Central Africa

Peacekeeping, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Abuse and Exploitation


Vandenberg, Martina. 2018.  "Peacekeeping, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Abuse and Exploitation." In The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict, edited by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Naomi Cahn, Dina Francesca Haynes, and Nahla Valji. Oxford University Press. 

Author: Martina Vandenberg


This chapter provides an overview of human trafficking and other forms of sexual abuse committed by peacekeepers and civilians employed in peacekeeping missions. It opens with a historical review of violations committed by peacekeepers and the current international response to the issue. The chapter introduces relevant international legal instruments, including the UN Protocol to Suppress, Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons, and examines the United Nations’ response to various instances of misconduct. Focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic, the chapter details the consistent failure of national courts to prosecute offenders and the inability of the UN to take action beyond repatriating the offenders. The chapter closes with recommendations for the UN to move beyond prevention work to improve enforcement of peacekeeper conduct policies.

Keywords: human trafficking, sexual abuse, peacekeepers, peacekeeping mission, UN Protocol to Suppress, Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, MINUSCA

Topics: International Law, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Africa, Central Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Central African Republic

Year: 2018

Present, yet Unaccounted for: Women's Participation in Civil Society Led Peacebuilding Activities in South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Van Houten, Kirsten. 2020. "Present, yet Unaccounted for: Women's Participation in Civil Society Led Peacebuilding Activities in South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo." Peacebuilding 8 (2): 240-55.

Author: Kirsten van Houten


This paper examines the role of women in local civil society peacebuilding organisations in Bukavu, South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Situating the study in post-liberal peacebuilding theory it examines the questions of whom has an agency to articulate local knowledge and needs in local peacebuilding processes and how. The paper concludes that while local civil society peacebuilding organisations present women with opportunities to participate in peacebuilding processes at the grassroots level, that these organisations do not have the capacity to challenge entrenched power and gender norms.

Keywords: peacebuilding, African women, agency, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2020

Land Policy Reform in Rwanda and Land Tenure Security for all Citizens: Provision and Recognition of Women’s Rights over Land


Uwayezu, Ernest, and Theodomir Mugiraneza. 2011. "Land Policy Reform in Rwanda and Land Tenure Security for all Citizens: Provision and Recognition of Women’s Rights over Land." Paper presented at FIG Working Week, Bridging the Gap between Cultures, Marrakech, May 18-22.  

Authors: Ernest Uwayezu, Theodomir Mugiraneza

Keywords: rights to land, female orphans, land reform policy, land law, inheritance law, land tenure security


In Rwanda, for many years ago, rights over land for women and female orphans were not recognized. The main causes were the inexistence of efficient land administration systems and the prevalence of traditional system of land tenure which were complex and did not favor women and female descendants. In 2004, the Government of Rwanda had adopted a new land policy which was complemented by the 2005 Organic Land Law and a series of laws and regulations with regard to access to land, land management perspectives, and to the modalities of land rights transfer. The main goal of land policy reform in Rwanda is to protect and to enforce land holders’ rights and the provision of land tenure security for all citizens without any discrimination. The study investigates the effects the land policy reform on rights over land for widow and female orphans. Data collected from the field survey in five districts of Rwanda and literature review were analyzed using qualitative and interpretative methods, following the principles of impact/outcome evaluation approach. Findings show that the implementation of a new land policy and associate regulations are having a positive impact in safeguard, protection and enforcement of land rights for widow and female orphans. Widow and female orphans are given back their lands previously grabbed by their relatives. However, there is a need to continuously and widely empower widow and female descendants for defending themselves against practices of land grabbing and/or land deprivation through sensitization and reinforcement of land related laws and regulations in place. 

Topics: Gender, Women, Land Tenure, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2011

Aftermath: Women and Women’s Organizations In Postconflict Societies: The Role of International Assistance


Kumar, Krishna. 2001. Aftermath: Women and Women’s Organizations In Postconflict Societies: The Role of International Assistance. USAID Program and Operations Assessment Report No. 28, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC.

