Truth Seeking and Gender: The Liberian Experience

Authored by: Anu Pillay

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Peace Accords, Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Country: Liberia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2009
Citation: Pillay, Anu. "Truth Seeking and Gender: The Liberian Experience," African Journal on Conflict Resolution 9, no. 2 (2009): 91-9.

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Executive Summary

Conflict is highly gendered, that much we know. That men and women experience conflict differently and that women’s experience of the conflict is shaped by the status of women in the country prior to the conflict, we also know. However, the question remains: how is truth gendered and how does attention to gender influence truth-seeking in a post-conflict situation? Following Liberia’s intensely violent conflict that ravaged the country for 14 years, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Accra, Ghana, in 2003 made provision for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This was an attempt by the negotiators to include an accountability mechanism acceptable to all warring factions. The peace talks had already witnessed thirteen stalled attempts to end the conflict. It is important to note here that Liberian women played a critical role in bringing the warring factions to the negotiation table, as well as in applying pressure during the process for the agreement to be signed. But despite their activism women were nonetheless excluded from the formal peace talks and only a select few participated as observers.