Women's Leadership, Peace and Sustainable Livelihoods in the DRC and Region, 1-2 July 2014
Presentation Summaries


Balghis Badri, Professor and Director, Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies (IWGDS), Ahfad University for Women, Sudan.

Sudanese Women Diverse Voices and Leadership within a Muslim Context

The focus of the presentation is to highlight the diversity of defining feminism and women movement in Sudan. The diversity in discourses is a continuum of what can be defined as feminist vision for transformation to achieve what or through what mechanisms. A continuum between wide differences and components of solidarity around certain issues specifically so as to gain more rights and open more spaces such as increasing representations in decision making positions in legislatives, executive and political parties bodies. Changes in certain family and criminal laws are aspects around which divergent standpoints of women are manifested. The success they achieved is in areas of embarking in more numbers in media, business, civil society and higher education. Their resistance to be moulded in one image/identity and representation which the Islamist government that came to power in 1989 through a military coup, wanted to impose on all Sudanese women is to be commended. Hence main issues to be discussed are feminisms in Sudan, diverse representation among women groups, Islamic, Islamism and liberal discourses. Challenges and threats that faced that path will be highlighted.

Helen  Hintjens  & Serena Cruz, Erasmus University, International Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands.

Imagining Sustainability in a Context of Sexual Violence and  Forced Labor in Eastern DRC

In the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict mineral trading and sexual violence intersect at the juncture of forced labor. The nexus of these enmeshed realities can better be understood through the lens of gender and community. Specifically, how sexual violence is a symptom of a wider political economy of coercion affecting whole communities. Women from communities in eastern DRC have emerged and maintained informal positions of leadership. Yet these roles are  seriously complicated by  long-­‐term  historical practices of enslavement spanning from the time of Leopold. This paper argues that forced labor practices retard efforts to promote women’s leadership, redress sexual violence, and ultimately obstruct peace and security measures by the international community. Based  on  interviews  in  eastern  DRC  with  men  who  rape  and  agrarian  women leaders, this study connects practices of sexual violence to the political economy of forced labor and explores the implications of both on the leadership aspirations of women.

Annie Matundu Mbambi, President of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in DR Congo.

The role and participation of Congolese women in the monitoring and implementation mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region.

The efforts carried out to find solutions to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lead to the signature of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region on 24 February 2013 in Addis-Abeba. Nomination as United Nations Special Envoy to the Great Lakes regions of Central Africa, Mary Robinson supports the idea that women are key players to promote the return of peace and to consolidate state authority. This presentation will focus on the main challenges facing the participation and role of Congolese women, as stakeholders, at all levels of the process implemented to establish peace in the DRC. Women must ensure that decision makers are liable for the follow-up to the recommendations that stemmed from this agreement, so as to make them applicable on the ground.

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin & Marie O'Reilly, International Peace Institute, New York (IPI)

Time to Re-Set the Table: Women in Peace Talks Around the World

From the dinner table to the boardroom table, women’s participation in decision-making processes is increasing in societies around the world. But the peace table still lags behind. Despite UN Security Council resolutions and ample rhetoric, just 9% of delegates in formal peace processes are estimated to be women, and women make up just 2% of high-level mediators. It seems that the quality of peace itself may be suffering as a result. What effect could a more inclusive peace table have on the peace process and on the sustainability of peace that follows? What are the obstacles to increasing the participation of women and civil society in peace processes, and how can they be overcome? Initial research shows that broader participation at the peace table isn’t just about rights and norms: it’s about operational effectiveness—improving security and building a lasting, quality peace.

Aili Mari Tripp, Professor, Political Science and Gender & Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Women and Power in Post-Conflict Africa

The talk is based on my current book project, which looks at a gender-related consequences of the decline of major conflict in 17 countries in Africa over the past 20 years. It explains why post-conflict countries in Africa have significantly higher rates of women’s political representation compared with countries that have not undergone major conflict. It also looks at why these countries tend to have been more open to passing legislation and making constitutional changes relating to women's rights. It shows how and why the post conflict countries have adopted a distinct trajectory compared with non-post conflict countries, recognizing that from the point of view of activists, this trajectory is still too slow and fraught. The talk is based on comparative research across Africa as well as fieldwork in Uganda, Liberia, and Angola.