Author: Krishna Kumar


Since the end of the Cold War, intrastate conflicts have increased worldwide. Poverty, the struggle for scarce resources, declining standards of living, ethnic rivalries and divisions, political repression by authoritarian governments, and rapid social and economic modernization—all these factors contribute to intrastate conflicts. All intrastate conflicts share a set of common characteristics that have major implications for women and gender relations. First, the belligerent parties deliberately inflict violence on civilian populations. Second, the intrastate conflicts displace substantial numbers of people, mostly women and children. Third, women’s participation in war contributes to the redefinition of their identities and traditional roles. Fourth, there is usually a conscious attempt to destroy the supporting civilian infrastructure, leading to increased poverty and starvation. Finally, these conflicts leave among the belligerent groups within the countries a legacy of bitterness, hatred, and anger that is difficult to heal.

Both men and women suffer from such conflicts. This study examines specifically the effects on women in six casestudy countries: Cambodia, Bosnia, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, and Rwanda. It looks as well at the rise of indigenous women’s organizations—their role, their impact, their future. Teams from USAID’s Center for Development Information and Evaluation visited those countries during 1999. They found the effects of war on women to fall into three broad categories: Social and psychological. Women often were traumatized by the conflict. After the hostilities, many feared for their physical safety. During the early phases of postconflict transition, unemployed militia continued to pose a serious threat to the lives and property of women and children. Fear of violence and sexual abuse (rape had actually been used as a tool of war, to subjugate, humiliate, terrorize) often kept women from moving about freely. Abject conditions in many postconflict societies contributed to the growth of prostitution.

Economic. A major problem was lack of property rights. Women were denied ownership of land their dead husbands or parents had owned. Rural women who owned no land or other assets worked as laborers or sharecroppers, at minimal wages. Urban women carved out livings mostly by selling foods and household items. During conflict, women could work in many occupations. As ex-combatants returned to civilian life, though, female workers were the first to lose their jobs.

Political. In the absence of men, all six countries witnessed an expansion of women’s public roles during the conflict. Women volunteered in churches, schools, hospitals, and private charities. They often took charge of political institutions, enhancing their political skills—and raising their expectations.

The conflicts created a ripe environment for the emergence or growth of women’s organizations. For one thing, the wars undermined the traditional social order; women found it easier to take part in public affairs. Moreover, governmental reforms after the wars created political space to launch women’s organizations. Another factor was disillusionment. During or in the immediate aftermath of the wars, women’s expectations of increased political participation had risen. Those expectations were never fully realized. Finally, the readiness of the international community to provide assistance to such organizations contributed to their growth.

In the case-study countries, women’s organizations have been active in virtually all sectors: social, educational, economic, political. They have established health clinics, provided reproductive health care, organized mass vaccination programs. They have carried out programs to generate income and employment for women, emphasizing microcredit and vocational training. They have grappled with domestic violence, prostitution, and the plight of returning refugees and internally displaced women. And they have promoted democracy and human rights, supported social reconciliation, and worked to increase women’s participation in political affairs.

International assistance has been important to the development of women’s organizations—and will be far into the foreseeable future. Beyond financial support, international bodies have helped indigenous women acquire managerial, accounting, and technical skills. International assistance has also helped legitimize women’s organizations, for example by sheltering them from government interference.

Attending the emergence of women’s organizations is an array of obstacles. They are social and cultural, imposed from without, and organizational, imposed from within. Chief among the former is women’s low social status. At the family, community, and national levels, women confront a lack of support for their public activities. Another outside encumbrance is the short-term nature of international assistance, which prevents long-term planning. Chief among internal obstacles is the reluctance of women leaders to delegate authority and to train junior staff for future leadership. There is, moreover, a lack of communication and sharing among organizations.

