A growing body of scholarship connects the participation of women and the inclusion of gender provisions to the sustainability of peace settlements. But how do women's groups navigate gender power structures and gendered forms of violence within complex and fragile political bargaining processes aimed at ending large-scale conflict? The 2016 Colombian peace agreement, internationally applauded for its inclusion of strong gender provisions and women's participation as negotiators and peace advocates, is a significant case for examining these questions. Drawing on original case material, including interviews of key actors on different sides of the conflict – this article analyses the political bargaining dynamics within and among women's movements, the Santos government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC). We argue that the inclusion of women was pivotal in transforming the elite bargaining process and power structures of Colombian society enabling a gender-based approach to the substantive peace agenda addressing transitional gender justice for sexual violence survivors and gender-equal redistribution through land and rural reform programmes. The study suggests that deeply situated political bargaining analysis is essential to navigating gender in elite bargains rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to inclusive peace.