Table of contents
2.0 Defining Peace building
2.1 General Impacts of Conflicts on Women
3.0 Reversing the Trend
3.1 Why Women matter in Peace building processes
3.2 Example: The Mano River Project (MARWOPNET)
The period after the Second World War saw a decline in inter-state wars as compared to intra-state wars. Many countries embarked in conflicts within their national borders, contrary to conflicts between states evidenced prior to post world war two periods. These state conflicts mostly centred on resources and poverty, translates to massive amounts of casualties, majority of them being women and children.
In many instances, rape has been the order of the day in which women have been utilized as weapons through rape and other sexual violence. A good example is what was evidenced during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which Tutsi women were raped and killed because of their ethnicity. In Sierra Leone, women have also been victims of the same atrocities. Rwanda is still struggling to recover from the genocide although it is more than a decade past the genocide, indicating that such atrocities take a long time to heal.
Women have not been spared within their societies too. Many cultures in the past centuries, abused and utilized women as labourers and mothers with the main responsibility of bearing children and taking care of the home including acting as custodians of the society’s culture and norms. Although today’s situation cannot be compared to the past, i.e. prior to the first and second world wars, due to the achievements gained, discriminations against women still exists in almost all spheres of their lives in most developing countries. This includes the inner circles of their families to the outer circles of the society. „Gender discrimination continues through political exclusion, economic marginalisation and sexual violence during and after conflicts have occurred, denying women their human rights and constraining their potential for development“ (Strictland/ Duvuury 2003:1).
It is through women’s active participation and involvement that an effective positive change can be enhanced especially on issues of Peace, which is the basis for any developmental activity. Pertaining peace matters, women contribute to Peace building in many ways although their contribution has been overlooked in the past due to the fact that it takes unconventional forms (cp: Strictland/ Duvuury 2003:). They constitute a large part of the society and therefore time has come for their role no longer to be under-estimated. This paper is based on an analysis of the contributions made by women as Peace builders in recent decades, especially after the year 2000 when the Security Council Resolution 1325 was implemented. The exact factor that has caused the remarkable positive change since the beginning of women’s involvement will be analysed. This paper argues that women can bring back remarkable results in Peace building efforts if given the opportunity because in most cases they are the most affected victims during and after violent conflicts. It should be noted however that men have not been entirely secluded, but rather it tries to show how important the role of women can be when they are involved in peace building. Therefore the question that will try to be answered is: Does training and empowerment make women better peace builders? An analytical method will be utilised in which Non-Governmental Organisations reports and projects will be used especially on West African countries like Liberia which is the case study of this paper. The research will include random reports with a brief case study of Liberia although towards the end of this paper, some comparisons will be done. An example of a successful project will be looked at and the factors that has prompted its success.
2.0 Defining Peace building
The term Peace building varies depending on its usage although there are two distinct ways to understand Peace building: Either according to the UN 1999 document: ‘An Agenda for Peace’ or according to the definition preferred by many non-governmental organisations which is more general. According to the ‘Agenda for Peace’ document, Peace building consists of a wide range of activities associated with capacity building, reconciliation and societal transformation. It is a long-term process that occurs after a violent conflict has slowed down (cp. Maiese 2003). Thus according to the UN Peace Agenda document, Peace building is the process that takes place after the Peacekeeping and Peacemaking processes. According to the more general definition adopted and used by many non-governmental organisations, peace building involves „an umbrella concept that encompasses not only long-term transformative efforts but also peacemaking and peacekeeping” (Maiese 2003:1).
