UAE, Albania and Norway alliance speaks out for Colombian women

The UNSC member nations urged equal and meaningful participation of women leaders enacting the Colombian Peace Accord after Ingrid Betancourt announced bid for Colombia’s presidency

The UAE’s ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said Colombia’s postwar economic growth is under threat as women who fought in the conflict still struggle to find a role in the war-torn society. Photo: Screengrab from video

The UAE, Norway and Albania pushed on Thursday for women to play a bigger role in politics in Colombia, where guerrillas and criminal gangs ravage communities despite a 2016 peace deal that nominally ended decades of civil war.

The UAE’s ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said that women who fought in the conflict still struggle to find jobs and play a role in Colombia's postwar society.

“While there's been an increase in women former combatants’ participation in productive projects to support their reintegration, their active and meaningful participation in economic reintegration still faces some challenges,” said Ms Nusseibeh alongside her counterparts from Colombia, Norway and Albania.

“Further progress must be made, given that the economic inclusion and empowerment of women is critical to building economies, which in turn ensures a long-lasting peace.”

Violence in Colombia fell after a 2016 peace deal between the federal government and the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but still-active guerrillas and criminal gangs continue to cause chaos in pockets of the South American nation.

One community activist, environmentalist or human rights activist was killed in Colombia every 60 hours last year, the country's human rights ombudsman Carlos Camargo said this week, amid continued attacks by armed groups.

Women are estimated to have made up 29 to 40 per cent of the country's various Marxist-inspired guerrilla groups, but the UN says they have largely been kept out of peace talks and still struggle for access to jobs, health care and other social services.

Ms Nusseibeh's comments come days after Ingrid Betancourt, a former rebel detainee, announced on Tuesday she was running in Colombia’s coming presidential election.

The French-Colombian politician, 60, was kidnapped by FARC Marxist guerrillas 20 years ago and held captive in the jungle for six years.

Since being freed in a military operation in 2008, Ms Betancourt has spent most of her time in France. Now she says she is back in Colombia to add a female face to a male-dominated election before the first round of voting in May.

Norway’s UN ambassador, Mona Juul, said the three nations — which all hold temporary seats on the UN Security Council — would ensure the 15-nation body pushes for Colombian women to have seats at the table.

“Norway, the UAE and Albania come together under the shared commitment to prioritise the women's peace and security agenda during our terms on the Security Council,” said Ms Juul.

They will use their positions to “urge the full, equal and meaningful participation of women leaders in the implementation of the Colombian peace accord”, added Ms Juul.

The UAE and Albania joined the UN council for two-year terms beginning on January 1, meaning they can take part in meetings, vote on resolutions and help draft official statements. Norway is in its second year in the chamber.

Colombia's internal conflict has stretched over nearly 60 years and caused more than 260,000 deaths.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 4:56 PM