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Elections

Restrained or Constrained? Elections, Communal Conflicts, and Variation in Sexual Violence

Citation:

Krause, Jana. 2020. “Restrained or Constrained? Elections, Communal Conflicts, and Variation in Sexual Violence.” Journal of Peace Research 57 (1): 185–98.

Author: Jana Krause

Abstract:

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sexual violence varies significantly across cases of election violence and communal conflicts but systematic research is scarce. Post-election violence is particularly likely if electoral mobilization further polarizes longstanding communal conflicts and political elites do not instruct security forces to intervene decisively. I comparatively analyse two prominent cases of post-election violence in Kenya (2007/8) and Nigeria (2008) that exhibit stark variation in sexual violence. Patrimonial networks and norms of violent masculinity that increase the probability of (gang) rape were present in both cases and do not explain variation. Civil war research has identified three explanations for the variation in sexual violence: situational constraints; ordered sexual violence or restraint; and bottom-up dynamics of sexual violence or restraint. I examine these for the context of post-election violence. I argue that the type of communal conflict triggered by electoral mobilization explains variation in sexual violence. In Kenya, pogroms of a majority group against a minority allowed for the time and space to perpetrate widespread sexual violence while in Nigeria, dyadic clashes between similarly strong groups offered less opportunity but produced a significantly higher death toll. These findings have important implications for preventing election violence. They demonstrate that civilian vulnerability is gendered and that high levels of sexual violence do not necessarily correspond to high levels of lethal violence. Ignoring sexual violence means underestimating the real intensity of conflict and its impact on the political process.

Keywords: communal conflict, election violence, Kenya, Nigeria, rape, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Governance, Elections, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Kenya, Nigeria

Year: 2020

Between Despair and Hope: Women and Violence in Contemporary Guyana

Citation:

Trotz, D. Alissa. 2004. “Between Despair and Hope: Women and Violence in Contemporary Guyana.” Small Axe 8 (1): 1–20.

Author: D. Alissa Trotz

Abstract:

The immediate aftermath of the 1997 and 2001 elections in Guyana was marked by violence, most of which targeted members of the Indo-Guyanese community. While far more men than women were directly assaulted in the recent waves of political violence, this essay specifically addresses the violence that women experience as members of racially marked communities and asks three questions: How is gender implicated in racialized electoral violence and community responses to such assaults? How can we account for women's different responses to violence? How might we begin to realistically construct a viable opposition against all forms of violence against women? I begin by outlining some gendered aftereffects of the 1997 and 2001 elections. As a way of making sense of these events, I raise some questions about colonial inheritances and contemporary inequalities in an effort to suggest linkages between pasts and presents, private and public domains. I then explore how women come to symbolize racialized difference, and the investments women themselves may have in such self-other notions, as racialized subjects who are gendered female. The final section draws on the work of Red Thread, a women's organization in Guyana, in an effort to stimulate discussion of antiracist and antiviolence work that centrally acknowledges differences among women. The example is used here not as a final word on the subject but rather as a provisional gesture toward inclusion and conversation.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Governance, Elections, NGOs, Race, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Guyana

Year: 2004

Hybrid Clubs: A Feminist Approach to Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Citation:

Martin de Almagro, Maria. 2018. “Hybrid Clubs: A Feminist Approach to Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 12 (3): 319-34.

Author: Maria Martin de Almagro

Abstract:

Critical approaches to peacebuilding have achieved a local turn wherein alienated indigenous experiences are the cornerstone of emancipatory practices – yet this emancipation of the ‘different’ risks perpetuating the discrimination and normalization of the challenged liberal peace. Using the case study of a feminist campaign to elect more women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this article’s feminist approach to critical peacebuilding utilizes storytelling to develop a conceptual grid that reveals the complexities of the politics of difference, and proposes the concept of the ‘hybrid club’ as a cluster of local and international actors coalescing to develop peacebuilding initiatives.

Keywords: hybridity, gender, Democratic Republic of the Congo, space, embodiment, experience, peacebuilding

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Governance, Elections, Peacebuilding Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2018

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

Citation:

Kumar, Krishna. 2001. Aftermath: Women and Women’s Organizations In Postconflict Societies: The Role of International Assistance. 28. U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC.

Author: Krishna Kumar

Annotation:

Summary: 
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, Women, Gender Roles, 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

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

Citation:

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

Annotation:

Summary: 
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

Finding Women in the Zimbabwean Transition

Citation:

Dendere, Chipo. 2018. "Finding Women in the Zimbabwean Transition." Meridians 17 (2): 376-81.

