committee, or in national parliaments.

Five Years of Progress: Young Women Reflect on the Achievements of the Youth, Peace & Security Agenda

Happy 5th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250!

Join us by watching: Five Years of Progress: Young Women Reflect on the Achievements of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda

The 5th anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda, following shortly after the 20th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, presents an opportunity for reflection and renewed action in the implementation of the interlinked resolutions. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) hosted a global consultation to create space for young women-led networks and women’s rights organizations to exchange experiences, reflect on their achievements, and identify key opportunities to accelerate the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions. Today, on the anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, we share with you some of their recommendations and reflections.

GNWP Talks Women, Peace and Security: Podcast on Transforming Systems through Anti-Racism and Women’s Rights Advocacy

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), as a feminist peacebuilding organization working to prevent conflict, sustain peace, and advance justice for all women and girls, continues to call for an end to practices and norms that perpetuate systemic racism in the international peace and security sector. In the wake of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, GNWP recognizes that racist violence, in all its forms, is a violation of the human rights of historically marginalized communities. 

A crucial aspect of feminist peace activism is to advocate for the elimination of barriers that hinder the meaningful participation of all women, specifically Black, Indigenous and women of color, who experience disproportionate rates of violence across the world. We must continue to “unpack the embeddedness of racial hierarchies within the practices of the WPS agenda”, to ensure that women, in all their diversity, have access to equal opportunities and outcomes. 

Following GNWP’s statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement and commitment to fighting against systemic racism in the international peace and security sector, we continue to engage in these important conversations. Our latest podcast episode, featuring Esther Atosha, Young Women Leader for Peace from the Democractic Republic of the Congo (DRC), focuses on the intersections between racism and gender inequality. Esther discusses the multiple discriminations that women peacebuilders face in their work, at the local and global levels and calls for the transformation of systems that perpetuate these inequalities. 

Tune in to hear more about Esther’s recommendations on how systemic barriers must be transformed to advance racial and gender equality. 


GNWP parle Femmes, paix et sécurité : Balado sur la transformation des systèmes grâce à la lutte contre le racisme et la défense des droits des femmes

Le Réseau mondial des femmes artisans de la paix (GNWP), en tant qu’organisation féministe de consolidation de la paix œuvrant pour prévenir les conflits, maintenir la paix et faire progresser la justice pour toutes les femmes et les filles, continue d’appeler à la fin des pratiques et des normes qui perpétuent le racisme systémique dans la paix internationale et le secteur de la sécurité. À la suite des 16 jours d’activisme contre la violence basée sur le genre, GNWP reconnaît que la violence raciste, sous toutes ses formes, est une violation des droits de la personne des communautés historiquement marginalisées.

Un aspect crucial de l’activisme féministe pour la paix est de plaider en faveur de l’élimination des obstacles qui entravent la participation significative de toutes les femmes, en particulier les femmes noires, autochtones et de couleur, qui subissent des taux de violence disproportionnés à travers le monde. Nous devons continuer à « déballer l’enracinement des hiérarchies raciales dans les pratiques de l’agenda FPS », pour garantir que les femmes, dans toute leur diversité, aient accès à l’égalité des chances et des résultats.

À la suite de la déclaration de solidarité de GNWP avec le mouvement Black Lives Matter et de son engagement à lutter contre le racisme systémique dans le secteur de la paix et de la sécurité internationales, nous continuons de participer à ces conversations importantes. Notre dernier épisode de balado, mettant en vedette Esther Atosha, jeune leader pour la paix de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), se concentre sur les intersections entre le racisme et l’inégalité du genre. Esther discute des multiples discriminations auxquelles sont confrontées les femmes artisanes de la paix dans leur travail, aux niveaux local et mondial, et appelle à la transformation des systèmes qui perpétuent ces inégalités.

Écoutez pour en savoir plus sur les recommandations d’Esther sur la façon dont les barrières systémiques doivent être transformées pour faire progresser l’égalité raciale et basée sur le genre.

Financing for women’s organizations: The billion dollar question

December 4, 2020 by Jenaina Irani

Between 2017-2019, over $1 billion US dollars was pledged by governments and other donors in support of gender equality commitments. This is more than ever before! However, a closer look at the figures reveals that only 1% of all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) gender equality-focused funding in 2016-17 went directly to women-led organizations. Meanwhile, the proportion of bilateral aid to conflict-affected countries focused on gender equality as the primary objective has remained at only 5% since 2010, and only 0.2% of this goes directly to women’s organizations! To advance gender equality in a way that is meaningful, sustainable and tailored to specific local needs, donors must ensure that their funding is available to women-led organizations, including women peacebuilders. Failing to do so, donors contravene the very principle of inclusion and equality they seek to promote.  

