Leaders against All Odds: Women Victims of Conflict in Colombia


Restrepo, Elvira Maria. 2016. “Leaders against All Odds: Women Victims of Conflict in Colombia.” Palgrave Communications 2 (May): 1–11. doi:10.1057/palcomms.2016.14.

Author: Elvira Maria Restrepo


In the current high-profile conflict within Colombia, women account for the majority of civilian victims. It has been argued that the inclusion of women in peace-building processes may help increase the scope and sustainability of the subsequently achieved peace. However, most women victims of conflict (WVCs) achieve public visibility simply because of their suffering, not because of their potential as sources, initiators and agents of peace. In contrast, this article argues that WVCs represent a hitherto uncharted piece of the peace-building puzzle. In particular, this study explores the ways in which some WVCs are overcoming their own victimhood and emerging as leaders in peace-building, despite the significant personal risks associated with the on-going violence: who better to help heal and empower victims and reconcile society than those who have suffered trauma themselves—and risen above it? The article draws its primary evidence from extensive personal interviews, ethnographic work and data on women victims in Colombia. Against all odds, these unsung WVC leaders have proven to be powerful agents of change: capable of healing, empowering and even reconciling broader society. This article is published as part of a thematic collection on multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives on gender studies.

Keywords: development studies, social policy

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2016

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.