2022-Colombia elections: peace accord and, with it, safety of women at stake

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The destiny of the nation’s historic peace course of — and the way it impacts Colombians residing amid a fragile truce — might be at stake. Each candidates have mentioned they will help the implementation of the peace course of however the element of that help is not at all times clear. This has understandably made these most impacted by the battle, who labored arduous to dealer peace, apprehensive.

The competition has quite a lot of firsts. If 62-year-old former guerrilla Gustavo Petro wins on June 19, he shall be Colombia’s first leftist chief. Petro received the primary spherical with simply over 40% of the vote. On this second spherical he’s working in opposition to 77-year previous centrist building magnate Rodolfo Hernández, a populist.
Additionally for the primary time, the working mates for each final-round candidates are Afro-Colombian ladies. Francia Márquez, a 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner with an extended historical past of rural social activism, is on the ticket with Petro. With Hernández is Marelen Castillo Torres, who has spent her skilled life in academia. She is at the moment Educational Vice Chancellor at Universidad Minuto de Dios.
The 2 ladies have taken totally different roles within the campaigns. Márquez — who after main ladies in her neighborhood to protest unlawful mining and neighborhood eviction has been a public determine in Colombia because the 2010s — has rallied against the nation’s political and financial established order whereas on the marketing campaign path. Márquez has lengthy championed ladies’s rights, financial empowerment packages, and entry to land for the poor.
Little is known about Castillo, who has no historical past in politics. She is a recent addition to Hernández’s campaign, and has not made many public appearances, though in media interviews she has spoken about selling entry to training.

Past a girl on the proper hand of the president, what can Colombians — and particularly Colombian ladies who bore the brunt of the Western Hemisphere’s longest working armed battle — anticipate from their future leaders?

A historical past of conflict-related violence

Girls in Colombia disproportionately suffered within the 50-plus years of battle between authorities forces, guerilla and paramilitary teams. But, ladies additionally performed vital roles as peace builders in ending that battle, and in rebuilding their communities in its aftermath.

Sexual violence was broadly used to achieve social and territorial management. Probably the most up-to-date information from Colombia’s victims’ registry paperwork more than 31,000 cases of sexual violence reported. Millions of women have additionally been affected by pressured displacement, with many taking over financial duty for his or her households after their husbands have been killed, they usually needed to flee their houses and communities.
Research have proven that displaced women face high risk of gender-based violence, together with sexual violence. As a direct results of the gendered fallout of the battle, gender equality featured prominently within the peace accords — as did the popularity of the need for racial and ethnic justice.
Women played important roles in the course of the negotiations, even forming a ‘Gender Sub-commission’, a novel house made up of representatives from the FARC, the federal government, and civil society and meant to make sure that all experiences of battle have been acknowledged and addressed within the last deal.

When it was finalized, the Colombian Last Accord included commitments in key areas together with rural reform, safety and safety ensures, and victims’ rights.

“The popularity of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination as underlying forces within the battle, and the inclusion of provisions to straight deal with them … was a hard-fought accomplishment of civil society, notably ladies’s, LGBTIQ, Afro-Colombian, and Indigenous organizations,” wrote affiliate professor of regulation on the Metropolis College of New York Lisa Davis within the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Davis added: “Afro-Colombian organizations, with sturdy management from Afro-Colombian ladies, developed a imaginative and prescient for the peace course of that acknowledged and remedied historic injustices and discrimination dedicated in opposition to them, together with gender discrimination, with a purpose to guarantee an inclusive and lasting peace.”

But the conservative authorities of Iván Duque, that got here into energy in 2018, has not but carried out 42 of the 133 gender commitments that had been agreed upon, based on the Kroc Institute, accountable for monitoring the implementation of the Accord.
Talking extra broadly concerning the settlement, Washington-based analysis and advocacy group WOLA wrote on the fifth anniversary of the accords that “implementing the accord has gone extra poorly than anticipated, and alternatives to interrupt the cycle of violence are evaporating.”
Though the peace deal is legally binding, the rigor with which it’s utilized is topic to the curiosity of the federal government in energy.
Petro and Márquez have a clear outline of how they plan to implement the peace course of if elected. Whereas Hernández and Castillo additionally say they’ll implement it, their guarantees are extra obscure. Hernández has already come below international media scrutiny for what critics say is the hole between the marketing campaign and the person behind the marketing campaign. CNN, for instance, studies that whereas Hernández’s “clearest pitch has been his promise to ‘do away with corruption'”… [he] has had his personal troubles with allegations of corruption — and a few are ongoing.” Hernández has denied the cost that’s anticipated to go to court docket subsequent month, saying: “With present legal guidelines, each candidate will be sued by anybody.”