Thomas Turner, Amnesty International USA, DRC Country Specialist (author of Congo)

DOES YOUR CELL PHONE CAUSE RAPE?  International campaigns and dangerous oversimplifications"

The Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered from a variety of disasters, but a common thread has been the tendency of outsiders to define the country on their own terms and act accordingly. The current campaigns against conflict minerals and sexual violence are only the latest examples of this tendency. King Leopold II claimed to be bringing civilization and combating the Arab slave trade, as he seized Congo’s wealth. In the 1960s, the US claimed to be keeping Congo and its minerals out of the hands of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, political scientists, journalists and other experts proclaimed Congo to be a “collapsed state,” a condition that could justify foreign intervention and even partition. The World Bank called the conflicts in DR Congo since the 1990s civil wars, ignoring invasions by Rwanda and Uganda. Some on the left argue that events in the Great Lakes are "imperialism," according to which regional actors including Rwanda and Uganda were mere puppets of the United States. In my view the Congo wars were neither civil wars nor interstate wars but a complex blend of the two. The latest such oversimplification, imposed by outsiders, concerns conflict minerals, mass killing and sexual violence. The Congo war is the bloodiest since World War Two, and the country is the “rape capital of the world”. However, there is a magic bullet that can put an end to the atrocities and that is banning “conflict minerals”. In recent weeks, it has been reported that most of the mines in eastern DRC are no longer controlled by warlords or militias, yet the level of rape and sexual violence remains high. 


Mayesha Alam, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

Women and Transitional Justice: Lessons from Bangladesh and Kenya

How can transitional justice institutions provide due diligence to the lived experiences of women during war and violent political upheaval? How can transitional justice provide redress to women for harms suffered? How can transitional justice help transform unequal gender relations post-conflict? Providing a compelling case for greater sensitivity towards the needs of women and increased efforts to promote women's participation in transitional justice initiatives, Alam presents theoretical and conceptual analysis alongside case studies on Kenya and Bangladesh. These two cases are starkly different in design and implementation but both provide important lessons on how to improve the practice of transitional justice institutions and elevate the status of women in conflict-affected and post-conflict societies.


Dr. Roisin Burke, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

Criminal Prosecution, Troop-Discipline and Sexual Offences by UN Military Peacekeepers

Complicity by UN military peacekeepers in sexual abuse and sexual exploitation (SEA) has been well documented over recent years. In response to the dilemma the UN has undertaken a number of initiatives and reforms in attempting to eradicate such abuse. These measures, to some extent, have taken two different trajectories given the different legal status of the various categories of UN personnel. SEA by UN military peacekeepers has therefore been dealt with separately by the UN to similar conduct by UN officials and experts on mission. This to a large extent is due to jurisdictional concerns. This paper will focus on accountability of UN military peacekeepers for SEA. It will examine some of the measures taken to counter SEA by military peacekeepers. Possibly one of the most significant measures undertaken aimed at strengthening accountability of UN military personnel was the revision of the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Troop-Contributing States [revised MOU]. This paper will examine the revisions to the MOU in light of their potential impact on criminal accountability. It will be argued that this reform does not go far enough. The fact remains that SEA is ongoing across civilian and military components of UN peace operations. It seems TCCs remain reluctant to hold their soldiers to account. There still exists a perception of impunity at host State level, which undermines UN operations and the ability to achieve mission mandates. In parallel with measures taken to deal with SEA by military personnel, the UN established a Group of Legal Experts (GLE) to explore the legal aspects of criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission. A number of comments will be made on aspects of the GLE’s report and other measures that could be taken to move beyond the current status quo.

Sarah Creedon, LLM candidate, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway Presentation Title: The Role of Consent in the International Crime of Rape