According to the UN, Peacemaking is the diplomatic effort to end violence between conflicting parties, move them towards non-violent dialogue, and eventually reach a peaceful agreement. It refers to actions that bring hostile parties to an agreement, essentially through such peaceful means as those foreseen in charter VI of the charter of the United Nations Pacific settlement of Disputes. Peace keeping on the other hand refers to the second phase of the peace process that is distinct from long-term Peace building. It refers to efforts to monitor and observe peace processes that emerge in post conflict situations and assist ex-combatants to implement the peace agreements they have signed (cp.Andelini 2007). Peacekeeping refers to third party interventions, often to assist parties in transition from violent conflicts to peace by separating the fighting parties and keeping them apart (cp. Maiese 2003: 1). Peace building involves all the general processes in the construction of a peaceful environment from prevention to eradication of violent conflicts. „In this view Peace building includes early warning and response efforts, violence prevention, advocacy work, civilian and military peacekeeping, military intervention, humanitarian assistance, ceasefire agreements and the establishment of peace zones“ (Maiese 2003: 1). This paper will adopt the UN Peace agenda definition because of its simplicity and wide acceptance and also because Peace building occurs after the end of a violent conflict which is the target of this paper. Therefore, according to the UN Peace Agenda, the chronological order of the above mentioned terms would be as follows:
Peacemaking - Peace keeping-Peace building.
This process could lead to the achievement of positive peace, a stable social equilibrium in which surfacing of new disputes is avoided from escalating into violence and war. Peace building efforts are made possible by economic sustainability and development. It is characterised by the absence not only of physical violence but structural violence as well as the elimination of discrimination and self-sustainability. “Peace building efforts aim at moving a given population from a condition of extreme vulnerability and dependency to one of self-sufficiency and well being" (Maiese 2003: 1). It is aimed at transforming a population, which has been affected by conflict in the past from vulnerability to self-sufficiency and well being.
Post conflict Peace building tends to differ from long term Peace building efforts because the former tends to involve integration and immediate reconstruction. Long term Peace building on the other hand involves permanence and designed to address concrete underlying issues that brought about the conflict. This is more valuable because it transforms the society towards a more peaceful political and economic participation, peaceful relationship and social harmony and avoidance of future violence. Various methods can be utilised in order to build sustainable peace amongst communities, namely: structuring a desirable economic sustainability, development, self-sufficiency, equitable social structures that meet human needs and building positive relationships (cp.Maiese 2003: 2).
Conflicts are prevented from re-emerging through co-operation and dialogue among different identity groups which may include building institutions that provide procedures and mechanisms for effective handling and resolving conflicts. Examples include „building fair courts capacities for labour negotiations, systems of civil society reconciliation and a stable electoral process“ (Maiese 2003: 2). The creation of such an environment has three central dimensions: Addressing the underlying causes of conflict, repairing damaged relationships and dealing with trauma at individual level.
2.1 General Impacts of Conflicts on Women
Internal Conflicts are a contested incompatibility between a state and internal opposition regarding government or territory where, the use of armed forces between the parties results in at least 25 battle-related deaths per year. Since the end of the Second World War, there has been a steady increase in intra-state conflicts as compared to conflicts between states. Most of these conflicts affected almost a quarter of the countries in the world by mid 1990 and which have taken place in the poor countries leading to increased poverty and suffering. The violent conflicts have not only taken place but have also been longer (cp. Humphreys 2003).
Whenever a conflict breaks up, there occurs a breakdown of order and the rule of law in which random human rights violations are directed mostly towards civilians leading to massive casualties and damage to property. Economic activities are mostly brought to a halt and more catastrophies follow even after its aftermath. This is because during the eruption of a conflict, civilians flee their homes and do not engage in their usual activities like food production causing starvation and food shortages. In most of these conflicts the most affected groups and those who mostly constitute the highest number of casualties are women, girls and children. This vulnerable group is exposed to gender based violence yet women struggle between their double responsibilities of taking care of their young ones, while at the same time trying to rescue the family from the immediate danger facing them. This is common especially in African countries that are affected by conflicts. Women experience conflicts differently from men because they are mostly more vulnerable. However
„Despite a full panoply of Laws protecting women including International Humanitarian laws, Human Rights Laws and Refugee Laws, Women continue to suffer unnecessarily in wartimes because the laws that are meant to protect them are all frequently not respected / and or not implemented“(ICRC 2003:1).