For his or her half, the social leaders I’ve been talking with in current weeks aren’t assured that the implementation of the method can be a central focus of Hernández’s authorities, that means that safety situations in rural areas may keep the identical and even change into extra harmful.

“Whether or not, how, and when the subsequent president of Colombia will implement the peace accord could possibly be the distinction between life and demise for ladies leaders.”

Researcher Julia Margaret Zulver

Searching for peace and talking out in opposition to drug trafficking, little one recruitment into armed teams, and environmental degradation, has come at nice value to Colombia’s ladies leaders.

For the previous seven years, I have been researching how women pursue justice in high-risk contexts. In that point, I’ve heard dozens of accounts of activists threatened, focused, and attacked.
Most of the ladies I interviewed, typically with their government-issued bodyguards following intently, mentioned that not solely has the 2016 peace course of by no means truly materialized, the threats they face are more intense than ever.

Their names have, for instance, been included in public demise threats circulated by armed teams with a easy message: cease their social activism or die. Consequently, many now not dwell of their dwelling communities, isolating from their households with a purpose to defend their youngsters.

Final week, a colleague and I hung out with Afro-Colombian ladies leaders within the north of Cauca province, a conflict-stricken area within the southwest of the nation, the place Márquez was herself born and started her activism. In current weeks, many of those ladies advised me they’ve obtained demise threats through cellphone calls or messages. Some say they’ve narrowly survived assassination makes an attempt.
Neighborhood chief Doña Tuta suffered a worse destiny. She was murdered within the close by the town of Cali simply final week. She is the newest in an extended line of girls human rights defenders who’ve misplaced their lives in Colombia because the signing of the Peace Accords.

For Colombia’s grassroots ladies leaders throughout the nation, what’s at stake in these elections is their potential to dwell safely of their communities. Whether or not, how, and when the subsequent president will truly implement the peace accord could possibly be the distinction between life and demise for them.

Supporters of Colombian left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro paste banners before a rally at the Fontibon neighborhood in Bogota on June 12, 2022.

The peace course of is extra vital than ever

Although Colombia is now a post-conflict state on paper, the variety of internally displaced folks (IDPs) continues to rise as different armed teams proceed to violently conflict.
Colombia now has the third largest number of IDPs on this planet, coming solely behind Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Latin American state has been described by Reuters as “the world’s most harmful nation for environmentalists”.
Because the FARC demobilized in 2016, different armed teams took their place. Vying for management of helpful assets like coca and unlawful mining, and transport routes, these teams intensified their concentrating on of social leaders who have been promoting the implementation of the peace accords of their communities.
Petro and Márquez’s platform acknowledges that girls have suffered in the course of the battle specifically methods. It guarantees to completely implement the peace take care of the FARC, and can concentrate on the agricultural land reform, safety ensures, and environmental protections, which are important for ladies to have the flexibility to earn an revenue and help their households.
Hernández has additionally mentioned that he would implement the peace accord and would search a take care of the Nationwide Liberation Military, the most important leftist guerrilla group within the nation, recognized by its Spanish acronym, ELN. Compared to Donald Trump partly for his controversial comments, together with about ladies’s roles as “ideally…[devoting] themselves to elevating youngsters”, Hernández has nonetheless not detailed how ladies’s distinctive wants can be included on this implementation of the peace course of.
The polls remain tight main as much as Sunday’s vote. Colombians are pissed off by the nation’s ongoing financial disaster, rising ranges of violence, and reducing alternatives. As such, past gender points Petro is campaigning for profound social and economic change, whereas Hernández focuses on post-pandemic growth and anti-corruption.
The broad and pressing wants of Colombian ladies — and specifically Afro-Colombian and Indigenous ladies — may not be essentially on the fore of the upcoming elections, nonetheless, it’s clear that every one Colombians are hoping for change. For the at-risk ladies leaders that I work with, change can not come quickly sufficient.

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