In prosecutions of the crime of rape within many domestic jurisdictions, the focus is on the breach of the bodily autonomy of the victim, and lack of consent is consequently often found within the definition of the crime. International prosecution of rape, however, presents distinctive challenges; armed conflict is often also present, and rape in such contexts is often used as a weapon of war, perpetrated on a large and systematic scale, and accompanied by egregious levels of violence. The scale and level of violence may be such that it can arguably negate any genuine consent on the part of the victim. This poses questions as to the suitability of its inclusion as an element of the crime of rape, and whether it should play a role at all.
This paper explores how international criminal law has grappled with the inclusion of consent
within the definition of the crime of rape. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda initially adopted a creative approach and removed consent entirely, focusing, rather, on surrounding coercive circumstances. However, subsequent judgments of the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia have seen the emergence of a conflict between the two approaches. Issues which have arisen include how the crime compares to that of domestic jurisdictions, inherent difficulties faced when prosecuting crimes of sexual violence internationally, the significance of the role played by gender and the fair trial rights of the accused. As it stands today, due to the mixed messages which have emanated from the jurisprudence of the ad hoc tribunals, the inclusion of consent within the definition of rape remains uncertain. Ultimately, this paper will demonstrate that there is a need for a clearer definition of the crime of rape, which should be broad and should focus on coercive circumstances, rather than consent.


Egide Dhala, Manager of the Centre for the Education and Integration of Migrants (CEIM) with SPIRASI

Contribution of the Diaspora from Ireland in addressing Violence against Women in DR Congo

The majority of Congolese citizens living in Ireland have left their country of origin because of persecution and have experienced violence in many forms. Women, in particular, suffered more on the basis of their gender. All this happened as a result of decades of economic crisis, lack of democracy, human rights abuses, extreme poverty, etc. The last decade has affected D.R. Congo with a recurrent war in its Eastern part and has negatively affected millions of people, especially women and children, who are left with deep mental and physical ill-health. Today, the culture of violence has spread throughout the country, with calls for intervention coming from different actors including the Congolese themselves. 
Since 2012 Wezesha, the African Diaspora initiative in Ireland that comprises of people from D.R. Congo, has committed to supporting women affected or likely to be affected by conflict and violence in DR Congo. Two field visits have been paid to Congo by Wezesha. Wezesha has been working directly with women on the ground through empowerment approach to address issues that they face on a daily basis, including abuse, poverty, etc. The group has mobilised over three hundred women within 6 months and hope to expand throughout the country and become a strong advocacy voice on issues affecting women. 


Lucia Ennis, Concern

DRC - Political Solution Required

Charlotte Bayoma is a thirty year old woman from Lukweti in Masisi Territory in Eastern DRC. She has four children aged 3 to 14 years. In February, she fled to the forest with her children to escape fighting between a local armed group – APCLS and government forces (FARDC). They built a shelter out of banana leaves. They now eat what they can find and often go a day and night without eating anything. She cannot go to work in her field and grow food because of the risk of being raped. When talking about the impact of the armed conflict, Charlotte explained that the reason women suffer more is because they are also looking after their children and it is they who face the risk of sexual violence. Concern Worldwide is operating in Masisi delivering humanitarian assistance to the thousands of households who are repeatedly exposed to the effects of conflict and who have endured years of continual displacement. In the last twelve months, the strengthened mandate of MONUSCO has had significant impact. However, the demand for a political solution to North Kivu’s conflicts seems to have been lost within the focus on military intervention. The human cost of the joint operations of MONUSCO and FARDC is massive. There is an urgent need for renewed momentum and commitment to find a political resolution to the problems in North Kivu, to get to tangible results of better security and long term stability for the population. Charlotte’s perspective on the situation in Lukweti echoed much of what has already been articulated about the Kivus conflict. Her hope for the future is clear: ‘There is nothing else I can tell you. We need to have peace’. The international community must offer Charlotte, her family, neighbours and friends something more than military intervention.


Enida Friel & Helena O’Donnell

Presentation Title: Women lead the way to economic growth and lasting peace in Rwanda: an Oxfam model

By making women an integral part of the Rwandan supply chain, Oxfam hopes to bring about long term societal change; facilitating growth of the horticulture sector, improving the status of women and contributing to their country’s development and lasting peace. Oxfam is innovative in focusing its farming model on women and developing projects that work around them: encouraging companies to invest assets and resources in businesses that benefit women smallholders; developing relationships between women as producers and government and private sector as buyers; facilitating microfinance institutions to lend to women and companies that work with them while building on their skills and proposals; advocating for women smallholders by showcasing their work to enterprise boards and facilitating platforms where women can speak out about their successes. Since 2012 the programme has improved the livelihoods of 3,266 women from horticulture activities. Five microfinance institutions and four private companies have engaged with women smallholders while six other agencies (governmental and non-governmental) have taken up Oxfam’s model. We have facilitated loans of Euro160,741 to 582 women and an additional Euro169,000 has been invested in Rwanda in support of poor smallholder women. Women are being recognized as key stakeholders in horticulture value chain and equal contributors to economic growth and stability. Uwamwezi Merciana, who lives with her husband and three children, has become one of the best sellers of pineapple suckers in Nyagatare district. She is now a business leader and trains other women in her community. Merciana says, “This project has encouraged us to get a good life. My husband sees me as an equal contributor and can’t take any decision without consulting me.” With support from Oxfam women pineapple sucker (seed material) producers in Nyagatare have become employers, taking on more than 10,000 labour days in the first round of production. They have grown and sold more than 1.5million suckers.