COVID-19 has made the need for more reliable, sustainable and accessible funding for gender equality even more pressing. Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic has exacerbated already dire conditions for women and girls in conflict-affected settings. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) consultations with national and local women peacebuilders in Colombia have shown that women’s rights organizations are facing funding cuts and suspension of contracts, as donor funds are redirected to address the health and humanitarian impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) survey of 78 of its civil society partners found that 29% believed their organization’s existence was at risk due to the pandemic. Despite the fact that women around the world are at the frontlines of addressing COVID-19 impacts in their communities, the funds dedicated to responding to the pandemic often remain unavailable to them. This because most COVID-19 responses are not gender-responsive, and women are excluded from decision-making about them.

Transformative and normative change necessary to challenge gender inequalities requires meaningful participation of women and women-led organizations. A 2014 comparative study between EU found that when members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were receptive to, and actively engaged with feminist groups and civil society organizations (CSO’s), they were successful in enacting structural changes, necessary for transforming unequal gender relations. The authors attribute this to a number of reasons including that the SADC framed gender equality as a goal in and of itself, rather than a means to an end. More so, women peacebuilders from conflict-affected countries contribute to sustaining peace by capacity building and addressing root causes of conflict through community mediation and development work. For example, women’s civil society in Syria contributed to the formation of committees across the country that work on reducing conflicts and building community stability.

They are also effective advocates for normative changes in their countries. The effectiveness of women’s organizations derives from the key role they play in generating awareness among local communities, and challenging gender stereotypes. Researchers analyzed data across 50 African nations between 1989 and 2014 and found that when local women and organizations form coalitions to pressure governments, they adopt gender-sensitive quotas in a comparatively effective and timely manner. The evidence for the cost-effectiveness of investing in women-led and feminist organizations is compelling. If the investment made in gender equality does not benefit local organizations and women peacebuilders, the structural change it sets out to achieve will remain elusive.

Women’s organizations also drive change by organizing and mobilizing into women’s rights and feminist movements-which have been found to be key drivers of change. A study spanning 40 years, across 70 countries found that autonomous feminist movements were the most important consistent factor in driving policy change- more than left-wing leadership, numbers of women legislators, and even national wealth. However, despite the evidence on their effectiveness, women’s movements and coordination mechanisms are notoriously underfunded. GNWP consultations in Uganda and Colombia reveal that funding for coordination and networks-building among women’s organizations, including those working on WPS, remain extremely limited.

None of the advances in women’s rights over the last century could have been possible without the existence of independent, women-led organizations and movements that begun at the grassroots level and applied pressure upward. Grassroots women’s organizations need funding, and they need it to be flexible, responsive, and sustainable in the long term. The benefits of directly funding organizations that work toward gender equality are multi-fold, and provide a clear path to where development assistance and aid should go. There’s your billion dollar answer!

See Us, Hear Us, Join Us! Women Peacebuilders in Colombia Defy COVID-19 and Promote Inclusive Peace

November 30, 2020

By Beatriz Ciordia and Cecilia Lazara

Edited by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

“We will never be seen as changemakers if the public does not see, read or listen about the work that we, as women, do in our communities”, noted women’s rights activist and a member of the Red Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Network; RNM) Vanessa Liévano during a Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) workshop held in December 2019 in Popayán. Popayán is the capital of Cauca, one of the departments most affected by the decades-long conflict in Colombia. The workshop was organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in partnership with RNM and Red Departamental de Mujeres de Cauca (Departmental Network of Women in Cauca), and with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). Liévano’s words resonate even louder today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – a public health crisis that has had severe impacts on women’s rights, human security and peace in Colombia. The pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities, put women at a greater risk of violence, and created new challenges for the implementation of the peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC).

Despite these challenges, women and youth peacebuilders in Colombia have been at the forefront of the response to the intersecting health, humanitarian and security crises caused by COVID-19. RNM supported women peacebuilders to prepare and distribute food packages, hygiene and reproductive health products, such as contraceptive pills, condoms and pregnancy tests, to women and girls, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees, and internally displaced persons. RNM collaborated with the indigenous guard to make sure that the packages reach indigenous women and girls living in remote areas. In parallel, women activists have also continued their peacebuilding work, monitoring the peace agreement implementation, translating local needs into concrete policy proposals, and advocating for the inclusion of gender-responsive provisions in local development plans.

