This week saw the launch of a new council of indigenous women in Colombia, which will work towards ensuring the voices of their respective communities are heard as the country moves towards peace.
One of the first of its kind anywhere, the National Council of Indigenous Women in Colombia (CONAMIC) is a network of women from 10 different indigenous groups across Colombia. Established with support from Conciliation Resources and our Colombian partner organisation CIASE, they will work to promote the rights and active participation of indigenous women in the on-going peace process.
Indigenous communities were some of the worst affected by the five decades of armed conflict in Colombia. Much of the conflict took place within indigenous territories, and women in particular, were disproportionally affected by the resulting violence and displacement. Despite this, they are generally excluded from processes to build peace. Margarita Rodriguez is an indigenous representative of the Sikunai People:
We have faced armed conflict, psychological violence, domestic violence within our communities, and outside we suffer discrimination.
At a community level, CONAMIC will train around 100 indigenous women to monitor the protection and participation of indigenous women, and to transform the attitudes and behaviours of men towards women in indigenous communities.
Kristian Herbolzheimer, Conciliation Resources’ Colombia Programme Director, explains:
It is important to understand that peacebuilding is a joint task with society. We must end the structural violence that many indigenous women know, and raise the voices of women that have been marginalised.
CONAMIC will also work at a national level, to ensure that indigenous communities are represented during the implementation of the country’s peace process.
The historic peace agreement, signed between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, acknowledges the impact of the conflict on indigenous communities, and ensures that they will be included in the implementation of the peace process. CONAMIC members will monitor this implementation, to make sure their views and concerns, and those of their communities are taken into account.
Ivonne González is Director of Human Rights at the Ministry of the Interior and spoke during the event:
Having a group of indigenous women today is fundamental, because women’s activism was what embodied a gender subcommittee in Havana [the location of the peace talks].
Working alongside CIASE, Conciliation Resources will continue to support the establishment and development of CONAMIC through training and skills development. This work is made possible thanks to funding from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.