Dr. Niamh Gaynor, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University

From liberal to liberating engagement: Thinking about donor strategies on women’s local political participation in the DRC

A higher level of women’s political participation is widely viewed as an important mechanism through which increased gender equity and women’s rights might be secured. This is promoted by the international donor community via a two-pronged strategy of quotas (to address institutional exclusion) and training/capacity building/mentoring of potential candidates (to address educational disadvantage). In the Great Lakes region, this strategy has been promoted at both national and local government levels. Rwanda – with the highest level of national parliamentary female representation in the world (64%) and 30% gender quotas at all levels of local government – is an excellent test case in examining the effectiveness and possible replicability of this model across the region. Drawing on both fieldwork conducted by the author in the DRC and Rwanda in 2013 and wider lessons from the Rwandan experience in the literature, this paper argues that the benefits accruing from enhanced women’s political participation at all levels in Rwanda (mixed in terms of legislative and policy gains, but more significant in terms of women’s status at local levels) is unlikely to be replicated in the DRC. This, it is argued, is because two of the three factors identified as key to the Rwandan model are very different in the Congolese case. Consequently, it is suggested that donors in the DRC shift their attention and support from formal, liberal models to more liberating informal models of women’s leadership and empowerment.


Dearbhla Glynn

Film: The Value of Women in The Congo

In 2012 Irish Filmmaker Dearbhla Glynn travelled to the Congo for the first time. With initial support from IRIN Dearbhla set about finding a way to explore the issue of gender-based violence in the country in a way that had not been done before. Working with the Congo Men’s Network (COMEN) Dearbhla embedded herself in the heart of Eastern Congo.The short film that she produced “The Value of Women in The Congo” is an uncompromising, clear-headed and disturbing examination of the effects of the sexual violence perpetrated with impunity.  The film explores the experience of the victims as well as the perspective of the perpetrators behind these appalling crimes – foot soldiers, warlords and high-ranking commandants. What emerges is an arresting and brutal account of how war ravages the land and its people and leaves few victors – least of all women, whose value is often rendered worthless. Dearbhla Glynn’s The Value of Women is a brave and delicately handled piece of war reportage. It is hard-hitting, while showing many sides of the story........It is an important, devastating piece of human rights documentary filmmaking” ICCL Jury member & Oscar-nominated director Kirsten Sheridan


Dr. Melanie Hoewer, UCD

Women in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict: Working with UNSCR 1325 in Liberia

Social mobilisation of women for peace has highlighted repeatedly the limitation for women’s spaces in conflict settlement processes, a claim which found resonance in the development of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Adopted in 2000, UNSCR 1325 has marked a significant step in recognizing women’s role in peace processes and for integrating their different perspectives in rebuilding society. As an initiative from grass roots activists now embedded in international norms it raises important issues on the relation of international, national and local-participatory imperatives. This paper focuses on female women’s rights activists’ experiences with the implementation of the international instrument, ‘UNSCR 1325’, in Liberia. It asks how ‘UNSCR 1325’ is used to address cultural legacies of conflict from a gender perspective and to allow for alliance building across boundaries. The data for this paper was generated in a year-long research project on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Colombia, Liberia and Northern Ireland; it uses transcripts of one half-day focus group and field-notes from public events held with female women’s rights activists from Liberia, focused on UNSCR 1325 and the opportunities and challenges women activists experienced with the implementation of this international framework. This research will be complimented by an exhibition comprised of images and text gathered through an action research project carried out with women activists in Liberia during 2013. This small collection contextualizes the work of these women in their local context, highlighting some of the issues that they deal with on a daily basis and reiterating the importance of continuing to frame work on UNSCR 1325 in the lived experiences of women living and working in post-conflict societies. The paper first contextualizes the analysis, then presents the findings and concludes by discussing the wider significance of those for reflections on women, peace and security in the aftermath of armed conflict.