However, illustrating the truth of Vanessa Liévano’s words, the work of Colombian women to address COVID-19 and its impacts remains largely unseen and unsupported. Against this background, women peacebuilders warn that the pandemic threatens the achievements of the women’s movement and the WPS agenda. Their message is clear: we cannot afford to back down. The implementation of the peace agreement and WPS agenda needs to continue despite the new and growing challenges. Peace simply cannot wait!

Peace in Colombia is more fragile than ever

The signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC in 2018 was a great achievement for the women’s movement in the country. The agreement, which includes more than 120 gender-responsive provisions, has been hailed internationally as an example of good practice. Its strength came to a large extent from the contributions of women—both as negotiators and civil society. However, as a 2018 Kroc Institute report points out, the implementation of the agreement has been slow, and there have been many delays, especially on the implementation of gender-responsive provisions. The delays are partly due to the failure of President Iván Duque and his administration to make progress on key elements of the agreement, including the reintegration of the former combatants and the rural economic reform.

Women peacebuilders are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic will further slow down the already delayed implementation. They warn that resources are diverted from peace agreement implementation to emergency health response. They also urge that adoption and implementation of the development plans at the municipal, departmental and national levels must not be delayed due to the pandemic, since they are key instruments in translating the peace agreement into concrete actions on the ground. “The current crisis is being used as an excuse not to address issues related to peace. For [the government], there’s only one priority: the pandemic”, says Francy Jaramillo, a member of the Red Departmental de Mujeres del Cauca. Women who participated in a recent research conducted by GNWP stressed that pandemic was used as an excuse to channel funds away from the transitional justice institutions established under the peace agreement, including the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, making their work more difficult.

Colombia’s fragile peace is further endangered by the ongoing fighting among armed groups to control key territories. During the pandemic, the groups have moved to consolidate their power, and fighting intensified in many departments. In Cauca, armed groups imposed confinement measures on local communities. In most cases, these restrictions were more severe than those imposed by the national government. In Popayán, for instance, armed groups dictated who was allowed to leave and enter certain territories, leaving women and communities completely at their mercy. “We now have to face two crises: the ongoing, worsening conflict in Colombia, and the new COVID-19 crisis”, Jaramillo stressed.

The armed groups have also stepped up their recruitment during the pandemic. The closure of schools and daycare centers has made children and young women and men more vulnerable, and allowed armed groups to easily recruit and exploit girls and boys, who no longer have the protection of a classroom. There has also been a spike in the number of girls and women killed by firearms in rural areas, where clashes between criminal groups have increased dramatically. All of this has made the peace in Colombia more fragile than ever.

Colombian women are under threat during the pandemic

In parallel, COVID-19 has exacerbated threats faced by women and girls in Colombia, many of whom have become targets of unprecedented levels of violence, especially in rural areas. According to Indepaz, a local watchdog organization, at least 251 community and human rights leaders have been murdered in Colombia in 2020. The number of femicides increased at an extremely alarming rate  in September, when 86 women were murdered across the country—the highest monthly total since 2017. Cauca continues to be one of the most dangerous departments for women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. According to Jaramillo, since the beginning of the pandemic, 38 femicides have been registered in this department. Yet, like the work done by women peacebuilders, the attacks on women remain invisible, and many of the cases have not been reported by the media.

The lockdown measures implemented by the government have further exposed women to risk, as many of them found themselves trapped with their abusers. As a result, the domestic violence hotline (“linea purpura”) in Bogotá received twice as many reports of domestic violence during the lockdown as before. Moreover, as Colombia was put under lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly virus, many women were unable to carry out their work and advocacy. They had to give up the independence and freedom they had fought so hard for. “I don’t know if we’ll manage to make women leave their homes and become politically active again”, shared Jaramillo, adding that the situation is even more challenging for indigenous women. “Many of them tell us that, for them, there is no pandemic because they’ve always lived like this”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the gendered digital gap and the inequalities that persist between rural and urban areas in Colombia. Due to the lack of internet connectivity in remote areas, many rural women were unable to actively participate in the advocacy for the implementation of the peace agreement, and better protection of women activists. This affected particularly indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, which had more limited access to technology, and capacity to make use of it, before the pandemic. Access to technology has become a basic right; therefore, it is essential to expand platforms to amplify the voices of women and girls at all levels.

