Gender mainstreaming and conflict management in Africa: the case study of the Igad II Sudan peace process (1994-2006)
Ndonga, Eunice M
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This study aims at drawing attention to the need to incorporate gender mainstreaming in conflict management in order to increase the involvement of women in decision-making processes during conflict management and reconstruction. It presents a survey of the IGAD II led Sudan Peace Process and discusses its mandate and role in bringing peace to Southern Sudan. The study has demonstrated that failure to incorporate gender mainstreaming in peace affects successful peace management and sustainability. The problem of the study has been identified as poor and non inclusive conflict resolution and management processes leading to fragile peace arrangements. The study argues that situation of women in armed conflict and post conflict situations has been systematically neglected, especially where law enforcement is weak and judicial systems are ineffective. Women suffer violence from combatants, family members, neighbours or others, -increasing their susceptibility and vulnerability to myriad of conditions, including HlV/Aids. Further that despite women being heavily affected by the conflict, they are nearly always left out in conflict resolution, management and search for sustainable peace. The study then contends that finding a lasting solution to sustainable peace through a more inclusive system could be the only hope for those affected by the conflicts, both during the conflict situation and in post conflict reconstruction and reintegration. The objectives of the study, theoretical framework, hypothesis, literature review and research methodology are also presented. A detailed analysis of gender mainstreaming or lack of it in the lOAD II Sudan Peace Process has been given to help in testing the hypotheses. The study lays emphasis on the need to include women in the peace process so as to ensure sustainable peace. It uses the feminist approach in its discussion of the term gender as compared to women which has a double advantage in that it puts women into a context, focusing on the socially constructed relation between women and men and by so doing making visible the aspect of power in gender relations. The study has established a number of reasons why women in Sudan continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions even after the signing of the peace accord. Patriarchal traditions, practices and national and customary laws are central factors contributing to women's inability to enter these positions. Further, high levels of illiteracy and poverty, unequal work burdens within their homes and communities are often the result of these patriarch customs, practices and laws and are among the main factors why for instance women and especially leaders formerly associated with fighting forces as well as women civilians have a difficult time accessing the formal political sphere and, thus, why they have correspondingly low representation in decision-making positions, including in peace negotiations and reconstruction activities. Although it is evident from the study that the CPA did create a new democratic political space and committed the government to good governance and the rule of law, justice, equity and respect for human rights, Sudanese women need to rise to the challenge of building a solid foundation for democracy by doing everything possible to increase their political participation and create an equal and level playing field for all citizens. The greatest hope now for women across Sudan is that they will be able to expand on the Bill of Rights in the Interim National Constitution as well as effect change through the midterm elections and effective mobilization. The Sudanese women can use the peace agreements and their shortcomings as important areas for their campaign. This can be used a stepping stone towards increasing their advocacy to have increased representation in legislative assemblies at state and national levels in order to gain more influence. The study has found the lOAD II Sudan peace process did not mainstream gender in its processes and that this lack of inclusion of women in the lOAD II peace process contributed in and hence was responsible for the part failure of the objectives of the process. The study further notes that certain groups of women in Sudan like women formerly associated with fighting forces are even more vulnerable and almost always excluded from accessing public decision forums, including conflict management processes Consequently the research recommends that future conflict management processes need to take into consideration these excluded groups. Although the study has not established clearly whether or not they are among those who could or should play a public role in advocating for more inclusive and just social, political and economic change, it is clear is that they face a daunting task in accessing both public decision making forums and civil society spaces. They however form a critical mass whose role and experiences can inform future peace processes. This is an area that may require further examination.