Published on 6 March by FARC-EP Peace delegation

 

On March 6, two days before International Women's Day, the third (and last) meeting between the Gender sub-Commission (a joint commission of FARC delegates and government delegates, mostly women) and six representatives of women's organizations from Colombia took place.

The official meeting (with plenipotenciaries, guarantor and accompanying countries and UN) lasted until one o'clock, but after lunch the sub-Commission sessioned alone with the representatives for two more hours, to gather ideas and proposals that will help to guarantee a gender perspective in the partial agreements. The five women and one man (representative of the LGTBI community) held a press conference at 4 o'clock. Victoria Sandino, head of the Gender sub-Commission of the FARC-EP, read a document to welcome the representatives:

Havana, Cuba, site of the peace talks, March 6, 2015

The FARC-EP welcomes you with an embrace as expression of affection; we welcome the delegation of the government and the representatives of the guarantor and accompanying countries, as well as the invited representative of UN WOMEN.

We want to tell all the women in Colombia, on the eve of March 8, that peace with social justice is not only a real possibility, but also a tangible reality. We are making a huge effort; we have declared a unilateral cease fire for an indefinite period and that's a testament of our unwavering commitment to peace with social justice.

The Gender Sub-commission is an important scenario for peace with social justice from a women’s point of view. Their active participation in the peace process is not only an obligation, but also a moral duty for those who were invisible for so many years. We are listening to all women in the country; the workers, the feminists, the intellectuals, the inhabitants of the countryside and the city, the victims, the sexual diversity.

«We have come with our heads up, proud, rebellious, purposeful, but above all convinced that the future of our country should be free of war»

We have been witnesses of the pain of the peasants; we have seen whole villages that have been dispossessed, we have seen the large-scale mining and the land hurts us, the country hurts us, Colombia hurts us. We have come with our heads up, proud, rebellious, purposeful, but above all convinced that the future of our country should be free of war. New winds of peace with inclusion and democracy should be given to our prolific and diverse Colombia. You and we are not on opposite sides; we have suffered the conflict from different angles; we share the pain of bloodshed in our country; we are convinced that you and us want the best for Colombia, the best for women, that’s why today we feel hopeful.

We see the struggle for gender equity in the whole world today; on our continent it is growing stronger and this is reflected in parliaments, classrooms, factories and countless scenarios where women assume social, economic and political roles outside the domestic sphere. We feel identified particularly with feminist ideas inspired by the ideals of emancipation of women, together with the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal struggles, as systems of domination that not only exploit the majority socially and economically, but also exclude and violate women.

We understand that during all these years, you have built a formidable social movement forged in the struggles of gender, in the social struggles, in demonstrations, in politics and in resistance, but also in pursuit of creating an own way of thinking, as Colombian, Latin American and Caribbean women.

«A woman whose rights have been violated in the countryside or in the city is more than just a number; it is a reflection of how much we still have to change, until destroying all forms of misogyny and sexism, products of patriarchy»

We have decided to be in this struggle, in which we believe and to which we have dedicated ourselves with autonomy and sacrifice, but also with the joy of knowing that this is a just struggle. Today, with pride and commitment, we raise our voice as political subjects, constructors of present and future, of peace with social justice. We have learned a lot from you. But we also have many things to teach, we know the jungle, we love nature, we know the value of species and biodiversity, but above all, we know the history and the pain of our people, its strength, its joy. Therefore, we invite and encourage you to interchange knowledge with us.

In Colombia, violence against women exists; on a daily basis, we find headlines in the newspapers about feminicides, social crime, domestic abuse, acid attacks, among other numerous and egregious forms of attack against the female gender. To this we can add that if the attacker is linked to the circles of economic, political or religious power, this condition guarantees his impunity in most cases.

We condemn sexual violence as an aggression that has terrible consequences for the person, subjecting him or her to an absolute vulnerability, beyond physical and emotional damage. To report it and express open solidarity with the victims of gender-based violence should break down the indifference, allowing justice to spread to all areas. A woman whose rights have been violated in the countryside or in the city is more than just a number; it is a reflection of how much we still have to change, until destroying all forms of misogyny and sexism, products of patriarchy.

 

We have collected the various proposals that have traveled from Colombia to Havana. We listened carefully to your interventions and initiatives during these hearings, which have been a conquest, with deep interest to share and understand your projects and plans of life. We share the need to give the agreements a perspective of women’s rights and sexual diversity, where the creation, implementation and control of plans and programs are carried out, considering the impact on and the needs of women; it is necessary to explain the free access to land ownership, particularly for rural, indigenous and Afro descendent women with agricultural vocation. In addition, women's organizations should be represented in mechanisms and forums for resolving land disputes.

Special attention should be paid to the exchange of knowledge and successful experiences that facilitate the recovery of ancestral, afro and peasant traditions and practices; to the strengthening of organizational processes of rural women, which should allow their economic, political, social and cultural empowerment. Similarly, steps should be taken to strengthen political participation and special attention should be given to the differential risks women face in order to be able to exercise social and community political participation. Demilitarization of national life is essential, because it undermines democracy and also affects women and communities in general.

The peace agreements do not mean the abandonment of the strategic struggles; on the contrary, the struggle to eradicate capitalism and patriarchy that oppresses all women in the world, continues. This March 8, International Working Women's Day is resistance, it is recalling brave women, the cause and beliefs that drive us to be active political subjects. This date allows us to assess women's empowerment through history, and retake the road of the elimination of the various oppressions produced by the capitalist and patriarchal model, reproduced in State and society. This is the moment to strengthen unity, not only around the gender struggle, but also in favor of a political solution, where mobilization should be a cry of dignity and rebellion.

«Women must become multipliers of the concepts of equity and freedom, no matter which path we take»

The new generations must internalize values ​​that allow reconciliation, respect and tolerance through a pedagogy for Peace, from a new education and academia. Women must become multipliers of the concepts of equity and freedom, no matter which path we take. Our message must be the rejection of violence, and the understanding of the causes that led to the Colombian conflict, so that the history of the oppressed peoples and the victims won’t be forgotten.

This third meeting should not be the last; it should be the beginning of a chain of relationships and discussions, which should become real actions for a National Constituent Assembly. The vision of a new country must be based on the momentum of legal and social mechanisms to prevent, punish and eradicate violence and discrimination against women and LGBTI people.

We work for life, peace with social justice and the welfare of humanity.

Gender Sub-Commission of the FARC-EP

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