The Evolving Role of Traditional Birth Attendants in Maternal Health in Post-Conflict Africa: A Qualitative Study of Burundi and Northern Uganda


Chi, Primus Che, and Henrik Urdal. 2018. "The Evolving Role of Traditional Birth Attendants in Maternal Health in Post-conflict Africa: A Qualitative Study of Burundi and Northern Uganda." SAGE Open Medicine 6: 1-9. doi: 10.1177/2050312117753631.

Authors: Primus Che Chi, Henrik Urdal


Objectives: Many conflict-affected countries are faced with an acute shortage of health care providers, including skilled birth attendants. As such, during conflicts traditional birth attendants have become the first point of call for many pregnant women, assisting them during pregnancy, labour and birth, and in the postpartum period. This study seeks to explore how the role of traditional birth attendants in maternal health, especially childbirth, has evolved in two post-conflict settings in sub-Saharan Africa (Burundi and northern Uganda) spanning the period of active warfare to the post-conflict era.
Methods: A total of 63 individual semi-structured in-depth interviews and 8 focus group discussions were held with women of reproductive age, local health care providers and staff of non-governmental organisations working in the domain of maternal health who experienced the conflict, across urban, semi-urban and rural settings in Burundi and northern Uganda. Discussions focused on the role played by traditional birth attendants in maternal health, especially childbirth during the conflict and how the role has evolved in the post-conflict era. Transcripts from the interviews and focus group discussions were analysed by thematic analysis (framework approach).
Results: Traditional birth attendants played a major role in childbirth-related activities in both Burundi and northern Uganda during the conflict, with some receiving training and delivery kits from the local health systems and non-governmental organisations to undertake deliveries. Following the end of the conflict, traditional birth attendants have been prohibited by the government from undertaking deliveries in both Burundi and northern Uganda. In Burundi, the traditional birth attendants have been integrated within the primary health care system, especially in rural areas, and re-assigned the role of ‘birth companions’. In this capacity they undertake maternal health promotion activities within their communities. In northern Uganda, on the other hand, traditional birth attendants have not been integrated within the local health system and still appear to undertake clandestine deliveries in some rural areas.
Conclusion: The prominent role of traditional birth attendants in childbirth during the conflicts in Burundi and northern Uganda has been dwindling in the post-conflict era. Traditional birth attendants can still play an important role in facilitating facility and skilled attended births if appropriately integrated with the local health system.

Keywords: traditional birth attendants, post-conflict, maternal health, childbirth, health system

Topics: Health, Reproductive Health, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Burundi, Uganda

Year: 2018

Women's Organizations and Peace Initiatives


Tripp, Aili Mari. 2018. "Women’s Organizations and Peace Initiatives." In The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict, edited by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Naomi R. Cahn, Dina Francesca Haynes, and Nahla Valji, 430-441. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Author: Aili Mari Tripp


Women’s peace movements in the post–Cold War era frequently share three common characteristics: a grassroots and local focus due to exclusion from formal peace negotiations; an early and sustained commitment to bridging differences between factions; and the use of international and regional pressures to create success on the local level. This chapter reviews each of these characteristics through case studies. Examples from Sri Lanka, Somalia, and Nepal illustrate the successes and challenges of grassroots or local peace movements led by women. Peace processes in Burundi, led by women activists, exemplify a commitment to unity across ethnic lines. The chapter concludes with examples from Liberia and Sierra Leone, demonstrating the efficacy of international and regional organizations supporting local peace movements.

Keywords: women's peace movement, peace process, women activists, grassroots peace movement, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Nepal, Burundi

Topics: Civil Society, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, International Organizations, Post-Conflict, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes Regions: Africa, East Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Burundi, Nepal, Somalia, Sri Lanka

Year: 2018

New Institutions, New Gender Rules? A Feminist Institutionalist Lens on Women and Power-Sharing


Mackay, Fiona, and Cera Murtagh. 2019. “New Institutions, New Gender Rules? A Feminist Institutionalist Lens on Women and Power-Sharing.” feminists@law 9 (1).

Authors: Fiona Mackay, Cera Murtagh


This article examines the apparent tension between power-sharing as the dominant approach to conflict settlement and the inclusion of women and provisions for gender equality as promoted through the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We argue that applying a feminist institutionalist (FI) lens - which attends to the interactions between political and social institutions, and the interplay between formal and informal rules, norms and practices - provides a means of explaining the so-called ‘gendered paradox of power-sharing’, including the gap between the promise of formal frameworks and outcomes for women in practice. We draw upon extant feminist research on three post-conflict power-sharing cases: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, and Burundi. Using the concepts of: nested newness, formal and informal institutions, the gendered logic of appropriateness, and gendered actors, we illuminate why it has been so difficult for the gender progressive institutional innovations to be instantiated. In so doing, we answer the call of Byrne and McCulloch (2012) for more systematic analysis and theorising around the gendered paradox of power-sharing, and we also provide a basis for identifying what institutional mechanisms might be needed to embed the inclusion of women and the integration of the WPS norms in power-sharing frameworks in the future.

