6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Land Restitution, Gender Equity, and Rural Development in Colombia

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Change in Panelist: Due to circumstances beyond our control, Dr. Ricardo Sabogal will no longer be able to speak at the event. We are pleased to announce that Adam Isacson, Senior Associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, has joined the program. We are pleased to host a presentation by Donny Meertens, current Wilson Center Fellow and Associate Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, with discussion to follow.

In the wake of decades of violent conflict, forced displacement and violent dispossession of land, Colombia’s Victims and Land Restitution Law (2011) seeks to restore and formalize land rights for those who want to return. The Law is considered an innovative piece of transitional justice as it poses the victims of conflict in the center of state response. Moreover, for land restitution, it provides a series of positive measures to address the historical and conflict-related discrimination that women victims experience when reclaiming their land.  Does the Law accomplish these goals and secure gender-equitable property rights for victims of violence?

This presentation makes a first assessment of the Laws “transformative” potential concerning gender equity and land. It brings together the “land and gender” issues in general and the particular conflict-related obstacles for women to claim land and enjoy property rights. Then it moves towards a preliminary balance of the Laws implementation, based on the revision of a sample of local Court Rulings on land restitution in three different regions, and focused on the ways the obstacles are sorted out.

Conclusions and policy recommendations focus on the achievements and flaws both in the restitution and post-restitution process and stress the issue of sustainability and enhancement of the role of women–land owners in a broader context of rural development and transition towards peace.



  • Donny Meertens

    Associate Professor, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia