Women's Political Participation and Influence in Post-Conflict Burundi and Nepal


Falch, Åshild. 2010. “Women's Political Participation and Influence in Post-Conflict Burundi and Nepal.” PRIO Paper, Peace and Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Oslo.

Author: Åshild Falch


Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000, there has been growing international recognition of women’s role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. However, while implementation of Resolution 1325 is taking root at the international strategic and policy levels, worldwide experience shows that there remain significant barriers to the full integration of a gender perspective in peace and post‐conflict processes at the country level. For instance, women’s participation in peace negotiations continues to be limited, and women remain underrepresented at all levels of decision‐making during the crucial post‐conflict reconstruction period.

Based on case studies of two countries that recently emerged from armed internal conflict − Burundi and Nepal − this report examines one fundamental aspect of Resolution 1325: the provisions to increase women’s participation in post‐conflict decision‐making. While Burundi and Nepal display many differences, the two countries present interesting similarities in terms of achievements and challenges in relation to involving women in decision‐making following the end of armed conflict. For example, women in both countries have traditionally been barred from access to public and political life, and during the Burundian and Nepali peace processes no woman took part in the formal negotiations in either country.

This marginalization notwithstanding, Burundi and Nepal stand out in their efforts to advance women’s involvement in national politics following the end of armed conflict. Introduction of mechanisms for affirmative action prior to the first post‐conflict elections in each of the two countries led women to obtain close to one‐third of the seats in their respective legislatures. Women in civil society have also been heralded for their mobilization and efforts throughout the peace and post‐conflict process in both countries, and women’s organizations have been an important driving force behind women’s engagement in political life and the promotion of provisions stipulated in Resolution 1325.

These positive achievements, however, should not blind us to the many remaining challenges that impede women’s effective participation in decision‐making in Burundi and Nepal. Even though women’s representation in political institutions has substantially increased, entrenched patriarchal norms, gender inequality and discriminatory practices continue to limit the ability of women to participate in and influence political decision‐making in both countries. And although women’s organizations have been an effective arena for women’s participation in peacebuilding and policy‐ related activities, their political influence, sustainability and diversity are imperilled by a lack of political will and insecure and inflexible funding regimes.

Drawing on information gathered through interviews with key actors in Burundi and Nepal, this report goes beyond merely numerical aspects of women’s participation in decision‐making, revealing both progress made and the obstacles that remain for women’s effective participation in post‐ conflict political processes. By identifying cross‐cutting issues in Burundi and Nepal, the report also presents general lessons about the prospects and problems of increasing women’s political participation, which lay the ground for a set of recommendations for how national and international actors may support and promote women’s participation in post‐conflict political decision‐making both in Burundi and Nepal and in other similar cases.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Burundi, Nepal

Year: 2010

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