"The changes that the country needs for peace-building cannot be possible without [recognizing and respecting] differences."From: NewNowNext
After nearly five decades of civil war, the Colombian government is finally moving closer to striking a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which officials say will include measures supporting the equality of women and LGBT people.
Exploratory meetings about a peaceful resolution between the two groups first began in 2011. Over the course of the next five years, the groups underwent extensive peace talks, which culminated in a ceasefire on June 23 of this year.
Once both parties agreed to the ceasefire, they began work on drafting a peace accord with UN officials in Havana.
A preliminary draft of this accord was shared this past Sunday by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Zainab Bangura, the UN’s top envoy for sex abuse in conflict.
As part of the agreement, the language will not only end South America’s last civil war, but will also “create conditions for women and people with diverse sexual identities to be able to access, on equal terms, the benefits of living in a country without armed conflict.”
In a statement, FARC said: “We are aware that the changes that the country needs for peace-building cannot be possible without a society that recognizes and respects differences, and in which stigmatization and gender-biased discrimination remain in the past.”
The agreement tackles this discrimination by increasing support of women’s rights organizations and the LGBTI movement, as well as by making it easier for both groups to obtain farmland.
If the peace document is signed as is, it will mark a historic moment in conflict resolution. As Colombia’s Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin pointed out, “Putting gender in a peace agreement is a first…it has never before been done in [ending] a war.”
Once the government and FARC reach an agreement on the language in the document, it will go to the Colombian electorate for a public vote. Officials believe the groups are just weeks away from striking a final deal.
Since it first began in the early 1960s, the Colombian conflict has left 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and more than 6.5 million displaced.