Women's Participation in the Consolidation of the Peacebuilding Process

West-Africa
OXFAM
Central African Republic

A Case Study of Batangafo, Bria, Bangui-Begoua and Paoua.

In the Central African Republic, the context of fragility that exacerbates the vulnerability of women has led them to commit themselves to peace building processes, particularly at the community level. This role of activist for peace is strongly anchored in women schemes because as men stir up conflict, women, through their interventions, fundamentally struggle to find solutions that promote peace. This quest for peace can be explained by the fact that women, as mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of combatants, are the ones who bear the full brunt of the harmful effects of armed conflicts. Actually, they wish to preserve their own lives and those of their families.

This qualitative study was funded by the KPSRL. It is the result of a partnership between the University of Bangui and the INGO Oxfam. It was carried out between December 2017 and February 2018. It primarily targeted key informants and women in organized groups. The study focused on 689 people in four urban and rural sites in Bangui-Bégoua, Batangafo, Bria, Paoua, including 486 women and 203 men.

In terms of results, the study showed that women who are involved in peace building processes, are rather young, educated, married or common law partners and belong to all socio-professional categories. They perceive peace not as the absence of war, but rather as a peaceful environment that protects people´s rights, enables them to carry out their economic activities and is conducive to the fulfilment of human rights. Activities women are engaged in include advocacy, awareness raising, prevention and mediation. Sometimes, they are also involved in charitable and social activities.

Women are motivated by both individual interests, such as the need for social empowerment and collective interests, like addressing threats to their communities. They sometimes receive support from their husbands and are encouraged by their families. When organized in associations, they often get technical and financial support from international organizations. Although their work is essential for peace building, its scope is unfortunately limited to their immediate environment, because the linkage is not yet firmly established between women activists at community level and those who perform at a national level.

The study concludes with a number of strategic and practical recommendations to overcome the barriers to women’s participation in the peace building process. If implemented, they will undoubtedly and efficiently contribute to strengthening women’s contribution to peace processes and to promoting greater women empowerment.

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