The six individual CDIE country evaluations yielded a number of recommendations aimed at making assistance to women’s organizations more effective. Among them: 
1. Build on women’s economic and political gains. Because the postconflict era provides an opening to build on the progress made by women during conflict, it makes sense for USAID to continue to capitalize on this opportunity. 
2. Pay greater attention to civilian security. USAID can assume a leadership role in publicizing the problem of civilian security and the need for concerted action to protect women. The Agency can also encourage other organizations to carry out programs that can enhance physical security for women.
3. Make concerted efforts with the rest of the international community to prevent sexual abuse of women. Measures might include protecting witnesses, training international peacekeepers in gender issues, and promoting more women to international judicial posts.
4. Promote microcredit. USAID should support microcredit programs but not ignore their limitations. They are not cures for all economic problems facing women in postconflict societies.
5. Support property rights for women. USAID should continue supporting property-rights reforms affecting women. This should include not only constitutional and legislative reforms but also their effective implementation.
6. Consider multiyear funding. The assurance of assistance for periods longer than 6–9 months will help build institutional capacity and boost staff morale.
7. Promote sustainability of women’s organizations. USAID could provide technical assistance, when necessary, to improve management; consider funding a portion of core costs, in addition to program costs, for a limited period; and help organizations become self-reliant by such means as improving skills in advocacy, fundraising, networking, and coalition.
8. Promote greater women’s participation in elections. USAID should consider steps to encourage political parties to field women candidates and assist women candidates on a nonpartisan basis.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Civil Society, Displacement & Migration, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Governance, Elections, Health, Trauma, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Political Participation, Rights, Land Rights, Security, Sexual Violence, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Americas, Central America, Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, South Caucasus Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Rwanda

Year: 2001

The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The World Bank Track Record


Zuckerman, Elaine, Suzanna Dennis, and Marcia E. Greenberg. 2007. The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The World Bank Track Record. Washington, D.C.: Gender Action. 

Authors: Elaine Zuckerman, Suzanna Dennis, Marcia E. Greenberg


This paper is the latest in a Gender Action series underlining the continuing disconnect between World Bank rhetoric on the need for gender equality to reduce poverty, and scarce gender considerations in large Bank investments. Through evaluating World Bank investments in Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PCR) situations including a sample of its large PCR development loans and its small Post-Conflict Fund (PCF) grants, we demonstrate the limited extent to which the world’s largest public development institution meets its own promised objective to “mainstream gender” into all its investments.

This paper belongs to Gender Action’s tradition of holding the World Bank accountable on its unmet gender equality and broader social commitments. Gender Action’s analysis of gender issues in World Bank PCR programs reinforces the findings of our other work demonstrating that Bank loans exacerbate gender discrimination through poverty reduction strategies, policy reforms also known as Structural Adjustment Programs, environment and infrastructure investments. If this pattern does not end, not only will poverty expand but it will continue to feminize in a world where many claim that women already constitute over 70 percent of the poor.

Our paper is structured as follows: Section 2 outlines a conceptual framework to analyze and evaluate the gender dimensions of post conflict work. It suggests three interrelated dimensions for addressing gender within post-conflict reconstruction: (1) women-focused activities; (2) gender aware programming; and (3) social transformation through the promotion of gender equality. Section 3 is the centerpiece of this paper through which we apply the conceptual framework to the Bank’s investments and interventions. It first explains our methodology, and then raises examples. Section 4 reviews the extent to which the World Bank has integrated women-focused activities, gender aware programming and social transformation into important elements of post-conflict reconstruction. Throughout the paper, we recommend genderfocused approaches for building peaceful and equitable post-conflict societies based on examples of World Bank and other donor projects. In Section 5 we conclude with practical recommendations for World Bank PCR to improve its track record on gender both for women and for the families, communities and nations of which they are such an integral part.

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Rwanda, Sri Lanka

Year: 2007

Rethinking Transitional Gender Justice: Transformative Approaches in Post-Conflict Settings


Shackel, Rita, and Lucy Fiske, eds. 2019. Rethinking Transitional Gender Justice: Transformative Approaches in Post-Conflict Settings. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Rita Shackel, Lucy Fiske


