Women in post-conflict peacebuilding: A case study of Mount Elgon District, Bungoma County 1992-2011
Ichani, Francis X
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'Women in Post-Conflict Peace-building' is a study on the commitment of women to bring sustainable peace, social justice, reconciliation and economic development in Mt. Elgon district. The premise of this study is that women as the bearers of the brunt of conflict are more predisposed to effective post-conflict peace-building than their male counterparts. The scope of the study was to determine the involvement of women in Post-conflict Peacebuilding in Mt Elgon district. While in the study I refer to Mt. Elgon district as a larger administrative Unit, the zones of conflict and fieldwork did not cover the whole region. The conflict and subsequent research was centered on the Chebyuk Settlement scheme, Kopsiro and Cheptais divisions which were conflict hot spots and today constitute the newly created Cheptais District. To prevent confusion, specific names are used to refer to conflict hot spots and Mount Elgon is only used when referring to general activities of women in the region. This study does not seek merely to portray women as peace builders but rather to demystify popular patriarchal myths about women and armed conflicts. In the study I argue that women though portrayed as passive victims of conflict are potential peace activists in post conflict society. By virtue of special attributes they are endowed with, they can be turned to be good peace builders, reconciliation agents, and human rights activist if only such stereotypes and shortcomings bedeviling women in post-conflict peace-building industry are overcome. To illustrate these points, the study examines the role of women in peace-building bearing in mind that their roles are predetermined by societal beliefs of what 'men' are an'! 'women' are. The study argues that men's and women's participation in war and peace can no longer be seen as a dichotomy where men are doers, aggressors, and peacemakers while women are passive victims and bearers of the social burden of conflict, a belief that has placed women in obscurity and negated the fact that women are active in reconciling societies devastated by war. The study also argues that the military intervention in Mt. Elgon conflict has offered women a rare opportunity to shatter traditional apportioning of roles and patriarchal definitions of gender that undervalue women's efforts in post-conflict peace building and has opened the door for women to walk beyond these beliefs. The intervention is thus source of impetus for women to revolutionize men's domination on post-conflict peace-building.