Women in war and peace: grassroots peacebuilding

Women in war and peace: grassroots peacebuilding

The crucial role of women must taken into account in any peacebuilding initiative

Many of the efforts under way to sustain peace in countries and regions beset by or emerging from violent conflict are undertaken by grassoots organisations formed by those whose lives are most directly and significantly affected by the conflict . A substantial proportion of these organisations are formed and staffed by women.

On September 14, 1999, the United States Institute of Peace Research and Studies Programme convened a seminar entitled " Perspectives on Grassroots Peacebuilding : The Roles of Women in War and Peace", which drew together more than sixty representatives of the policy commnity, academia, and non governmental organisations . This report draws on presentations and comments made at the seminar and specifically examines the role of women in addressing the issues of conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

The report concludes that:

  • violence and warfare establish, reinforce and exacerbate divisions within communities
  • such divisions cannot be undone wi t hout the active participation of all community members
  • The processes of healing, reconciliation and reconstruciton cannot be effectively implemented by a single group or sector of society acting alone
  • the easing of contentious social divisions requires the conscious contributions and full commitment of all sectors of a society
  • it is important to ensure that the crucial role of women in war- torn societies is not overlooked or dismissed
  • women are essential actors and leaders in grassroots movements especially in times of civil strife
  • women's participation in the quest for peace aids capacity-building in societies threatned by violent conflict
  • by preparing for peace and delegitimizing violence, societies become more resistant to armed conflict and resiliant in the face of challenges
  • the work of NGOs and grassroots movements is often overlooked by governments, policymakers and their advisors
  • the importance of such work must be recognised as the pursuit of peace or the stabilisation of pece agreements is most successful when it reflects the diversity of the entire community

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