Marlene Houngbedji, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Female Combatants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Gendered Misconceptions of Militarized Identities in DDR and SSR

One persistent narrative has dominated accounts, studies and analysis of the prolonged Congolese conflict: it features brutal rebels as male remnants of dark ages savagery, and women as perpetual victims of systemic sexual violence by uniformed rapists. This erroneous perception of the situation on the ground has had unfortunate repercussions in the form of failed Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs in the DRC, which in turn hampered attempts at engaging in effective and sustainable Security Sector Reform (SSR). Operating on the premises that the gendered dynamics of the armed forces and groups, and the identities of participants have remained the same over time, institutions involved in reconstruction neglect the presence of women and girls involved in the Congolese war. Transitional programs thus fail to establish in which ways, discursive or material, women who have abandoned, voluntarily or coercively, traditional gender roles and have masculinized can reclaim their identities as members in communities reluctant to welcome them in their midst. This paper will provide for an overview of female combatants’ dichotomous experience of war, both as victims at the mercy of their male peers and perpetrators of violence, then discuss their status (of lack thereof) in the crafting of DDR and SSR policies. It will highlight the challenges of reconstructing their individualities, and how, in light of the multifaceted need to demobilize, demilitarize, reintegrate fighters and reform the security sector, redefining gender also becomes an integral part of long-term social and economic reconstruction.

Marvi Kitenge (Abstract to follow) - Congolese women’s organising in Ireland

Jean Bonheur Kongolo Pande Oxfam, DRC


The Peace, Security and Cooperation Agreements: Issue of policy and democratization in the DRC and the region


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long way to the predominance of cross-cutting cleavages and civic virtue that characterize a civic society at any organisational level. This predominance would demand a transformation of political culture and an enormous accumulation of social capital in the form of these cross-cutting, civically engaged organizations. Nevertheless, the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) on 24th February 2013 in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia mark potential historical and profound process for the change in DRC and the region. If this PSCF is nurtured, through the types of institutional reforms and internal and external assistance, it could overcome a number of root causes of conflict in DRC and the Great Lakes Region firmly on the path to democracy, development, and political stability. And this underway process of PSCF should remain a model for the DRC and the region. Here lies the necessity for research on “challenges to the PSCF implementation“as the Democratic Republic of Congo struggle on this long road to stability, democratization and consolidation. Using mainly secondary sources and general observation method, the paper examines the challenges facing the PSCF in consolidating democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and will recommend solutions.


Salome Mbugua, AkiDwA

Congolese women in the light of Security Council Resolution 1325

As much as ninety per cent of current war casualties are established to be civilian (UN, 2000). Women and girls are explicitly targeted and adversely impacted by armed conflict because of their status in society and their sex. In armed conflict many types of violence take place against women, such as rape, murder, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, forced stabilisation. Systematic rape may be used as a tactic of war. Formally recognising these different impacts of war on women and men, the United Nation Security Council adapted resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) in 2000. UNSCR 1325 is a legal and political framework that recognises the protection of women during war, the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning and peace operation, and the participation of women in post-conflict peacebuilding and governance. It urges member states to increase representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions.The adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in October 2000 commits the international community to address the impact of armed conflict on women as well as to recognise their undervalued contribution to conflict prevention and peace building (UNSCR, 2000).  UNSCR 1325 commits UN member’s to the ‘3Ps’ –prevention, protection and participation – in recognition that women are not included in peace building and the fact that they have much to contribute. The equal involvement of men and women are necessary when rebuilding the nation following an armed conflict. Without the equal participation of women (half of the nation) in formal negotiation, the peace process cannot be seen democratic and responsive to all citizens, questioning the legitimacy of the process. Furthermore, women have a different experience of war from men. They bring different perspectives to the substance and process of negotiation, producing qualitative and positive outcomes.