This book draws together established and emerging scholars from sociology, law, history, political science and education to examine the global and local issues in the pursuit of gender justice in post-conflict settings. This examination is especially important given the disappointing progress made to date in spite of concerted efforts over the last two decades. With contributions from both academics and practitioners working at national and international levels, this work integrates theory and practice, examining both global problems and highly contextual case studies including Kenya, Somalia, Peru, Afghanistan and DRC. The contributors aim to provide a comprehensive and compelling argument for the need to fundamentally rethink global approaches to gender justice. Rita Shackel is Associate Professor of Law at The University of Sydney Law School, Australia. Her research program is broadly focused on evaluation and reform of legal and social justice processes, with a specific focus on sexual and gender based violence and the needs of victims and survivors especially women and children. Lucy Fiske is Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on forced migration, human rights and gender justice. (Summary from Palgrave Macmillan) 
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction: Rethinking Institutions
Lucy Fiske and Rita Shackel
Part I: Rethinking Institutions
2. The Rise (and Fall?) of Transitional Gender Justice: A Survey of the Field
Lucy Fiske
3. Ebola and Post Conflict Gender Justice: Lessons from Liberia
Pamela Scully
4. Making Clients Out of Citizens: Deconstructing Women’s Economic Empowerment and Humanitarianism in Post Conflict Interventions
Rita Shackel and Lucy Fiske
5. Using War to Shift Peacetime Norms: The Example of Forced Marriage in Sierra Leone
Kiran Grewal
6. More Than a Victim: Thinking through Foreign Correspondents’ Representations of Women in Conflict
Chrisanthi Giotis 
Part II: Rethinking Interventions
7. WPS, Gender and Foreign Military Interveners: Experience from Iraq and Afghanistan
Angeline Lewis
8. Addressing Masculinities in Peace Negotiations: An Opportunity for Gender Justice
Philipp Kastner and Elisabeth Roy-Trudel
9. Recalling Violence: Gender and Memory Work in Contemporary Post-conflict Peru
Jelke Boesten
10. ICC Prosecutions of Sexual and Gender Based Violence: Challenges and successes
Rita Shackel
Part III: Learning from the Field
11. Speaking from the Ground: Transitional Gender Justice in Nepal
Punam Yadav
12: Quechua Women: Agency in the Testimonies of the CVR - Peru Public Hearings
Sofia Macher
13. The Effects of Indigenous Patriarchal Systems on Women's Participation in Public Decision Making in Conflict Settings: The Case of Somalia
Fowsia Abdulkadir and Rahma Abdulkadir
14. ‘Women Are Not Ready to [Vote for] Their Own’: Remaking Democracy, Making Citizens after the 2007 Post-election Violence in Kenya
Christina Kenny
15. ‘An education without Any fear?’: Higher education and Gender Justice in Afghanistan
Anne Maree Payne, Nina Burridge and Nasima Rahmani
16. Transitioning with Disability: Justice for Women with Disabilities in Post-war Sri Lanka
Dinesha Samararatne and Karen Soldatic
17. Conclusion
Rita Shackel and Lucky Fiske


Topics: Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Education, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Indigenous, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Peru, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

A Scoping Review of the Health of Conflict-Induced Internally Displaced Women in Africa


Amodu, Oluwakemi C., Magdalena S. Richter, and Bukola O. Salami. 2020. "A Scoping Review of the Health of Conflict-Induced Internally Displaced Women in Africa." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (4): 1-21. 

Authors: Oluwakemi C. Amodu, Magdalena S. Richter, Bukola O. Salami


Armed conflict and internal displacement of persons create new health challenges for women in Africa. To outline the research literature on this population, we conducted a review of studies exploring the health of internally displaced persons (IDP) women in Africa. In collaboration with a health research librarian and a review team, a search strategy was designed that identified 31 primary research studies with relevant evidence. Studies on the health of displaced women have been conducted in South- Central Africa, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and in Eastern, East central Africa, and Western Africa, including Eritrea, Uganda, and Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. We identified violence, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and malaria and as key health areas to explore, and observed that socioeconomic power shifts play a crucial role in predisposing women to challenges in all four categories. Access to reproductive health services was influenced by knowledge, geographical proximity to health services, spousal consent, and affordability of care. As well, numerous factors affect the mental health of internally displaced women in Africa: excessive care-giving responsibilities, lack of financial and family support to help them cope, sustained experiences of violence, psychological distress, family dysfunction, and men’s chronic alcoholism. National and regional governments must recommit to institutional restructuring and improved funding allocation to culturally appropriate health interventions for displaced women.