An opportunity for mobilization and Innovation

At the same time, COVID-19 has also demonstrated the resilience of the women’s movement. Despite the challenges and the barriers in access to the digital spaces, women peacebuilders did not stop their work. According to Jaramillo, “the women’s movement has been strengthened as we resort to alternative strategies; this serves as a push for a more connected movement”. Women peacebuilders who participated in virtual convenings organized by GNWP and RNM pointed out that citizen involvement did not stop during COVID-19, and that some women feel more comfortable in the new situation, as they have the possibility to turn off their videos and express their feelings in a safe environment. “The pandemic can divide us physically, but it does not silence us”, said one of the participants of the Localization workshops in Cauca during one of the weekly virtual meetings RNM and GNWP held to monitor the progress of the peace agreement.

Women in Colombia and around the world are using the pandemic as an opportunity to call for structural changes needed to build sustainable and inclusive peace. These include:

  • Valuing women’s unpaid work

Beatriz Quintero, head of RNM, agrees that the health crisis has contributed to bringing more attention to women’s care work. “One positive side of this pandemic is that Colombians have finally started talking about women’s unpaid work”, she reflected, adding that “policy-makers must recognize the value of what has been considered a natural female task”. Additionally, feminists groups are also seizing this moment to advocate for more equitable economic policies that allow women in the informal sector to have more job security and receive pensions and other social benefits.

  • Shifting from militarized culture to human security

COVID-19 also creates an opportunity to re-evaluate global priorities. The record-high global military expenditure in 2019  has not stopped the health crisis, nor made anyone safer during COVID-19. On the contrary, the pandemic has brought to light the dangers of over-militarized cultures, including the abuse of power. Jaramillo shared that although “the military forces have always abused power in Colombia”, the distrust between the security forces and Colombian society has deepened since the pandemic.

  • Recognizing and amplifying women’s leadership

Women’s work can no longer be obscured by patriarchal narratives and approaches. As Liévano emphasized during the Localization workshop held by GNWP and RNM in December 2019, it is of utmost importance to recognize the efforts made by women peacebuilders to achieve sustainable and inclusive peace in their communities, especially during these challenging times.

At GNWP, we believe that journalists and media practitioners are critical allies in our fight for the recognition and advancement of women’s rights and sustainable and inclusive peace. They can define the way people perceive women and girls, either representing them as sex objects and helpless victims, or highlighting their agency and leadership. Unfortunately, the dominant narrative usually portrays women as passive victims in need of protection, rather than promoting their role as active agents for peace.

To challenge this perspective, GNWP and RNM, in partnership with Pacifista and with the support of Norad, launched a National Media and WPS Prize, to encourage journalists to write, film and record stories that promote women’s leadership in the peace process and showcase their relentless activism. Look out for our next blog sharing the results of the Prize!

COVID-19 gave rise to unprecedented challenges to peace, and to women’s rights, in Colombia and around the world. However, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on what type of future we hope for – and how to achieve it. Colombian women we engaged through GNWP’s Localization work want a peaceful world that has overcome unequal gender barriers, a world where women’s voices are heard, and their leadership capacity is justly recognized.

GNWP’s experience working with women peacebuilders around the world tells us that this is possible – but only if women are meaningfully included and their relentless work for just and equal societies recognized and supported. We are committed to continue our efforts towards this future. To our members and partners who are leading this change in Colombia and beyond, we say: we see you, we hear you and we are with you!


¡Mírenos, escúchenos, únase a nosotras! Mujeres constructoras de paz en Colombia desafían al COVID-19 y promueven una paz inclusiva.

30 de noviembre de 2020

Por Beatriz Ciordia y Cecilia Lazara

Editado por Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

 “Nunca podremos ser reconocidas como agentes de cambio si otros no ven, leen o escuchan sobre el trabajo que nosotras, como mujeres, hacemos en nuestras comunidades”, señaló la activista por los derechos de las mujeres y miembro de la Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) Vanessa Liévano durante el taller de Localización sobre Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (MPS) realizado en diciembre de 2019 en Popayán. Popayán es la capital del Cauca, uno de los departamentos más afectados por el conflicto armado de Colombia. El taller fue organizado por la Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés) en colaboración con RNM y la Red Departamental de Mujeres de Cauca, y con el apoyo de la Agencia Noruega para Cooperación al Desarrollo (Norad). Hoy en día, las palabras de Liévano resuenan aún más fuerte en medio de la pandemia de COVID-19 – una crisis de salud pública que ha causado un severo impacto sobre los derechos de las mujeres, la seguridad humana y la paz en Colombia. La pandemia ha exacerbado las desigualdades de género, ha puesto a las mujeres en mayor riesgo de violencia y ha creado nuevos desafíos para la implementación del acuerdo de paz con las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

