Throughout history, women have played key roles in bringing peace, maintaining peace and preventing the resurgence of conflict. The same women have preserved the social fabric of communities, secured the livelihood of families and sought the greater good for societies. Regardless, women are mostly affected by conflict. They have also continued to remain absent in decision-making and planning processes in post conflict recovery and reconstruction.
Women of Asia and Africa with a passion for peace and security gathered in Kampala for the 2011/2012 Institute to share stories from the ground on women’s experiences. According to the researches conducted in 11 post conflict countries in Africa and Asia, women’s needs and concerns in post conflict recovery have been neglected. While frameworks such the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 urge Member States to ensure participation of women at all decision-making levels in resolution of conflict and post conflict recovery, this is still far away from reality.
This has resulted in continuous suffering among women. In Central African Republic, research carried out in the town of Bouar reveals the high levels of domestic violence and this is attributed to high prevalence of poverty, trauma and breakdown of social structures. According to the report, 80% of women have experienced some form of violence in their relationships and the majority are illiterate.
In DRC, research carried out in two municipalities of Kadutu and Ibanda in Bukavu shows that several women have been forced to work as porters in mines and construction sites. What is appalling is that these women carry loads much heavier than their body weight and earn less than a dollar. 61% of women porters are married and 24% are widows. The high concentration of married women and widows who work as porters in Bukavu is explained by their roles as household heads following the deaths or inability of their perpetually unemployed husbands.
In Pakistan where women were displaced by floods they have been exposed to sexual and gender based violence and also had to trade sex for food to survive. In Tunisia, the revolution did not spare women. Women became victims of violence and on several occasions they were targeted by police as a means of humiliating their rivals and under the guise of crowd control. Furthermore, because of fear of public shame, women cannot openly talk about their experiences of violence. Nevertheless, according to the research from Tunisia, women have been forgotten in the post revolution recovery processes.
In Uganda, the ADF rebel insurgency heavily impacted on the communities in Kasese and Bundidugyo of the Rwenzori region. Although women were displaced and experienced great suffering, the government has not made any deliberate efforts to assist these women to recover from the devastating effects of war. Women who were abducted and raped during the war are still suffering from the pains especially sexual and reproductive health complications, trauma and poverty. According to the report, 90% of the women who were abducted during the war experienced sexual violence as they were forced to marry, defiled and gang.
In Zimbabwe women were most affected by the economic conflict that resulted in a desperate situation for the country with widespread poverty and a wider gap between the rich and the poor. . In the process of economic recovery and dollarization of the economy women who are mainly involved in the informal sector have been forgotten.
These researches were carried out by participants of the 2011/2012 Isis-WICCE International Exchange Programme Institute. The Institute brings together women from different countries in conflict and post-conflict areas around the world to acquire more knowledge and practical skills to effectively engage and take lead in conflict transformation and peace building.