Women and peace building in Kenya's urban slums: a case study of Mathare slums in Nairobi 2007-2012
Kebenei, Mary S
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This study was set to establish the participation of women in peacebuilding activities in Mathare slums, one of Kenya's urban slums, from 2007-2008. The study objective was to investigate if women were involved in peacebuilding in Mathare and to explore the challenges that could have hindered them from performing to their full potential. The study aimed to test two hypotheses namely, women are invaluable participants in peacebuilding in Mathare and patriarchy has been a hindrance to women direct involvement in peacebuilding activities in Mathare. The study utilized a qualitative approach, examining both primary and secondary data. Primary data was obtained through oral interviews conducted with individual informants, focused group discussions and through reports held by Government agencies, International Organizations, Christian Based organizations and Non-Governmental organizations involved in peacebuilding activities in Mathare. Secondary data was obtained from books, articles in journals and internet sources. Purposive and snowballing technique was utilized for this study. In this method, initial subjects with desired characteristics were identified using purposive sampling technique. The few subjects named others whom they knew had the required characteristics using the snowballing technique. The target population was women and men actively involved in peacebuilding in Mathare. Data was captured by use of note taking and the data collected was analyzed and presented qualitatively through narratives and discussions. This study established that women have participated in peacebuilding processes in Mathare slums. The women peacebuilding approaches have been informal and not incorporated into the formal peacebuilding initiatives spearheaded by the Provincial Administration and the external actors like the United Nations and Non-Governmental organizations. Their participation has been at the lowest level of societies revolving round the most basic life daily activities, like eating food, sleeping over and buying groceries from the 'enemy' house and 'vibandas'. Most of this efforts were channeled through trainings and workshops organized by the various women groups established to build peace and empower women economically. The women groups played a critical role in public advocacy for peace through peace marches where the community was called to come out and forgive each other. Community exchange programs were started where families were encouraged to take up children of neighbours friends or family members whose parents were killed during the Post-Election Violence. Inter-ethnic marriages were also advocated by the women of Mathare slums as a way of re-building social relations and trust among different ethnic groups living in Mathare. There was also community mobilization for the construction of shelters for those whose houses had been destroyed during the conflicts. Due to the scope of this study, the researcher could not exhaustively investigate the role of inter-ethnic marriages in re-establishing social networks; there is therefore need for further research on this area.