Veronica Mathew, PHD student, Dublin City University

Women and Political Leadership in parliaments: the impact of quotas: A comparative study of Kenya and Tanzania

More women in Africa now hold ministerial positions and play a greater diversity of leadership roles than ever before. This has been attributed to the substantial increase in the percentage of women parliamentarians, which come about as a result of the application of quotas. However, it is has also been claimed that quotas, particularly reserve-seat quotas, undermine the political authority of women and therefore make it less likely that they will be assigned significant leadership roles. It is furthermore claimed that women are more likely to be assigned to leadership positions that reflect women’s traditional social roles. This paper will address these questions using a comparative study of Tanzania, a state that uses a reserve-seat quota system, and Kenya which until March 2013 did not have a quota system. This allows a comparison to be made between women MPs from constituency seats and women MPs from reserve seats. It also compares both categories of female MPs with male MPs. The leadership positions analysed are political party leadership positions, cabinet ministries and parliamentary committees between the years 2011-2012 in Kenya and Tanzania states. The analysis uses a modified version of the Krook and O’Brien (2010) schema that ranks leadership positions in terms of their prestige and gender assignment. This empirical analysis increases our knowledge of the difference in the experience of women politicians selected through constituency seats and those selected through non-constituency seats. In addition, it highlights the existence of gender differences between the types of leadership positions occupied by men and women in the context of these two Eastern African countries.


Emma Newbury, Trócaire

The Space between: an Analytical Framework of Women’s Participation

Trócaire is undertaking a three year research project on women’s participation in DRC, India and Nicaragua with the objective of informing and improving policy and practice related to women’s leadership and participation in decision making spaces at the community level. Specifically, this research will: Explore the barriers and enabling factors for women’s participation in decision making spaces at the community level; Investigate strategies used by local organisations to enable women to participate in decision-making spaces in order to capture learning and identify best practice; Trace the effects of participation in these spaces on individual women’s lives and the communities they live in.  The research is a qualitative study using a suite of participatory tools, based on the principles of participatory rural appraisal. Using a stratification of socio-political factors two target communities were selected per organisation. The women involved in the Trócaire programme in those communities form the study population.This paper will present the analytical framework for the research. It explores key concepts found in the literature relating to participation, spaces, power and women’s empowerment and the value and importance of these to women themselves in bringing about positive and transformational change. The paper considers participation from the perspective of citizenship participation drawing on the work of Gaventa (2004). The chosen lens within this area is that of ‘spaces’, drawing on Cornwall’s (2002) seminal work on participation. Recognising that participation does not occur in a vacuum but as part of the social world where power dynamics shape the boundaries of action, the paper explores the ubiquitous and complex nature of power and domination in in order to understand the potential that spaces and women’s participation in these spaces provide for transforming power relations.


Aoife Prendergast, Department of Humanities, Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, Dublin

Women’s Participation in Peace Education: An Analysis of Paulo Freire’s Influence and Concepts.

Women’s participation in peace education is not naive or impossible. Peace should not be perceived as a silent and non-confrontational. Peace is dynamic, active and is overt with its intention to confront, understand and resist violence. Yet because peace education is clear with its objectives, it is not a process of indoctrination – “conflict is man-made therefore peace must be made to happen” (Uhemba, 2013). When this is put into practice, it creates a range of thought and perspectives for cultural understanding, non-violent communication and conflict management. Youths begin to see old events, experiences and structures in a new light. They begin to question their previous assumption and values. The dialogue and reflection is grounded in politics and political theories of educators, political scientists, environmentalists, practitioners and philosophers, such as John Dewey (1916), Maria Montessori (1949) and Paulo Freire (1970).Women’s participation strengthens peace work. This presentation focuses on education as a political act. Freire’s major contribution to the field of peace education is the insight that education is, necessarily, a form of politics. He averred that schooling is never neutral; instead, it always serves some interests and impedes others. Freire’s magnetism lies in his insistence that schooling can be used for liberation, just as it has been used for oppression. He argued that through liberatory education, people come to understand social systems of oppression and equip themselves to act to change those situations. Educators, then, must reconceptualise their labour as political work and “must ask themselves for whom and on whose behalf they are working” (Freire, 1985, p. 80). Peace education focuses both on education about peace and education for peace while addressing the knowledge, values, skills and behaviours needed to nurture a peace culture. This should encompass gender equality and encourage women to lead and engage in effective dialogue. The contents of peace education include knowledge of peace movements, peacemakers, direct and indirect violence, peace as an active process, human rights and responsibilities, world views and ideologies, non-violent communication, communities and dialogues.