Keywords: power-sharing, feminist institutionalism, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, women, peace and security

Topics: Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, East Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, United Kingdom

Year: 2019

Achieving a Gendered Transformation of the Post-Conflict Military through Security Sector Reform: Unpacking the Private–Public Dynamics


Wilén, Nina. 2020. “Achieving a Gendered Transformation of the Post-Conflict Military through Security Sector Reform: Unpacking the Private–Public Dynamics.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 22 (1): 86–105.

Author: Nina Wilén


Reforms of the post-conflict military are often part of a broader security sector reform (SSR), focusing on public state institutions in the security domain. The military, as a traditionally masculine institution, has been targeted for reforms related to gender integration and mainstreaming in order to make it more democratic and representative. Yet, while these efforts have partly succeeded in making gender issues essential to the military, I argue here that in order to achieve a gendered transformation of the military and erase the gender hierarchy, it is necessary to move focus beyond the public sphere and into the private to examine how these are mutually dependent. I illustrate this point through examples taken from interviews with soldiers from national armies in two countries that have experienced wide-ranging reforms following conflict: Burundi and South Africa. I identify three societal borders policing women in the private sphere, which have an impact in the public sphere: resistance to women in the army, women as primary caregivers, and men’s perceived superiority over women. The examples show how a gendered transformation needs to collapse borders between public and private in order to make visible gendered forms of exclusion and discrimination in the military.

Keywords: gender, military, security sector reform (SSR), private/public distinction, women

Topics: Combatants, Economies, Care Economies, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Post-Conflict, Security Sector Reform Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Burundi, South Africa

Year: 2020

Women- and Youth-Focused Peacebuilding Networks in Burundi


Ngubane, Senzwesihle, and Patrick Kanyangara. 2018. "Women- and-Youth-Focused Peacebuilding Networks in Burundi." In Local Networks for Peace: Lessons from Community-Led Peacebuilding, 11-20. New York: International Peace Institute.

Authors: Senzwesihle Ngubane, Patrick Kanyangara

Keywords: peacemaking, nongovernmental organizations, reconciliation, political conflict, civil society, economic coordination mechanisms, international cooperation, political security, peacetime


"This case study focuses on the experiences of two local networks in Burundi that are undertaking work in the areas of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. These networks focus on two stakeholders considered critical during a country’s post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding phases: women and youth. Whether it is the United Nations with its renewed focus on conflict prevention through “sustaining peace” or the AU’s governance architecture, the international community seems to largely agree that any process to advance peacebuilding requires specific engagement of women and youth. The networks chosen for this case study are the Réseau des organisations des Jeunes en Action pour la paix, la réconciliation et le développement (the Network of Youth Organizations Working for Peace, Reconciliation, and Development, or REJA), a network of organizations dealing with issues affecting youth, and the Association Dushirehamwe, a women’s network. Their programs focus largely on peacebuilding, conflict resolution, human rights, development, and social cohesion. Both networks seek to reposition their respective target groups—women and youth—as drivers and agents of change in Burundi, thus enabling them to find solutions to their own challenges rather than being led by external actors. These networks, like others currently operational in Burundi, find themselves working in a sociopolitical context that is both challenging and unpredictable. The relationship between the government, some of its international partners, and internal stakeholders, in particular some of the opposition political parties, is vexed. The two networks were selected as case studies on the basis of their ongoing engagement with youth and women from different political, social, and economic backgrounds who are actively contributing to peacebuilding and development at the local and national levels. The information on their organizational structure and activities was collected through desk research and key informant interviews conducted with the networks’ leaders and field staff. The case study outlines the genesis of these two networks, including their working modalities, programs, activities, and engagements, but without aiming to compare their work. It concludes with some recommendations for networks operating in Burundi, directed to other network organizations, as well as to international actors, including donors" (Ngubane and Kanyangara 2018, 12-13).

Topics: Age, Youth, Civil Society, Conflict Prevention, Conflict, Gender, Women, International Organizations, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacebuilding Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Burundi

Year: 2018

(De-)Politicising Women’s Collective Action: International Actors and Land Inheritance in Post-War Burundi


Saiget, Marie. 2016. "(De-)Politicising Women’s Collective Action: International Actors and Land Inheritance in Post-War Burundi." Review of African Political Economy, 43 (149): 365-81.

