We have achieved a lot, I mean it is only one year since we signed the agreement, and I think we are moving forward...We have a commitment as a women’s movement to have a better country in, I don’t know, 20 years, but we have to work each day for that.
Rosa Emilia Salamanca
A year after the signing of the Colombian peace agreement, women from diverse sectors of Colombian society met last week at a conference in London to celebrate their achievements so far and look at the challenges ahead. The International Conference was organised by ABColombia, a coalition of organisations supporting human rights in Colombia, and supported by Conciliation Resources among others.
In total over 120 people took part in the conference at Senate House, which also included Colombian government representatives, civil society organisations, members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) via Skype and government officials from the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the EU.
Kristian Herbolzheimer, Director of Conciliation Resources’ Transitions to Peace Programme, chaired one of the day’s key debates. The session focused on challenges to the implementation of gender and ethnic provisions within the deal, including the potential impact on the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous women. Kristian explains that,
Women and indigenous communities are the backbone of the peace process in Colombia.
Earlier this year, Conciliation Resources supported Colombian partner organisation CIASE to establish the National Council of Indigenous Women in Colombia (CONAMIC). This is a network of women from 10 different indigenous groups working to promote the rights and active participation of indigenous women in the on-going peace process.
Helga Flamtermesky, coordinator of the Truth, Memory and Reconciliation Commission of Colombian Women in the Diaspora (TMRC), shared the achievements of the women of the Colombian diaspora. The TMRC is an initiative supported by Conciliation Resources which brings together women in London and Barcelona, to share their stories and memories of conflict and migration, and to claim a voice in Colombia’s peace process.
Conciliation Resources’ long term partners were also amongst the guest speakers. Rosa Emilia Salamanca from CIASE informed the attendees about the efforts of women in civil society to influence the peace negotiations as well as the agreement implementation. Rosa Emilia was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour after the event and shared her experiences of living in Colombia during the first year of the peace agreement. She said,
It is important [for women to continue to be involved in the peace process] because we are hopeful that this is a window of opportunity to change the condition and position of many women who have been highly affected during the conflict.
As well as celebrating the achievements already made by Colombian women, the conference importantly allowed participants to present recommendations to improve the pace and effectiveness of the implementation of the peace agreement.