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Women, Peace and Security, and Gender-Based Violence in Colombia

Women, Peace and Security, and Gender-Based Violence in Colombia

Photo Credit: Rory O’Neill

Ireland opened its Embassy in Colombia in January 2019 but has actively supported peacebuilding efforts in the country since the final stages of negotiation of the Peace Agreement with the FARC in 2016. This has been through a blend of policy and practical assistance, including financial support to the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Peace (UNMPTF) and the EU Trust Fund for Colombia. Irish support to the UNMPTF has focused on women in policing, training local police on how to respond to sexual and gender-based violence and devising innovative ways of reaching and building trust with isolated communities in remote areas affected by the conflict. The project – known as UNIPEP - also trains trainers in this area to enhance its reach and ensure its longer term sustainability.

The results of the project are highly significant in the context of Colombia’s efforts to bring its society together after years of conflict. Nearly 500,000 people in seven municipalities have benefitted from the programme, leading to an increase in reported cases, an important shift in mind-set within the police force and greater demand for training in how to deal sensitively with cases of sexual assault and abuse. Relations between the police and local communities have improved, as has knowledge of gender rights. The police have also gained access to some indigenous communities in Cauca where they had been unwelcome for more than 20 years and vulnerable populations like the LGBTI community and victims of the conflict have greater confidence in the police than before.

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