The role of women in post violence peace building in Kenya: a case study of Nakuru county in 2007-2008 post election violence
During the 2007-2008 clashes the perception of women as the victims obscured their role as peacemakers in the reconstruction and peace-building processes. However, grassroots women and women’s organizations initiated dialogue and reconciliation within their villages and communities. The objective of the study was to examine the extent to which women have contributed to the peace building and reconciliation process in Kenya, focusing on the 2007-2008 post election violence. Primary data obtained from peace volunteers affiliated to various NGOs in Nakuru County. These site visits were carried out as follows: meetings with key informant NGO leaders, peace volunteers and government representatives and analysis and validation of findings with research assistant. Instrumentation included use of interviews including key informant interviews, in-depth interviews and focused group discussions (FGD) with the intention of eliciting information and opinions. The data collected was analyzed mainly qualitatively. Discourse analysis was used to analyze written, spoken or sign language. The objects of discourse analysis are variously defined in terms of coherent sequences of sentences, speeches, intonations and repetitions. The findings demonstrate that women have played a central role in the peace building process in Nakuru County despite being marginalized from the structural design of peace building. Women responded to this marginalization by initiating unique peacebuilding mechanisms and making space for themselves during the process of reconstruction. In doing so, they contributed to the overall process of peace building in Nakuru County. In addition, women worked to make known their needs and concerns regarding security, governance, relief and development and reconciliation in Nakuru County. Also, women were active in each of the four peace building areas explored in this study, focusing their efforts on identifying, responding to, and fostering awareness of women’s unique needs and concerns during the post-election violence. Governance and judicial reforms recommend increased gender-awareness, support for women’s participation, and the inclusion of women in all levels of policy and decision-making. Reforms also call for changes that will affect women in particular, that will maximize women’s individual and collective ability to contribute to relief delivery as well as social and economic development post-conflict. Individuals must feel that they can safely step forward to make known human rights infractions, and be protected from reprisal.