Let's talk about peace. A research on discourses concerning women and peacebuilding in Colombia

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In a large portion of the academic debate, women are perceived to be ideal peacebuilders due to their nurturing nature. This is because of the roles they assume when men leave for conflict, their low key status, being educators of future generations, and their willingness to create peace for the safety and security of their children and communities. This resulted in an international discourse that emphasises that in conflict-affected settings women should be attributed important roles in negotiating peace and post-conflict governance. Interpretations of conflict and the discourses that follow have great consequences for intervening practices. When the international community, including funders and implementers of peacebuilding projects, focuses on a certain perspective in the peacebuilding process which does not correlate with what is necessary at grassroots level, interventions are not as effective as when they better fit to context. The diversity of discourses on women’s roles in Colombia led me to investigate discourses from all actors involved, including the women targeted in peacebuilding projects by a local peacebuilding organisation. In doing so, I learned that there is indeed a discrepancy between the international community, local partners, and the needs of local women. Where intergovernmental organisation UNOCHA portrays Colombian women as victims, I discovered that women's concerns focuses on development issues, having trouble guaranteeing their livelihood and facing gender issues in their local communities. As a result, interventions seem to miss their point, and risk not working on development issues that are important for women. This does not contribute to the effectiveness of post-conflict peacebuilding: real challenges of women are not seen; while their opportunities to contribute are also lost. As a concluding discussion, I recommend the international community and local peacebuilding partner in Colombia CIASE to gain a better understanding of what is necessary in peace-building for Colombian women in order to create a clear and effective direction of intervening practices.
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