Women as central agents for peacebuilding

The Colombian conflict began in the mid-1960s between Colombian governments, paramilitary groups, crime syndicates and left-wing guerillas such as the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), fighting each other to increse their influence in Colombian territory. Half through 2016 the Colombian government and FARC agreed to a ceasefire, following a peace agreement later that year. Peace negotiations are underway with ELN, but other security threats are still present, including the concomitance of criminal groups with local politics. According to various reports, Colombia has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and widespread use of sexual violence against women and girls as a weapon of war.

Following UN Security's Council's resolution 1325, calling for women's engagement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, Health Works formed a consortium and joined forces with two other Dutch organizations, ICCO Cooperation and Mensen met een Missie for the project 'Women as Central Agents for Peacebuilding in Colombia'. Our aim in this project is to provide a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of gender-based violence and ongoing gender inequality, and to construct a more equal participation in decision making and peacebuilding. The project is being implemented in nine departments and two subregions in Colombia over the course of three years, starting in November 2016. 

Project intervention strategies

Four intervention strategies have been developed by our consortium to facilitate project implementation:

  • Capacity building processes through training
  • Information gathering & knowledge building through research
  • Policy influencing & monitoring of public policies through lobby and advocacy
  • Information & awareness raising through communication & campaign 

These four interrelated strategies together contribute to: (1) an improved protection and prevention of gender-based violence; (2) decrease harmful gender norms and construct power relations based on greater gender equity; (3) a more equitative and efficient participation for women, related with peacebuilding. Through these strategies, we seek to empower women and their communities, also promoting the participation of men and youth, and carrying out changes in their perception of conventional gender roles, imaginaries, beliefs, and values.

To achieve effective influence in public policy processes, the establishment and strengthening of national and regional alliances will be fostered. Our consortium is already working together with ten local Colombian organizations: Amiga Joven, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, CODACOP, Corporación Tamar, Espacios de Mujer, La Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad (LIMPAL Colombia), La Fundación Mencoldes, Red Tamar of the CRC, Rempaz, and Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres