Women and Peace Talks in Africa

Authored by: Akin Iwilade

Categories: Peace Support Operations, Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Peacemaking, Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2011
Citation: Iwilade, Akin. "Women and Peace Talks in Africa." Journal of International Women's Studies 12, no. 1 (Jan 2011): 22-37.

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Executive Summary

This paper interrogates the role of women in peace talks in Africa. It addresses the exclusion of women and their peculiar interests from deliberations aimed at constructing a post conflict state framework that resolves the contradictions that incite violent conflict and provides safeguards against recurrence. The paper argues that the failure of peace talks to deliberately incorporate women interests detracts from their potential to effectively confront the questions of post conflict rebuilding. It notes the increasing inclusion of women but argues that this does not amount to gender representation. This is because at the heart of the inclusion is the requirement of female participants to represent non gendered interests of class, ethnicity, religion as the case may be. In the light of this, it is contended that to the extent that their claim to power derives from their social navigation of the structures of power through relationships with men, their representation can only reinforce the very basis of women‟s subordinate status. Going further, the paper challenges the argument for feminizing peace talks in Africa. It considers this as reverse chauvinism and calls instead for incorporation. In concluding, it is contended that peace talks need to be democratized and female representation placed within the broader context of social challenges. This approach will prevent the undue reification of gender-read women- interests with the consequence of heightening the “sex wars‟ in ways that does not add value to democratic incorporation.