Women Building Peace

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This volume looks back at a wealth of women’s peacebuilding practice documented by Accord since 1998. Case studies from Cambodia, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda, Papua New Guinea–Bougainville, Northern Ireland, Angola, Sudan, Indonesia–Aceh and Somalia (presented in the chronological order in which the original Accord issues were published) shed light on what women peacebuilders have done to overcome conflict and the challenges they encountered. The cases reflect women’s practice in particular contexts yet also provide general insights for peacebuilding practitioners and policymakers – insights into what women peacebuilders can achieve and how they can be effectively supported in their efforts.

Consensus and inclusion as a key strategy - A key strategy used by women’s groups is to take a nonpartisan, unified and consensus-based approach to achieve influence. Women in Bougainville and Northern Ireland developed forums and networks as a way to achieve strength through consensus and unity. In Sierra Leone in 1995 the women’s peace campaign put the issue of a negotiated settlement in the public domain in a non-partisan and nonconfrontational manner, combining non-threatening events like prayer meetings to mobilise support with more direct measures like marches and meetings with government. As a result a negotiated settlement became a respectable option for both the government and the rebels without loss of face.

Advancing broader issues of social justice - Inclusion – ensuring that a wide range of perspectives is represented, including marginalised sections of community – is an important factor for sustainable peace. Women’s groups can broaden the range of substantive issues on the table, promoting not just women’s rights but also social justice. Many peace processes prioritise elites and those carrying arms and aim to satisfy their dema demands. Issues key to long lasting, durable peace such as reconciliation, equality and access to land can go unaddressed. Women’s groups can therefore gain legitimacy and support by appealing to a broader constituency; they can also help ensure the interests of a wider section of the community are heard.

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