A pesar de estos desafíos, en Colombia, las mujeres, así como las jóvenes y los jóvenes constructores de paz, han estado a la vanguardia de la respuesta a las crisis entrecruzadas de salud, humanitarias y de seguridad causadas por COVID-19. RNM ha estado apoyando a las mujeres constructoras de paz, preparando y distribuyendo paquetes de alimentos y productos de higiene y salud reproductiva (como píldoras anticonceptivas, condones y pruebas de embarazo) a mujeres y niñas, ancianos, personas con discapacidad, refugiados y desplazados internos. RNM también ha colaborado ​​con la guardia indígena para asegurarse de que los paquetes lleguen a las mujeres y niñas indígenas que viven en áreas remotas. Paralelamente, las mujeres activistas también han continuado su trabajo de consolidación de paz, monitoreando la implementación del acuerdo, traduciendo las necesidades locales en propuestas de políticas concretas y abogando por la inclusión de disposiciones con enfoque de género en los planes de desarrollo local.

Sin embargo, como bien ha señalado Vanessa Liévano, el trabajo de las mujeres colombianas para abordar el COVID-19 y sus impactos permanece en gran parte invisible y sin respaldo. En este contexto, las mujeres constructoras de paz advierten que la pandemia amenaza los logros del movimiento de mujeres y la agenda MPS. Por tanto, su mensaje es claro: no podemos darnos el lujo de dar marcha atrás. La implementación del acuerdo de paz y la agenda MPS debe continuar a pesar de los nuevos y crecientes desafíos. ¡La paz simplemente no puede esperar!

La paz en Colombia, más frágil que nunca

La firma del acuerdo de paz entre el Gobierno de Colombia y las FARC en el 2018 fue un gran logro para el movimiento de las mujeres en el país. El acuerdo, que incluye más de 120 disposiciones con enfoque de género, ha sido aclamado internacionalmente como un ejemplo de buena práctica. En gran medida, su fuerza provino de las contribuciones de las mujeres, tanto como negociadoras así como miembros de la sociedad civil. Sin embargo, como remarca el informe del Instituto Kroc de 2018, la implementación del acuerdo ha sido lenta y ha habido muchos retrasos, especialmente en lo que respecta a las disposiciones con enfoque de género. En parte, las demoras se deben a que el presidente Iván Duque y su administración no han logrado avanzar en elementos clave del acuerdo, tales como la reintegración de los excombatientes y la reforma económica rural.

Una gran preocupación entre las mujeres constructoras de paz es que la pandemia de COVID-19 ralentice aún más la ya demorada implementación. En los últimos tiempos han advertido que los recursos nacionales se han desviado de la implementación del acuerdo hacia la respuesta de emergencia sanitaria. Asimismo, las mujeres exigen el cumplimiento de la adopción e implementación de los planes de desarrollo a nivel municipal, departamental y nacional por temor a que se retrasen debido a la pandemia. Los planes de desarrollo representan instrumentos clave para traducir el acuerdo de paz en acciones concretas sobre el terreno. “La crisis actual se utiliza como excusa para evitar abordar cuestiones relacionadas con la paz. Para [el gobierno], solo hay una prioridad: la pandemia”, explica Francy Jaramillo, integrante de la Red Departamental de Mujeres del Cauca. A su vez, en una investigación realizada por GNWP, las mujeres constructoras de paz han destacado que su trabajo resulta cada vez más difícil debido a que la pandemia se percibe como una excusa para desviar fondos de las instituciones de justicia transicional establecidas en virtud del acuerdo de paz, incluida la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz.

