Defying Victimhood

Women and Post-conflict Peacebuilding

image of Defying Victimhood
Women are among the most competent, yet marginalized, unnoticed and underutilized actors in efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. Opportunities for sustainable peacebuilding are lost — and sustainable peace is at risk — when significant stakeholders in a society’s future peace and conflict architecture are excluded from efforts to heal the wounds of war and build a new society and a new state. The contributors to this book draw on comparative case and country studies from post-conflict contexts in different parts of world to offer their insights into frameworks for understanding women as both victims and peacebuilders, to trace the road that women take from victimhood to empowerment and to highlight the essential partnerships between women and children and how they contribute to peace. The authors examine the roles of women in political and security institutions.



Young mothers as agents of peacebuilding: Lessons from an early childcare and development project in Macedonia

This chapter focuses on the lessons learned from an inter-ethnic peacebuilding project in the mountains of Macedonia, near the border with Kosovo, carried out in quiet defiance of the ethnic wars in the Balkans. The project, called Lifestart in Emergencies, was created by UNICEF to underpin military and diplomatic peacebuilding efforts in the region with social healing and sustainable community-level conflict resolution processes. Carried out in impoverished, isolated communities where the only sources of income were subsistence farming, timber cutting and smuggling, and where women rarely left the home or spoke to their neighbours, the project attracted little attention during its five years of existence. Further, due to the lack of documentation that characterizes many emergency projects in conflict zones, it now has been largely forgotten, and would not have come to the author’s attention had it not been for her association with the World Bank, which provided some of the initial funding. However, the principles on which it was based – that conflict-affected families of all ethnic groups need support and protection, and that the empowerment of women within families and communities helps in bridging ethnic, religious and political barriers – continue to have a profound influence on the character of ongoing reconciliation efforts in the region.


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