Taking Stock of Gender Equality in Colombia: An Overview
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This document provides an overview of the situation of women and gender in Colombian society; politics and the economy amidst armed conflict and peacebuilding. It is based on official statistics as well as on data collected by the authors. The document is designed to serve as a point of reference for scholars, policymakers and civil society leaders seeking a broad description of how the situation of women has evolved over the past years in the country. The document finds that, while access to education for women has improved significantly over the past years, women are often at a disadvantage in terms of access to formal labour markets, land and leadership positions. Similarly, while women have played a role in formal politics for several decades and gender quotas have been introduced to foster women’s participation in the formal political arena, there are still significant gaps in the extent to which women are included in political processes and their needs addressed in public policymaking. Much of the progress benefiting women has come from courts that have been progressive, which have protected women’s rights and promoted action to protect women from different sorts of violence. In relation to conflict and peacebuilding, women have been part of illegal organisations at different levels, from low-rank fighters to commanders. At the same time, women figure prominently among the millions of Colombian victims. As a result, gender played an important role in peace negotiations among the former FARC-EP guerrillas and the Colombian state, which was finalised with an agreement in 2016, as well as in the implementation phase. Details of women in the Armed Forces, in illegal organisations and among the population of victims serves to illustrate these points. The document ends with a discussion of how Colombian institutions have approached the task of developing a National Action Plan (nap) and to what extent the country has been seeking to comply with the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda (wps), and with Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs) in relation to peace and gender. In sum, the document shows that full gender equality remains an aspiration in Colombia. However, important steps have been taken to improve women’s access to health and education as well as to roles of leadership in politics and in the judiciary. In the future, these milestones are likely to form a firm base for the continued consolidation of formal and informal institutions fostering women’s empowerment.