Paralelamente, el frágil proceso de paz en Colombia se ve aún más amenazado por los constantes combates entre grupos armados que se disputan el control de territorios claves. Durante la pandemia, los grupos se han movilizado para consolidar su poder y la lucha se intensificó en muchos departamentos. En Cauca, por ejemplo, los grupos armados impusieron medidas de confinamiento a las comunidades locales. En la mayoría de los casos, estas restricciones fueron más severas que las impuestas por el gobierno nacional. En Popayán, por otra parte, los grupos armados controlaban a quién se le permitía salir y entrar en ciertos territorios, dejando a las mujeres y comunidades completamente a su merced. “Ahora tenemos que enfrentar dos crisis: el conflicto en curso en Colombia y la nueva crisis del COVID-19”, enfatizó Jaramillo.

Lamentablemente también se ha intensificado el reclutamiento por parte de los grupos armados durante la pandemia. El cierre de escuelas y guarderías ha aumentado la vulnerabilidad de los niños, las mujeres y los hombres jóvenes y ha permitido que los grupos recluten y exploten fácilmente a niñas y niños, que no cuentan con la protección de un aula. A su vez, se ha producido un aumento en el número de niñas y mujeres asesinadas por armas de fuego en las zonas rurales, donde los enfrentamientos entre grupos criminales han aumentado de manera dramática. Todos estos hechos demuestran que el proceso de paz de Colombia se encuentra más frágil que nunca.

Mujeres colombianas amenazadas durante la pandemia

COVID-19 ha exacerbado las amenazas que enfrentan las mujeres y niñas en Colombia, muchas de las cuales se han convertido en blanco de niveles de violencia sin precedentes, especialmente en áreas rurales. Según Indepaz, una organización que realiza el monitoreo del conflicto, al menos 251 líderes comunitarios y de derechos humanos han sido asesinados en Colombia durante el 2020. Además, el número de femicidios aumentó a un ritmo extremadamente alarmante. En septiembre, 86 mujeres fueron asesinadas en todo el país, el total mensual más alto desde 2017. El Cauca sigue siendo uno de los departamentos más peligrosos para las mujeres constructoras de paz y defensoras de derechos humanos. Según Jaramillo, desde el inicio de la pandemia se han registrado 38 femicidios en este departamento. Sin embargo, al igual que el trabajo realizado por mujeres constructoras de paz, los ataques a las mujeres permanecen invisibles y muchos de los casos no son reportados por los medios de comunicación.

Las medidas de contención implementadas por el gobierno para detener la propagación del virus mortal han incrementado el riesgo de violencia para las mujeres, ya que muchas de ellas permanecieron atrapadas con sus abusadores. Como resultado, la línea directa de violencia doméstica (“línea púrpura”) en Bogotá recibió el doble de denuncias de violencia doméstica durante el encierro en comparación al período previo a la cuarentena. A su vez, a causa de estas medidas, varias mujeres activistas no pudieron llevar a cabo su trabajo de promoción y defensa por la paz. Tuvieron que renunciar a su independencia y libertad por la que tanto habían luchado. “No sé si lograremos que las mujeres abandonen sus hogares y vuelvan a ser políticamente activas”, compartió Jaramillo, y agregó que la situación es aún más desafiante para las mujeres indígenas. “Muchos nos dicen que, para ellos, no hay pandemia porque siempre han vivido así”.

La pandemia de COVID-19 también ha puesto de manifiesto la brecha digital de género y las desigualdades que persisten entre las zonas rurales y urbanas de Colombia. Debido a la falta de conectividad a Internet en áreas remotas, muchas mujeres rurales no pudieron participar activamente en la promoción para la implementación del acuerdo de paz, y una mejor protección de las mujeres activistas. Esto afectó particularmente a las comunidades indígenas y afrocolombianas, ya que antes de la pandemia tenían un acceso más limitado a la tecnología y a los recursos para su utilización. Como se puede observar, el acceso a la tecnología se ha convertido en un derecho básico; por lo tanto, es fundamental ampliar las plataformas para amplificar las voces de las mujeres y las niñas en todos los niveles posibles.

Una oportunidad para la movilización y la innovación

Simultáneamente, COVID-19 también ha destacado la resistencia del movimiento de mujeres. A pesar de los desafíos y las barreras en el acceso a los espacios digitales, las mujeres constructoras de paz no detuvieron su trabajo. Según Jaramillo, “el movimiento de mujeres se ha fortalecido al recurrir a estrategias alternativas; esto sirve como impulso para un movimiento más conectado”. Las mujeres constructoras de paz que participaron en convocatorias virtuales organizadas por GNWP y RNM señalaron que la participación ciudadana no se suspendió durante el COVID-19, y que algunas mujeres incluso se sienten más cómodas con esta nueva situación, ya que tienen la posibilidad de apagar sus videos y expresar sus sentimientos en un ambiente seguro. “La pandemia puede dividirnos físicamente, pero no nos silencia”, expresó uno de los participantes de los talleres de localización en Cauca durante una de las reuniones virtuales semanales que RNM y GNWP realizaron para monitorear el avance del acuerdo de paz.

