Uniting for Peace: The Role of Venezuelan Women in Bridging Divides and Fostering Democracy

Over the past twenty years, Venezuela has been embroiled in a crisis characterized by political polarization, economic hardship, and a humanitarian emergency that has forced over 7 million people to leave the country. This polarization stems primarily from the tension between the sectors of society that support the national socialist and Bolivarian administrations and those advocating for independence or are in opposition. The political turmoil has significantly distinctly impacted Venezuelan women and girls, highlighting issues such as heightened poverty among women, limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, barriers accessing justice and receiving support in cases of gender-based violence, and obstacles to political participation. 

Although there have been numerous dialogue attempts between the government and the opposition since 2002, including the treaty of Barbados, none have been effective in achieving a sustainable solution to the country’s crisis – generating mistrust and a lack of credibility between both parties.  

The composition of the negotiating parties also raises concerns. Where overall, the formal, and informal dialogue and negotiations are marked by a lack of women’s inclusion. Only two out of nine members of the Unitary Platform – the united political opposition in Venezuela – and four out of nine members of the Government representatives are women. Furthermore, the negotiations have also been characterized by their distance from civil society actors and their inability to address the perspectives and priorities articulated by Venezuelan women from across the civic and political spectrum. This coupled with little attention for inclusion and a low appetite to change makes for an unsustainable peace process.  

A unified front for peace 

Against this backdrop, the Venezuelan civil society organization – Women for Dialogue and Peace in Venezuela – Grupo de Mujeres por el Diálogo y la Paz de Venezuela (MDPV) has played a fundamental role in expanding democracy in Venezuela.  

Together with more than 20 women from various political backgrounds, they reached a consensus on over 30 commitments that agreed to defend the rights of women in Venezuela and push for continued dialogue between the Unitary Platform and the Government together. Moving from ‘From Partners in Conflict to Partners in Peace.’

Through this agenda, the group actively seeks inclusion in discussion groups with the objective of including their visions and perspectives in the search for solutions to the country’s crisis and, thus, contributing to the fulfilment of women’s rights in the process of building peace in Venezuela.  

The case of Venezuela underscores the importance of creating networks and partnerships among women, especially considering the current context of polarization. MDPV set a significant precedent by demonstrating that, despite high political division, building trust and reaching agreements is possible when collective objectives are found. These women, with diverse ideologies and backgrounds, uniting around a common goal – guaranteeing women’s rights and promoting peace in the country.   

One of the participating women shared: 

We understood that we must put aside our interests as people, even our ideologies, and put what unites us all at the center. 

Their ability to put aside their differences and work together for the common good becomes an inspiring example for their country, showing how dialogue and trust can transcend political divisions and generate concrete solutions amid a complex crisis.    

Not sitting still   

The MDPV are steadily continuing their work – working nationally to create a united front of women across Venezuela. The group is building on the relationships created throughout the initial phase of the Rapid Response Window (RRW) of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian fund and is travelling across the country to foster new connections, stimulate dialogue, and promote peace in Venezuela.   

All the women that MDPV has connected with along the way will come together in June for a large summit. The first of its kind. Where the diverse group of women will come together to consolidate their regional plans and ideas to create a national voice and front promoting the role of women in peace. Diverse, not only in political colours, but from lawyers to nurses, from young to senior, from urban to rural, and indigenous women from the Amazon and from the mountain regions of Venezuela.   

Part of a larger effort  

This story is one of three case studies that NIMD has worked on as part of our work on women, peace and security in Latin America. This project is supported by the Rapid Response Window (RRW) of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund who we have been fortunate to collaborate with since June 2021. 

NIMD is proud to present these powerful narratives from women in Venezuela, Colombia, and Guatemala, showcasing their resilience and dedication to sustainable peace. At NIMD, we are committed to advancing women’s involvement in politics, decision-making, and peacebuilding to foster more inclusive and peaceful democracies worldwide. Despite international resolutions like UNSC 1325 advocating for women’s roles in peace processes, challenges remain, where structural barriers and gender-based violence limit women’s participation. 

Through our experiences and collaborations with partners, we have recognized the importance of establishing safe environments for women to share ideas and formulate common agendas, celebrating the diversity among women.  

But how did NIMD start working with MDPV?    

Our guiding principles of impartiality and local ownership are central to supporting the dialogue process of MDPV in Venezuela. These core principles also play a central role in the RRW programming, which supports the work of MDPV in Venezuela.  

A unique fund   


Women’s persistent marginalization across the different spaces and phases of peace processes called for a meaningful investment in women’s participation before, during, and after peace negotiations. The RRW Window Fund was specifically designed to support the work of women peacebuilders and women-led civil society organizations. These organizations require flexible and rapid financing to adapt their programmes to the context rather than rigid multi-annual funding structures.   

Through the RRW, NIMD can directly support these organizations and informal networks of women working on peace initiatives.  With our support, the organizations can programme organically and adapt their programming when necessary, overcoming the limitations of traditional funding structures. This structure in turn allows us to reach grassroots groups that are structurally underfunded.