Author: Marie Saiget


This article focuses on women’s collective action promoting land inheritance in Burundi. It aims to discuss the role of international actors in social transformations, questioning to what extent they have shaped women’s collective action since the 1970s, in particular since the country’s president took the official decision to stop the legislative and political process for adopting a law in 2011. The article argues that international actors are a central factor in (de-)politicisation by playing the role of a third party in the relationship between women’s associations and the state. These interactions produce a particular form of mobilisation that promotes law as a tool to build, frame and provide answers to the land issue.
Cet article traite de l’action collective féminine sur la succession des femmes à la terre au Burundi. Il interroge le rôle des acteurs internationaux dans les transformations sociales de l’après-guerre, en se demandant dans quelle mesure ces derniers ont influencé l’action collective féminine depuis les années 1970, et en particulier depuis que le président burundais a pris la decision de mettre fin au processus politique et législatif d’adoption d’une loi sur la succession. L’article montre que les acteurs internationaux sont un facteur central de (dé-)politisation en jouant le rôle de tiers dans la relation entre les associations de femmes et l’État. Ces interactions produisent une forme particulière de mobilisation qui promeut le droit comme outil de construction, de cadrage et de résolution de la question foncière.

Keywords: women's collective action, land inheritance, International actors, politicisation, Burundi, action collective féminine, succession à la terre, acteurs internationaux, politisation

Topics: Gender, Women, International Organizations, Post-Conflict, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Burundi

Year: 2016

Sexual Violence in Burundi: Victims, Perpetrators, and the Role of Conflict


Dijkman, Nathalie E. J., Catrien Bijleveld, and Philip Verwimp. 2014. “Sexual Violence in Burundi: Victims, Perpetrators, and the Role of Conflict.” HiCN Working Paper 172, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton.

Authors: Nathalie Dijkman, Catrien Bijleveld, Philip Verwimp


In this paper we shed light on sexual violence in Burundi in the aftermath of its civil war. By presenting the results of a mixed-method research we discuss five topics: prevalence of sexual violence, a profile of victims, a profile of perpetrators, sexual violence’s relation to civil war and its current legal reactions and challenges. By means of multivariate regression analyses we predict women’s vulnerability to sexual- and gender based violence (GBV) in the context of war compared to everyday life. We find that age, schooling, living in an IDP camp and household wealth before the civil war have significantly different effects on GBV in both contexts. Many uniformed and armed men committed sexual violence during the war, and it appears that today ex-combatants and military continue to do so. From qualitative interviews we find several factors that connect Burundi’s past conflict to today’s violence, among which a weakened solidarity in communities and a problematic integration of excombatants in society. Impunity marks life in today’s Burundi, in particular in relation to persisting sexual violence. A thorough reconciliation or adjudication process since the civil war, as well as today’s difficulties to prosecute and pursue perpetrators, are among the main challenges for countering sexual violence in Burundi.

Topics: Age, Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Class, Combatants, Male Combatants, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Education, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Impunity, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Burundi

Year: 2014

Gender and Mobility in Africa: Borders, Bodies and Boundaries


Hiralal, Kalpana, and Zaheera Jinnah, eds. 2018. Gender and Mobility in Africa: Borders, Bodies and Boundaries. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan.

