Gender, Governance and Conflicts in Africa

Date: January 19, 2012
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“Civil War is Africa’s self-inflicted wound. More than one African in five lives in a country that is fighting a war, and nearly 20 countries have experienced civil war since 1960. The continuing conflicts that ravage the African continent represent a heavy social and economic burden. During a war, most of the country’s resources tend to be diverted away from development and towards supporting the conflict – War is estimated to cost $1bn per year in Central Africa, without counting the cost of aiding refugees, which is estimated to be about $500m in the region” (Bolle, 2000: 61).”Women’s contributions to war and peace have long been underestimated. In fact, women often contribute to the outbreak of violence and hostilities-in many cases, they are instrumental in inciting men to defend group interests, honour, and collective livelihoods. Women also play a key role in preserving order and normalcy in the midst of chaos and destruction. In times of conflict, when men engage in war and are killed, disappear or take refuge outside their country’s borders, it is women who are left with the burden of ensuring family livelihood. Women struggle to protect their families health and safety-a task which rests on their ability to cope pragmatically with change and adversity. It is therefore not surprising that women are also a driving force for peace” (Sorensen, 1998: iii). “Women’s under-representation or lack of involvement in official efforts at resolving internal state conflicts is taken as a given in most situations. While they often bear the brunt of the war brutalities, and are increasingly involved in combatant activities, they are seldom part of the inner circles of peace negotiations, peace accords, or policies at the formal level to resolve conflict” (Boyd, 1994: 3).


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