IMP: COLOMBIAN WOMEN AND PEACE
Colombia is currently enduring one of the longest internal conflicts, with fighting paramilitary groups, guerrilla groups, and drug wars lasting over a 60-year period. This civil war has led to the creation of many organizations striving to end the armed conflict. One of these organizations is the Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la PAZ (IMP), or The Alliance Initiative of Colombian Women for Peace, which was created in 2001. This organization aims to support the construction of peace in Colombia by going to areas of conflict, promoting peace, and diminishing violence as a way of building peace “from the bottom up.” They also provide legal and psychological assistance to many of the victims of the armed conflict.
The IMP was approved under Law 1448, created in 2011. This law reaffirms their work and focuses on assistance and internal reparations to victims of the armed conflicts in Colombia. In 2014, they made great strides under their director, Angela Ceron. In May 2014 the Equipo Nacional de la Alianza - The National Alliance Team for The IMP - met in Bogota, coming to an agreement on a mandate to send to President Juan Manuel Santos. This mandate would focus on many aspects the Colombian government needs to focus on to achieve peace. It would also continue the current peace talks they are holding in Havana with prominent guerrilla group, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).
Under this mandate, the Equipo Nacional asks the president to address the following issues: Post Conflict Institutions, beginning a peace process with the ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, another guerilla force in Colombia), Transitional Justice, and addressing the Gender Perspective. Major points include working with the Ministry of Post-Conflict to design and implement a public policy to help victims assimilate to normal lifestyles and help the peace process. The mandate also acknowledges the suffering that women face daily due to the armed conflict, including limited rights based on gender and being directly targeted by armed groups, which often leads to sexual violence. The IMP says it is necessary to begin opening local areas for participation and discussion for women who have been either directly or indirectly affected. This way, Resolution 1325 of the Security Council of the UN can be implemented, thereby recognizing women as agents for peace. These are all components of the mandate created in May 2014; Ceron is in charge of taking it to the president.
Other than this mandate, the IMP has already come a long way in terms of the peace process. They achieved a variety of things including a larger presence of women in peace processes at national and municipal levels, guardianship and protection for victims, and the clarification of the importance of women’s rights in legal proceedings (under the Law of Justice and Peace). This organization has faced several challenges including getting support from diverse political groups across Colombia and understanding the nuances of internal politics.
The IMP has succeeded in helping the peace process continue but it still has a long way to go. They will continue to help strengthen women as they come to terms with the violence they have faced and strive for peace in times of conflict. Peace Direct has compiled a list of organizations striving for peace in Colombia, which you can access here.
Written by Nicole Ransom
ART WORKS Projects Intern