Authors: Kalpana Hiralal, Zaheera Jinnah



This volume examines gender and mobility in Africa though the central themes of borders, bodies and identity. It explores perceptions and engagements around ‘borders’; the ways in which ‘bodies’ and women’s bodies in particular, shape and are affected by mobility, and the making and reproduction of actual and perceived ‘boundaries’; in relation to gender norms and gendered identify.  Over fourteen original chapters it makes revealing contributions to the field of migration and gender studies. Combining historical and contemporary perspectives on mobility in Africa, this project contextualises migration within a broad historical framework, creating a conceptual and narrative framework that resists post-colonial boundaries of thought on the subject matter. This multidisciplinary work uses divergent methodologies including ethnography, archival data collection, life histories and narratives and multi-country survey level data and engages with a range of conceptual frameworks to examine the complex forms and outcomes of mobility on the continent today. Contributions include a range of case studies from across the continent, which relate either conceptually or methodologically to the central question of gender identity and relations within migratory frameworks in Africa. This book will appeal to researchers and scholars of politics, history, anthropology, sociology and international relations. (Summary from Palgrave MacMillan)
Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction: Gender and Mobility in Africa: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives - Hiralal, Kalpana
  2. Why Were the Women Left Behind? Chinese and Indian Migration in the Indian Ocean Region: A Historical Perspective - Hiralal, Kalpana
  3. The Migration of Women in Tunisia: Between Tradition and Modernity - Bouchoucha, Ibtihel
  4. (Re)negotiating Gender Identity Among Zimbabwean Female Pentecostal Migrants in South Africa - Chimbidzikai, Tinashe
  5. Migration, Mobilities and Families: Comparative Views Amongst Congolese, Burundian and Zimbabwean Female Refugees - Rugunanan, Pragna (et al.)
  6. Negotiating Culture and Responses to Domestic Violence in South Africa: Migrant Women and Service Providers’ Narratives - Kiwanuka, Monica
  7. ‘Who I Am Depends on Who I Am Talking To’ - Oliveira, Elsa (et al.)
  8. Between Prosecutors and Counsellors: State and Non-state Actors in the Rehabilitation of Victims of Human Trafficking in Nigeria - Ikuteyijo, Lanre Olusegun
  9. Crossing Borders, Present Futures: A Study of the Life Histories of Pakistani Immigrants in Durban - Rai, Sasha
  10. Senegalese Migrants in Morocco: From a Gender Perspective - Ait Ben Lmadani, Fatima
  11. Mobile Women: Negotiating Gendered Social Norms, Stereotypes and Relationships - Matshaka, Sarah
  12. Social Control in Transnational Families: Somali Women and Dignity in Johannesburg - Shaffer, Marnie
  13. Concluding Thoughts and Pathways for Future Research - Jinnah, Zaheera



Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gender Roles, Women Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Burundi, Congo-Brazzaville, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Year: 2018

Producing Participants: Gender, Race, Class, and Women, Peace and Security


Martin de Almagro, Maria. 2017. "Producing Participants: Gender, Race, Class, and Women, Peace and Security." Global Society. doi: 10.1080/13600826.2017.1380610.

Author: Maria Martin de Almagro


Recent efforts to implement the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and the creation of National Action Plans (NAPs) in post-conflict countries have resulted in a set of international policy discourses and practices on gender, peace and security. Critics have challenged the WPS agenda for its focus on “adding women and stir” and its failure to be transformative. This article contributes to this debate by showing that the implementation of the WPS agenda is not only about adding women, but also about gendering in racialised, sexualised and classed ways. Drawing on poststructuralist and postcolonial feminist theory and on extensive fieldwork in post-conflict contexts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi and Liberia, the article examines the subject position of the woman participant. I demonstrate how NAPs normalise certain subject positions in the Global South while rendering invisible and troubling others, contributing to (re)producing certain forms of normativity and hierarchy through a powerful set of policy practices. Deconstructing such processes of discursive inclusion and exclusion of troubled representations is essential as it allows for the identification of sites of contestation and offers a better understanding of the everyday needs and experiences of those the WPS agenda regulates.

Topics: Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Peace and Security, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Race, Rights, Women's Rights, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia

Year: 2017

An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries


Graham, Jay P., Mitsuaki Hirai, and Seung-Sup Kim. 2016. “An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries.” PLOS ONE 11 (6): e0155981. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155981.

Authors: Jay P. Graham, Mitsuaki Hirai, Seung-Sup Kim



It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) must leave their home to collect water, putting them at risk for a variety of negative health outcomes. There is little research, however, quantifying who is most affected by long water collection times.


This study aims to a) describe gender differences in water collection labor among both adults and children (< 15 years of age) in the households (HHs) that report spending more than 30 minutes collecting water, disaggregated by urban and rural residence; and b) estimate the absolute number of adults and children affected by water collection times greater than 30 minutes in 24 SSA countries.


We analyzed data from the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) (2005–2012) to describe water collection labor in 24 SSA countries.


Among households spending more than 30 minutes collecting water, adult females were the primary collectors of water across all 24 countries, ranging from 46% in Liberia (17,412 HHs) to 90% in Cote d’Ivoire (224,808 HHs). Across all countries, female children were more likely to be responsible for water collection than male children (62% vs. 38%, respectively). Six countries had more than 100,000 households (HHs) where children were reported to be responsible for water collection (greater than 30 minutes): Burundi (181,702 HHs), Cameroon (154,453 HHs), Ethiopia (1,321,424 HHs), Mozambique (129,544 HHs), Niger (171,305 HHs), and Nigeria (1,045,647 HHs).


In the 24 SSA countries studied, an estimated 3.36 million children and 13.54 million adult females were responsible for water collection in households with collection times greater than 30 minutes. We suggest that accessibility to water, water collection by children, and gender ratios for water collection, especially when collection times are great, should be considered as key indicators for measuring progress in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.

Topics: Age, Youth, Gender, Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Health, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

Year: 2016


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