U.S. Institute for Peace Holds Women, War and Peacebuilding in Colombia Event


November 1, 2012


In anticipation of the upcoming peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC), the U.S. Institute for Peace will hold a panel discussion entitled Women, War and Peacebuilding in Colombia next Monday. The panel will address the role of Colombian women in the peacebuilding process and question why they have been left out of official peace negotiations.

The panel discussion will be held at 2pm on Monday, November 5 in Washington DC, and will also feature a screening of “The War We are Living,” a 2011 documentary film by CBS News producer Oriana Zill. The film follows the story of Clemencia Carabali and Francia Márquez, two Afro-Colombian women living in the southwestern Cauca region who organize the community of La Toma to resist forcible eviction from their lands. The film is part of PBS’ five-part Women, War & Peace documentary series.

Colombia currently has an internally displaced population of nearly 4 million people. Resource-rich Cauca, home of the protagonists in “The War We are Living,” has been particularly hard-hit by the country’s long-running armed conflict and is a key corridor for drug trafficking. In recent years, Cauca has also garnered the attention of mining corporations and landholders eager to cash in on the region’s mineral wealth.

In the film, Carabali and Márquez speak out for their neighbors in La Toma, an Afro-Colombian community, to contest a claim that ethnic minority communities “do not exist” in La Toma. That claim is made by Héctor Jesús Sarria, who obtained a license to mine the area in 2009 and says that prior consent laws do not apply to La Toma. Meanwhile, the women witness the murders of their neighbors and receive death threats from a group called the Águilas Negras (Black Eagles), but they stand their ground as they fight the eviction order in Colombia’s Constitutional Court.

Aside from film producer and panelist Zill, panelists for Monday’s event include María Emma Willis from the Centro de Memoria Histórica (Center of Historical Memory), Lorena Morales Vidal from the Asociación Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho (Collective Association of Women in Law), and Virginia M. Bouvier from the U.S. Institute of Peace. Kathleen Kuehnast, from the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Center for Gender & Peacebuilding, will moderate the discussion.

Those interested in attending the free panel discussion and film screening can register here. To watch “The War We Are Living” online, follow this link.


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