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    NewsLatin AmericaClemencia Carabali: "Women have to play an important role in peace negotiations"

    Clemencia Carabali: “Women have to play an important role in peace negotiations”

    Clemencia Carabali Rodallega, Presidential Advisor for Women’s Equality, at the Casa de Narino, Bogota, Colombia, on November 22, 2022.John Philip Rubio

    Clemencia Carabali Rodallega (Cauca, 52 years old) is essentially a survivor. She now serves as Presidential Advisor for Women’s Equity, but she has always been a recognized social leader in northern Cauca, who in 2019, together with Vice President Francia Marquez, survived an attack with explosive devices. Before her, she accumulated almost a dozen death threats as a result of more than 30 years of fighting for her community. Carabali recounts that in her first talks with Marquez, after her victory, she expressed her intention to continue in her territory, but the vice president’s plans were different. Perhaps because she knows the experience of Clemaas she is affectionately called, advocating for women’s rights since she led the creation of the Buenos Aires Women’s Association in the 1990s, a group of 200 women that for years was a benchmark for peacebuilding.

    The appointment took her by surprise, but Carabali decided to take it on because she is confident that it is a space in which she can put her experience at the service of a life free of violence for women and marginalized communities, like the one in which she grew up and for which He has risked his life. The Minister receives EL PAIS in her office in the Presidency, where in the midst of the difficulties inherent to the ‘bureaucracy’ ―which she points out has already given her several “headaches”―, she has consolidated a trusted team that will be her support in one of the many tasks that lie ahead: achieving a real change in the lives of women through real and effective articulation between government entities.

    Ask. What does it mean to you that a black and Caucasian woman is the Presidential Adviser for Women’s Equality?

    Response. For me it is a recognition of the territories that have led the construction of peace for a long time, territories with little integral presence of the State and where we have felt the rigor of war. It is an opportunity to make what we have been working for all our lives a reality, so that we can move towards a society with greater social justice, with greater inclusion. That is what moves me and that is what has me here. Although it is a challenge due to the expectations that exist throughout the country and particularly in our communities, it invites us to work with a strong commitment because we owe it to those communities. We owe ourselves to the illusion of change that people have.

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    Q. What do you think of the racist comments that the vice president, a black woman like you, has received?

    R. They are part of the structural discrimination that exists in the country. Our presence in these spaces and the racism that has been presented against us should set off an alarm, in the sense that these discriminations must be eradicated. Violence against women and against ethnic groups must not be tolerated. It is also an opportunity to review the laws and put an end to impunity. That these speeches have an effective sanction preventing the same thing from happening to future generations.


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    Q. Faced with your new work, what will be the strategic actions of the council to stop violence against women?

    R. The Ministry will have a significant territorial approach due to the implications that the conflict has had on the lives of women, especially in territories with a strong presence of racialized and marginalized women, without this meaning that we are not going to work far and wide. from the country. Likewise, we will have an inclusion approach. There must be the possibility of working with women in their diversity: black, indigenous, from popular sectors, from the academy, from the LGTBIQ+ population, in a condition of disability. Another central focus will be dialogue, agreement, that we can be listening to each other because it is the only way to know the real needs of women.

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    Q. Last week the dialogues between the Government and the ELN were installed in Caracas. How are you going to promote the participation of women in this negotiation?

    R. We have great faith in the three women who are already part of the negotiating team. They are women who know what war means in our country, especially in the lives of women, in our bodies and in our individual, family and community life projects. We trust that your contributions will put those interests in a higher place.

    Q. Precisely to advance in this participation, Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council is key. How is the action plan progressing to implement it?

    R. Hand in hand with the Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Laura Gil, we have made progress so that next year we can present this action plan to the UN, a roadmap for how women will use this tool for peacebuilding exercises. For that, we need to articulate with the institutions and consolidate a team that is present in the ministries to facilitate this work. One of the missions of the Ministry is that: the articulation. We have to ensure the participation of women at all levels, from the most excluded territories to the big cities.

    Q. According to various NGOs, Colombia is the country with the second highest rates of gender violence in the region and records impunity figures of around 90%. What does the Ministry plan to mitigate these alarming figures?

    R. Impunity generates recidivism because there are no exemplary sanctions. There are still numerous barriers to compliance with the law. We aspire that, within the framework of the Pact for the prevention and care of violence against women, together with the entities responsible for guaranteeing women’s rights such as the Prosecutor’s Office and Congress, we can review the laws and identify what is necessary for them to be effective when applying sanctions in serious violations of women’s rights. This implies very strong work with the Ministry of Justice and with the control entities, so that they effectively demand compliance with the law.

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    Q. Former President Ivan Duque left a debt with women: the National Care System. What is your plan to settle that debt?

    R. We aspire for the System to become part of the Ministry of Equality, so we have pushed for the approval of the law that creates that portfolio. Meanwhile, we are studying how that System has to be. It must be inclusive; It is not the same to have a care system in the city, with its infrastructure, than to have it in other territories. This is a challenge, since in our territories we lack roads, bridges, and connectivity. It is necessary to think about how to create a system that takes into account the territorial particularities and those of ethnic peoples. It must be built with the participation of all social sectors.

    Q. What is your reflection for the first 100 days of Government?

    R. It has been 100 days of Government, but 60 of Clemency at the head of the Ministry. For me they have been very hopeful days. I have the illusion that my work contributes to change, to achieve a Colombia world power of life. Personally, it has meant great challenges such as not being with my family, being away from my community and being in a cold and with a rather individualistic society. However, I gave my all for the change and I believe that I can contribute the capacities that we have developed for so long in the exercise of the defense of human rights.

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