Through two Colombian case studies, Sanne Weber identifies the ways in which conflict experiences are defined by structures of gender inequality, and how these could be transformed in the post-conflict context.
The author reveals that current, apparently gender-sensitive, transitional justice (TJ) and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) laws and policies ultimately undermine rather than transform gender equality and, consequently, weaken the chances of achieving holistic and durable peace. To overcome this, Weber offers an innovative approach to TJ and DDR that places gendered citizenship as both the starting point and the continued driving force of post-conflict reconstruction.
This chapter describes how both survivors and ex-combatants express a feeling of being second-class citizens, because of the lack of basic state services. Their citizenship practice has also changed over time, from active or even radical to passive. This is reinforced by the ways in which Colombia’s reparation and reintegration function. These processes prioritize the handing out of short-term support, on the condition of attending meetings and signing attendance sheets. This turns people into passive recipients dependent on ineffective state support, rather than promoting their long-term capacities to improve their own lives, through citizenship skills. This diminishes the transformative potential of these processes and reinforces gender stereotypes.
This chapter deconstructs the ways in which gender is conceptualized in reparation and reintegration processes in Colombia, and understandings of gender as women risk neglecting structural gendered inequalities in the public and especially the private sphere. It shows the effects of the strategy commonly used by both state institutions and accompanying civil society and international organizations, of offering ‘women’s projects’ to compensate for otherwise gender-neutral programming. These projects do not necessarily respond to the needs of women, nor do they promote the redistribution of resources or gender roles. Instead, their lack of success and sustainability tend to create exhaustion and frustration. The chapter thus shows how well-intended efforts at gender trainings and ‘women’s projects’ can actually have counterproductive effects, by weakening women’s organizational efforts and hampering their agency. This eventually weakens practices of active citizenship, and fails to train women with political skills to demand their rights based on their own needs.
This chapter engages with the politics of victimhood, providing a gendered analysis. It describes the rigid binaries between victims and perpetrators in transitional justice, and how this actually plays out in communities that were affected by conflict. The chapter uncovers how victim hierarchies are performed in different ways and with diverse goals by both victims and perpetrators. The emphasis on sexual violence during the conflict in Colombia risks excluding other gendered narratives of conflict, especially those of agency. The recognition of these experiences of agency could in fact be an important tool for transforming gender inequality through building active citizenship. Drawing on insights from social identity theory, the chapter suggests how citizenship as an overarching identity could replace victim and perpetrator identities which hamper genuine transformation and reconciliation.
This chapter contextually situates the research in this book. It identifies the root causes and main (gendered) effects of the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia and gives a historical overview of transitional justice and DDR processes in the country, and how these have come to be seen as global examples of how to ‘do’ peacebuilding. A gendered analysis is given of these processes, and particularly of the 2016 peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC. The chapter also introduces the locations on Colombia’s Caribbean coast where the research took place, describing the ethnographic and participatory methodology used and some of the ethical challenges encountered in the research process.
This chapter describes gender roles of survivors and ex-combatants before, during and after Colombia’s conflict. Rather than understanding ‘gender’ solely through the lens of sexual violence, it instead focuses on the everyday experiences of conflict and post-conflict lives, and how these are defined by structures of gender inequality. The chapter describes how conflict disrupted traditional gender relations, producing emancipatory experiences for women in both groups, as well as changes in models of masculinities. Such changes could be building blocks for post-conflict gender equality. Unfortunately, the chapter also identifies the continuities of structural gendered inequalities and traditional female roles in the post-agreement situation. It specifically zooms in on women’s participation in community structures during and after conflict, as well as their own organizational spaces. Such organizational processes could provide building blocks for active citizenship.
The introduction lays out the book’s conceptual and theoretical framework, giving the reader an overview of the main fields and debates that the book engages with. It briefly describes the developments in thinking about transitional justice and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the connections and tensions between reparations and reintegration, which are crucial elements of the broader peacebuilding paradigm. The chapter then offers a gendered analysis of these fields, and introduces the connection with the concept of citizenship as a way of making often vague approaches to gender justice more transformative and practically feasible. It describes Nancy Fraser’s model of trivalent justice as an approach to connect citizenship with gender justice, which enables gendered transformation in post-conflict contexts.
This chapter describes women’s hopes for the future and the importance of education, work and organizational processes among women to achieve these goals. It contrasts women’s dreams with their stark realities, in which the ‘baby boom’ among former FARC guerrillas and the spike in adolescent mothers in former IDP communities have meant that motherhood and oppressive masculinities remain key obstacles to a stronger practice of active citizenship for women. It zooms in on the importance of organization as a crucial element for enabling reparations and reintegration to be more effective at transforming gender inequality and promoting women’s citizenship. Practices of active citizenship could make women less dependent on their husbands or on projects provided by the state or international organizations. Economic and political independence could in turn help to transform gender inequality in a more sustainable way.
The Conclusion discusses how reparations and reintegration, as part of wider peacebuilding approaches, can fare better at promoting post-conflict gender equality by redefining an active and gender-equal practice of post-conflict citizenship for both men and women. It draws on Nancy Fraser’s model of trivalent justice to map out how, instead of ‘adding women’, the building of a practice of active citizenship could be more effective in transforming gendered inequalities at different levels. Citizenship should therefore be central to gender justice. The chapter finishes with some practical recommendations for policymakers to implement this gendered citizenship perspective into transitional justice.