Strengthening Women’s Citizenship in the Context of State-Building: The Experience of Sierra Leone


Castillejo, Clare. (2008) “Strengthening Women’s Citizenship in the Context of State-Building: The Experience of Sierra Leone”. Madrid, FRIDE working paper 69

Author: Clare Castillejo


"There is currently great interest in citizenship within development discourse and practice. The development community has come to see citizenship both as a key element of democracy and accountability, and as an important framework to understand “the extent to which poor people are able to participate in the decision-making structures which shape events and outcomes in their own lives”. Feminist scholars have made the case that citizenship is also a useful framework to understand and support women’s struggles for equality, as it reveals how women can influence the institutions, policies and structures that shape their lives. While there are many different definitions of citizenship, one that is perhaps most useful in the context of development and gender equality is that citizenship is made up of access to rights and participation in governance. This is the definition used in this paper. Following the end of the devastating internal conflict there is now a process of state-building underway in Sierra Leone. Within this process new institutions are being created and old ones reformed, and the boundaries of authority between the formal state and customary authorities are being redrawn. This process has profound implications for women’s rights and participation in relation to the formal state, to customary authorities and to their communities, and has the potential to significantly reshape women’s experience of citizenship. This paper explores how state-building processes in Sierra Leone can offer opportunities to strengthen women’s citizenship and influence over the decision-making structures which affect their lives. It will look at the forms of citizenship currently available to women in Sierra Leone, the challenges women face in claiming their rights and participating in governance, and the changes that are being brought about by the strengthening of the formal state. It will also make recommendations for how women’s citizenship can be placed more centrally within the statebuilding process" (Castillejo, 2008, 1).

Topics: Citizenship, Development, Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2008

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