On March 13th, IPI together with the Gender, Justice and Security Hub cohosted a discussion on Women’s Agency in Post-Conflict Reconciliation in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
Women in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Uganda have figured prominently among the victims of war. They also face complex challenges in overcoming the legacies of war, rebuilding their livelihoods and communities, and confronting the horrors of the past. When women feel empowered and have agency, they can become strong advocates and facilitators of reconciliation processes, as well as peacebuilders in their communities.
This event shared research findings on women’s roles in post-conflict reconciliation in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Uganda, as well as potential synergies between women peacebuilders in all three contexts. Despite being “disproportionately represented among the victims of armed conflict,” as highlighted by IPI Women, Peace and Security Head Phoebe Donnelly, women are still too often omitted from peace processes. This comparison of the three cases helped identify opportunities for women to build peace in their countries and promote awareness of these specific contexts.
During the event, Policy Analyst at UN Women Pablo Castillo Díaz, evoked a discussion on the challenges of labelling. Speakers shared their insight on their respective countries:
In Uganda, co-director of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub Josephine Ahikire explained that the use of the term “post-conflict” can be problematic and/or contradictory considering the war ended 40 years ago, and that there are several ongoing conflicts. In many cases there is real conflict, and “post-war” would be more suitable.
In the case of Sri Lanka, “conflict should not be labelled as over until there is rebuilding” stated Visaka Dharmadasa, co-director of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub. She also asserted that women must be part of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process (DDR) and another R should be added for “Rebuilding” (DDRR).
In Colombia, co-director of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub Angelika Rettberg said that people are using the term “post-accord” which has to do with the fact that the country has had over 20 peace processes, including current negotiations to achieve sustainable peace.
The protection, participation and power of women peacebuilders is key for reconciliation and sustainable peace. Read more about the work of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub, and how they amplify the voices of women and marginalized groups here>>
Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute
Kirsten Ainley, Co-principal Investigator of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub and Associate Professor of International Relations, Australian National University
Angelika Rettberg, Co-director of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub and Professor of Political Science at Universidad de los Andes
Visaka Dharmadasa, Founder of the Association of War Affected Women in Sri Lanka and project partner on the Gender, Justice and Security Hub
Josephine Ahikire, Co-director of the Gender, Justice and Security Hub and Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the School of Women and Gender Studies, Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University
Pablo Castillo Díaz, Policy Specialist, UN Women
Phoebe Donnelly, Senior Fellow and Head of the Women, Peace, and Security Program, International Peace Institute