||The 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords were the result of a long Peace Process that marked the end of a 36-year lasting civil war. These Accords aimed to end violent conflict and reconstruct the country. The majority of individuals involved in this Peace Process were male, but a range of women managed to take part in the Peace Process through both formal and informal channels. This thesis focusses on this formal women’s involvement, where two women were placed on the negotiating teams and a range of women’s organizations formed part of the civil society structure within the Peace Process. Women in Guatemala’s pre-conflict society faced significant barriers to the full exercise of their rights. Openings into the Peace Processes therefore provided women with opportunities to influence the outcome and thereby improve the status of women overall in Guatemalan society.
In recent decades, there has been increasing scholarly attention to the lack of women’s involvement in peace processes, focussing mainly on ways to overcome this lack of involvement. Although further scholarly attention has been set on peace processes as a way for women to advance their status in society, empirical evidence regarding this line of reasoning is often lacking. This thesis aims to fill this gap by undertaking a literature based qualitative research in the form of a within-case study. Various indicators on the status of women in Guatemalan society are compared across time to determine if women’s involvement in the Guatemalan Peace Process has impacted the Peace Agreement and following policies, and in turn has led to changes in the status of the general population of women throughout Guatemalan society.
This research demonstrates that through formal involvement in the Guatemalan Peace Process the status of women has not improved as much as envisioned, but still progress has been made. The findings of this thesis indicate that women in such processes cannot be expected to raise certain topics on the basis of their gender. Furthermore, it demonstrates that women’s participation in peace processes could lead to social transformation, but that the nature and features of such an involvement are limiting or strengthening to the eventual results in terms of women’s status in society. This establishes the need to thoroughly analyse how the nature and features of their involvement can be deployed to maximize the effect of women’s inclusion in peace processes as a way to establish societies with a higher degree of gender equality.