Author: Chipo Dendere

Abstract:

This essay is a feminist response to the 2017 coup in Zimbabwe that brought to an end Robert Mugabe’s thirty-seven-year on power. Mugabe came into power in 1980 after his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), successfully negotiated for an end to the civil war. The male-dominated ZANU PF has stayed in power because they consolidated power around Mugabe’s leadership. However, as the aging Mugabe became frail and his fifty-two-year-old energetic wife found her political voice, ZANU PF became deeply fractured and was facing electoral defeat in the 2018 elections. Grace Mugabe’s rise to power became the rallying point for ZANU PF to evict their longtime leader. Her fall from power has been used to restrict the voices of women even in this new era of political openness.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Conflict, Governance, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2018

Forging Ahead without an Affirmative Action Policy: Female Politicians in Sierra Leone's Post‐War Electoral Process

Citation:

Abdullah, Hussaina J. 2010. “Forging Ahead without an Affirmative Action Policy: Female Politicians in Sierra Leone's Post‐War Electoral Process.” IDS Bulletin 41 (5): 62-71.

Author: Hussaina J. Abdullah

Abstract:

In contemporary post-conflict Sierra Leone, women have managed to secure 13.5 per cent of seats in parliament – without affirmative action in place, thanks to women’s groups’ and coalitions’ mobilisation and activism. While the political resistance to Sierra Leone having a quota was high, the women’s movement has succeeded in forcing the political parties and the government to recognise that it is no longer politically viable to sidestep women’s rights, should they wish to capitalise on women’s voting power. As women’s organisations, in particular the 50/50 group, continue the struggle to introduce a quota, the challenge for Sierra Leonean women is how to ensure that the quota project is not hijacked by the male-dominated political establishment. To this aim, this article examines the ongoing efforts to politically consciencise women parliamentarians, society and political parties.

Topics: Gender, Governance, Quotas, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2010

Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women's Participation in Peacebuilding

Citation:

Goetz, Anne Marie, and Rob Jenkins. 2016. "Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women's Participation in Peacebuilding." Feminist Economics 22 (1): 211-36.

Authors: Anne Marie Goetz, Rob Jenkins

Abstract:

This contribution reviews international policy and practices to engage women in formal peace talks, post-conflict elections, and economic recovery, and finds a combination of factors contributing to poor performance in promoting women's agency. The fact that the privileged category for post-conflict decisions are those groups capable of acting as “spoilers” has tended to exclude women's groups from the categories considered most important to involve in decision making. Exacerbating this exclusion is the reluctance of international decision makers to encourage affirmative action measures in these contexts. This carries through to the minimal-state approach to economic recovery efforts. Provisions are needed to foster and invite women's voice in decision making, and build more active-state approaches to women's livelihood recovery. 

Keywords: affirmative action, agency, community, development, discrimination, interdisciplinary

Topics: Economies, Governance, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Livelihoods, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Year: 2016

"Go Back and Tell Them Who the Real Men Are!" Gendering Our Understanding of Kibera's Post-Election Violence

Citation:

Kihato, Caroline Wanjiku. 2015. “'Go Back and Tell Them Who the Real Men Are!' Gendering Our Understanding of Kibera’s Post-Election Violence.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 9 (1): 12-24.

Author: Caroline Wanjiku Kihato

Abstract:

Using a gendered analysis, this article examines the post election violence (PEV) in Kibera, Kenya, between December 2007 and February 2008. Through indepth interviews with Kibera residents, the article interrogates how gender influenced violent mobilizations in Kenya’s most notorious slum. Most scholarly analyses have tended to understand the post-election violence as a result of politicized ethnic identities, class, and local socio-economic dynamics. Implicitly or explicitly, these frameworks assume that women are victims of violence while men are its perpetrators, and ignore the ways in which gender, which cuts across these categories, produces and shapes conflict. Kibera’s conflict is often ascribed to the mobilization of disaffected male youths by political “Big Men.” But the research findings show how men, who would ordinarily not go to war, are obliged to fight to “save face” in their communities and how women become integral to the production of violent exclusionary mobilizations. Significantly, notions of masculinity and femininity modified the character of Kibera’s conflict. Acts of gender-based violence, gang rapes, and forced circumcisions became intensely entwined with ethno-political performances to annihilate opposing groups. The battle for political power was also a battle of masculinities.

Keywords: conflict, xenophobia, violence

Topics: Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Governance, Elections, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2015

Women as a Sign of the New? Appointments to South Africa's Constitutional Court since 1994

Citation:

Johnson, Rachel E. 2014. “Women as a Sign of the New? Appointments to South Africa’s Constitutional Court since 1994.” Politics & Gender 10 (04): 595–621. doi:10.1017/S1743923X14000439.

Author: Rachel E. Johnson

Abstract:

The aim of the article is to develop our understanding of the role bodies play in processes of institutional change. It does so through developing an approach to the politics of institutional newness that highlights the way in which raced and gendered bodies can become entangled with claims to, or judgements of, “being new.” These questions are explored through South Africa's Constitutional Court, newly established as part of South Africa's transition to democracy in the 1990s and at the center of the broader claims being made about the creation of a new democratic, nonracial, and non-sexist South Africa. Focusing on judicial appointments to the Constitutional Court since 1994, the article draws attention to the ways in which historically excluded bodies, women and black men, have been included into this new space within the judiciary. It is argued that exploring the ways in which institutions lay claim to “being new” through the bodies of historically excluded groups is important for our understanding of the dynamics of institutional change being constituted.

Topics: Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Constitutions, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Political Participation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2014

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