In October 2012, Peace Talks began in Havana, Cuba between the Colombian government and the largest and longest-running guerilla group, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The Peace Talks agenda focuses on resolving six issues: Land Reform, Political Participation, Drug Trafficking, Rights of Victims, the Disarmament of Rebels, and the Implementation of the Peace Deal. Six months into the Peace Talks, the negotiators came to an agreement on land reform, and in May 2014 they came to an agreement on illegal drug trafficking. These are the only two resolved issues out of the six on the agenda, and without a ceasefire between the guerrillas and the Colombian armed forces, the process could take several years to complete rather than the anticipated few months.

The agenda fails to address the issue of women, and controversially, women were not originally involved in the peace talks. At the beginning the negotiation panel was all men, even though two women had helped initiate the peace process. Both Elena Ambrosi, the director of the human rights office for the Ministry of Defense, and Lucia Jaramillo Ayerbe, who works in the President’s office, signed the initial agreement in August 2012 but were not granted spots on the negotiation panel.

The absence of women on the panel did not change until 2013, when President Juan Manuel Santos appointed María Paulina Riveros, the head of the Interior Ministry’s human rights work, and Nigeria Rentería Lozano, the President’s senior advisor for gender equality, to the negotiating team. This was the first time women were included on any Colombian negotiating panels in the peace processes. The appointment of these two women was especially significant because one is afro-Colombian, improving both the gender and racial representation on the negotiating team.

 In September 2014, the Colombian government announced that a twelve-person delegation of victims joining the peace talks would include eight women. These eight women represent victims of sexual violence, mothers and sisters who have lost family members to disappearances and armed conflict, indigenous women who traditionally suffer from more inequality than the non-indigenous population, and women targeted by both the government and the armed conflict, among others. These women offer a voice for those who have been hardly heard in the Peace Talks thus far. 

The under-representation of women during the first year of the Peace Talks caused controversy because women make up approximately one-third of the guerrilla forces, and they often suffer from the worst crimes. Adding women to the panel will make the Peace Talks more equal and representative, emphasizing that justice – and peace – are for everyone.


Written by Nicole Ransom
ART WORKS Projects Intern


More information:

Peace Women
Foreign Policy