Las mujeres en Colombia y en todo el mundo están utilizando la pandemia como una oportunidad para reclamar cambios estructurales necesarios para la construcción de una paz sostenible e inclusiva. Estos cambios incluyen:

  • Valorar el trabajo no remunerado de las mujeres

Beatriz Quintero, directora de RNM, coincide en que la crisis de salud ha contribuido a resaltar el trabajo de cuidado de la mujer. “Un lado positivo de esta pandemia es que los colombianos finalmente han comenzado a hablar sobre el trabajo no remunerado que ejercen las mujeres”, y a su vez agrega que “los legisladores deben reconocer el valor de lo que se ha considerado una tarea natural de las mujeres”. Asimismo, los grupos feministas también están aprovechando este momento para abogar por políticas económicas más equitativas que permitan a las mujeres en el sector informal tener más seguridad laboral y recibir pensiones y otros beneficios sociales.

  • Pasar de una cultura militarizada a una cultura que tenga en cuenta la seguridad humana

COVID-19 también crea una oportunidad para reevaluar las prioridades globales. El gasto militar mundial récord durante el 2019 no ha detenido la crisis de salud ni ha garantizado una mayor seguridad para los individuos. Por el contrario, la pandemia ha develado los peligros de las culturas sobre-militarizadas, incluido el abuso de poder. Jaramillo compartió que aunque “las fuerzas militares siempre han abusado del poder en Colombia”, la desconfianza entre las fuerzas de seguridad y la sociedad colombiana se ha profundizado desde el inicio de la emergencia sanitaria.

  • Reconocer y ampliar el liderazgo de las mujeres

El trabajo de las mujeres no puede seguir oculto detrás de narrativas y enfoques patriarcales. Como bien destacó Liévano durante el taller de localización celebrado por GNWP y RNM en diciembre de 2019, es esencial que se reconozcan los esfuerzos realizados por las mujeres constructoras de paz para lograr una paz sostenible e inclusiva en sus comunidades, especialmente durante estos tiempos desafiantes.

En GNWP, creemos que los periodistas y los profesionales de los medios de comunicación son aliados fundamentales en nuestra lucha por el reconocimiento y el avance de los derechos de las mujeres y una paz sostenible e inclusiva. Estos actores pueden definir la forma en que las personas perciben a las mujeres y las niñas, ya sea representándolas como objetos sexuales y víctimas indefensas, o destacando su agencia y liderazgo. No obstante, desafortunadamente, la narrativa dominante suele presentar a las mujeres como víctimas pasivas que necesitan protección, en lugar de promover su papel como agentes activos para la paz.

Para desafiar esta perspectiva, GNWP y RNM, en asociación con Pacifista y con el apoyo de Norad, lanzaron un Premio Nacional de Medios y MPS. Su objetivo principal fue alentar a los periodistas a escribir, filmar y grabar historias que promuevan el liderazgo de las mujeres en el proceso de paz y muestren su implacable activismo. ¡Estén atentos a nuestro próximo blog que compartirá los resultados del Premio!

COVID-19 generó desafíos sin precedentes para la paz y los derechos de las mujeres en Colombia y en el mundo. Sin embargo, también representa una oportunidad para reflexionar sobre el tipo de futuro que deseamos y cómo lograrlo. Las mujeres colombianas, que tuvimos el placer de conocer a través del trabajo de localización de GNWP, desean un mundo pacífico que haya superado las barreras de género desiguales; un mundo donde se escuchen sus voces y se reconozca con justicia su capacidad de liderazgo.

La experiencia de GNWP, trabajando con mujeres constructoras de paz en todo el mundo, nos dice que esto es posible – pero sólo si se incluye a las mujeres de manera significativa y se reconoce y apoya su incansable trabajo para construir sociedades justas e igualitarias. Estamos comprometidas para continuar nuestros esfuerzos para avanzar hacia este futuro. A todxs nuestrxs miembrxs y aliadxs globales que están liderando este cambio en Colombia y más allá, les queremos decir que: ¡lxs vemos, lxs escuchamos y estamos con ustedes!