Ambassador’s Remarks at Social Pastorate Event
The Role of Women in Peacebuilding
Monsignor Henao, Ambassador Milton, community leaders, distinguished guests, thank you for the opportunity to present some opening reflections on behalf of the United States, on the important topic of women in peacebuilding.
Let’s start with the good news. Thanks to the hard work of women leaders like you, Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord set a global standard for integrating commitments to women’s equality. Of the Peace Accord’s 578 commitments, 130 relate specifically to gender.
These commitments prioritize the participation of women and LGBTI persons in Peace Accord implementation bodies, guarantee their equitable access to Peace Accord benefits, and ensure that transitional justice institutions conduct comprehensive investigations into sexual and gender-based violence and its role as a driver of the conflict.
It comes as no surprise to me that Colombia is placing women at the center of the peacebuilding process. Many of the most iconic and courageous figures of hope and resilience to emerge from the conflict have been women, including well-known figures like Ingrid Betancourt and the Mothers of Soacha.
On Monday, the Secretary of State recognized Mayerlis Angarita as one of the winners of our International Woman of Courage award. After losing her own mother to forced disappearance, Mayerlis has helped other women conflict victims find healing in storytelling through her organization, “Narrate to Live.”
But here’s the not-so-good news. According to the Kroc Institute, which works with Social Pastorate and other partner organizations to monitor implementation of the Accord, implementation of the gender commitments continues to lag 11 percent behind implementation of other commitments.
As the Kroc Institute signaled in a recent report, short-term implementation delays could have a cascading impact over the long term. For example, to overcome poverty, and close the gap in opportunities between rural and urban areas, Colombia must simultaneously close the opportunity gap between women and men. I encourage you to work with the Government of Colombia to prioritize implementation of the gender commitments in the Accord.
For example, it will be essential to ensure that the territorially-focused development programs, or PDETs, benefit women entrepreneurs in the areas most affected by the conflict. Projects could focus on women’s equitable access to land titles and markets for their products.
The Peace Accord presents a generational opportunity to address many of the drivers of the Colombian conflict that have limited this great country from realizing its full potential. One of the most important drivers has been the absence of state institutions from many rural areas, an absence that has allowed illicit economies and illegal armed groups to maintain a foothold. But the drivers also include structural inequalities that have limited the potential of women, especially rural, Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and Venezuelan migrant and refugee women, and made them targets of violence.
As we celebrate Colombia’s progress in putting women at the center of peacebuilding, let us redouble our commitment to ensuring we meet the ambitious goals Colombia has set for itself in the Peace Accord to advance women’s equality. The United States government and the American people stand with you in this important effort.