Keywords: internally displaced women, scoping review, women's health, Africa, health

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, IDPs, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Households, Livelihoods, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Côte D'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2020

Conditional Protection? Sex, Gender, and Discourse in UN Peacekeeping


Jennings, Kathleen M. 2019. "Conditional Protection? Sex, Gender, and Discourse in UN Peacekeeping." International Studies Quarterly 63 (1): 30-42.

Author: Kathleen M. Jennings


How do peacekeepers operating in Haiti, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) discursively construct the local people, especially local women, and to what effect? I show a connection between peacekeepers’ representations of local people, articulated in discourse, and the gendered, often sexualized interactions and transactions in peacekeeping sites. Gender plays a central role in peacekeeper discourse. It situates the peacekeeper outside, and superior to, the chaotic, dysfunctional, feminized local. At the same time, a close reading of peacekeepers’ representations of local people disrupts idealized notions of peacekeeper masculinity as protective and benign, which still persist in peacekeeping circles, revealing it as something more vulnerable and brittle. The connection between discourse and (non)performance of peacekeeping duties is neither causal nor straightforward, but I argue that peacekeepers’ discursive constructions of locals affect how peacekeepers interpret their mandate to protect civilians: protection becomes conditional on peacekeepers’ perceptions of locals’ appearance, affect, behavior, and their ability to act out an idealized role as someone “worth” protecting. The article thus brings new insight to our understandings of gender, masculinities, and protection failures in peacekeeping.


Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Peacekeeping Regions: Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia

Year: 2019

'A Real Women Waits’ – Heteronormative Respectability, Neo-Liberal Betterment and Echoes of Coloniality in SGBV Programming in Eastern DR Congo


Mertens, Charlotte, and Henri Myritten. 2019.“‘A Real Women Waits’ – Heteronormative Respectability, Neo-Liberal Betterment and Echoes of Coloniality in SGBV Programming in Eastern DR Congo.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 13 (4): 418-39.

Authors: Charlotte Mertens, Henri Myritten


Drawing on archival and field research, this article critically examines the production and distribution of gender roles and expectations in SGBV programming, in particular in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We find the underlying currents in some of these programmes reinscribe heteronormativity and focus on individual betterment which resonates with regulating gender and sexuality during colonialism. In some cases, strongly western-inspired norms of individual agency have been introduced, disregarding structural constraints of people’s lives. To conclude, we explore alternative approaches to SGBV prevention, ones in which international approaches are re-defined and vernacularized for local use – but which also at times inform global understandings.

Keywords: sexual violence, SGBV, Congo, interventions, gender, colonialism, humanitarianism

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Humanitarian Assistance, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2019

War, Women, and Power: from Violence to Mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina


Berry, Marie E. 2018. War, Women, and Power: from Violence to Mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Marie E. Berry


Rwanda and Bosnia both experienced mass violence in the early 1990s. Less than ten years later, Rwandans surprisingly elected the world's highest level of women to parliament. In Bosnia, women launched thousands of community organizations that became spaces for informal political participation. The political mobilization of women in both countries complicates the popular image of women as merely the victims and spoils of war. Through a close examination of these cases, Marie E. Berry unpacks the puzzling relationship between war and women's political mobilization. Drawing from over 260 interviews with women in both countries, she argues that war can reconfigure gendered power relations by precipitating demographic, economic, and cultural shifts. In the aftermath, however, many of the gains women made were set back. This book offers an entirely new view of women and war and includes concrete suggestions for policy makers, development organizations, and activists supporting women's rights. (Summary from Cambridge University Press)
Table of Contents:
1. War, Women, and Power
2. Historical Roots of Mass Violence in Rwanda 
3. War and Structural Shifts in Rwanda 
4. Women's Political Mobilization in Rwanda 
5. Historical Roots of Mass Violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina 
6. War and Structural Shifts in Bosnia-Herzegovina 
7. Women's Political Mobilization in Bosnia-Herzegovina 
8. Limits of Mobilization 
9. Conclusion


Topics: Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Governance, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Post-Conflict, Political Participation, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Rwanda

Year: 2018


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