The truth, memory and reconciliation commission of Colombian women in the diaspora is an initiative to empower women in the diaspora to become agents of change in the Colombian peace process and in their host countries.
During five decades of armed conflict in Colombia, some 10 million people (20% of the population) have migrated, mainly to neighbouring countries, Europe, the US and Canada.
Some of them have secured refugee status; others have preferred to rebuild their lives without the stigma of the war, thus migrating for work, study, or other purposes.
The role of the Colombian diaspora
The migration experience has equipped the diaspora with skills and a certain world-view that can become fundamental assets in the quest of building a more peaceful, democratic and inclusive society.
At a time when Colombia has embarked in the process of documenting its collective memory to address the violent past, the experience of thousands of people who left the country cannot be ignored.
At the same time, some of these skills and expertise remain unacknowledged and untapped in the host countries, thus complicating the integration process.
This project aims to address four fundamental needs:
- Healing the trauma caused by both the armed conflict as well as the migration process.
- Ensuring the lived experiences of the diaspora community informs the formal truth, memory and reconciliation initiatives in Colombia, notably the work of the future Truth Commission. Read more about the agreement on victim’s rights.
- Improving integration of the diaspora in the host countries.
- Developing an innovative mechanism that addresses the exclusion of women’s voices and experience in peace processes.
Women as agents of change
The project follows a Feminist Participatory Action Research methodology: the combination of academic research, capacity-building and political action, where critical analysis, the situation diagnosis and lived experience become sources of knowledge in a process of empowerment of the participants.
We have specifically focused our efforts on empowering women as agents of change, with the understanding that women experience conflict and migration differently to men, and have therefore had a different set of skills and expertise that too often remain unnoticed.
The activities of this project are framed under two areas:
Documenting the impact of war and of migration on women and the mechanisms they have developed for coping with these traumatic experiences. This involves a collective process of:
- Undertaking individual and group interviews to collect testimonies with a psycho-social healing approach.
- Analysing and reflecting on the testimonies and the project, to challenge misperceptions and develop new concepts and practice on women´s role in peace processes.
- Collating the testimonies and the analytical work into policy documents.
- Disseminating the testimonies by transforming some of them into creative products like stories, photography, documentary and music.
Women's empowerment to influence social, political and cultural processes of change in Colombia as well as in the host countries:
- Creating a safe space for dialogue, learning, and developing mutual aid.
- Training participants on public participation in peace processes, transitional justice and reconciliation, and psycho-social healing.
- Developing strategic alliances with Colombian peacebuilding organisations and formal bodies of the peace process (Gender Sub Commission; Government´s Unit of Victims; National Center for Historical Memory; Truth Commission), to ensure an early policy impact of the project.
- Coordinating activities with organisations and institutions in the host countries to acknowledge the contributions of migrant women, and the support the host countries have offered them.
- Researching similar initiatives in other contexts to inform and compare learning.
The project runs in parallel in four hubs:
- London, which is the leading initiative.
- Stockholm and Barcelona, under the leadership of local organisations.
- Bogota, to support the reintegration of returned migrants.
- Latin America