Dr. Niamh Reilly, Global Women’s Studies, NUI Galway  and Roslyn Warren, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security

Women and gender in the implementation of the Peace, Cooperation and Security Framework – some research findings

Reilly and Warren provide an update and practical insights into ongoing efforts to implement the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and region, with particular attention to Special Envoy Mary Robinson’s efforts to include women within the monitoring and implementation of the PSC Framework commitments. In addition to identifying major achievements for the PSC Framework’s implementation, Reilly and Warren’s research highlights current opportunities for women’s leadership and participation, showcases women's analyses and solutions relating to PSC Framework implementation, and flags major obstacles that must be surmounted before these solutions can be realized. 


Dr. Stacey Scriver, Post-Doctoral Researcher, School of Political Science and Sociology and Global Women’s Studies, NUI Galway

Supporting Survivors of Conflict Related Sexual Violence in Ireland: Obligation and Opportunity

International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law has long recognised the existence and impact of sexual violence in conflict on women, children and men, through, for instance, the Geneva Conventions (Article 3, 1949, expanded 1977), CEDAW, and more recently resolutions such as UNSCR 1325 and 1820.  However, less recognition has been made of the needs of those affected by conflict-related sexual violence who seek asylum or the obligations of host states to survivors of such violence. 
As signatories to UNSCR 1325, and through the creation of a National Action Plan (NAP) for UNSCR 1325, Ireland has committed to protecting and empowering women in conflict and post-conflict situations. In particular, pillars 3 and 4 of the NAP detail clear objectives to respond to gender based and sexual violence experienced by women affected by conflict and in ensuring that reintegration activities respond to women’s needs. It is essential to recognise that such activities are equally important within Ireland, to support women affected by conflict within the state, as they are in external states.  
In Ireland, Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs) are the primary provider of services for adult survivors of sexual violence. Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) provides coordination to member RCCs, keeps the national database of sexual violence information from RCC service users and provides analysis and advocacy on emerging issues.  This paper presents the findings from a study of refugee and asylum seeker RCC service users commissioned by the RCNI. It was found that 23% of this group came from the DRC and Congolese community in Ireland and there is strong evidence of conflict-related sexual violence. Specific barriers to service provision and service uptake were identified, due in large part to restricted funding to RCCs and the system of Direct Provision for asylum seekers, which negatively affects access and quality of care for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Ireland. The paper argues that adequate support for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Ireland is a clear opportunity to meet State obligations and commitments, to assist women’s recovery, and, ultimately, to ensure that women’s engagement in all areas of public and private life is not hampered by the experience of sexual violence. 


Aine Sperrin, Irish Research Council Scholar & PhD student Jennifer Kline, J.D, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway


Inclusive Response, Reconciliation and Rebuilding-­ the potential impact of the CRPD on women in the DRC”

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) is one of the most widely ratified conventions in the world and has several articles that address conflict and development. Although the DRC has not signed or ratified the CRPD, this does not preclude the principles enshrined in the CRPD from being used and respected in responses to the conflict, reconciliation and rebuilding efforts. The impact of the CRPD is especially pertinent when considering other countries’ response and reconstruction efforts in the DRC. This paper will focus on the impact of Article 11 and Article 19 of the CRPD. Article 11 concerns the protection and safety of persons with disabilities during conflicts and Article 19 concerns independent living and inclusion in the community for people with disabilities. These articles would benefit women especially in the areas of response, reconciliation and reconstruction. Using Article 11 and Article 19 as a framework the paper will discuss how disability has been used as a peace building mechanism in other conflicted countries, the importance of inclusive response with reference to the SPHERE guidelines and building and recovering inclusively. Building and recovering inclusively will look at using conflict as an opportunity to rebuild (physically and metaphorically) inclusively and the importance of addressing conflict related mental and physical disability in post conflict environments. Throughout, the paper will take into consideration the phenomenon of the disproportionate effect conflict has on women.


Larissa Stiem

A Gender Analysis of Communal Forest Governance with Implications for REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In an effort to mitigate global climate change, the REDD+ mechanism (an acronym for ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock’) continues to be put forward as an attractive carbon sequestration and forest conservation tool. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hosting more than 63% of the Congo Basin rainforests, is the biggest  receiver  for  REDD+ funding in Africa. These funds are used to improve forest governance towards sustainable forest management practices and forest conservation. In particular  at  the  local  level,  these  changes  will affect communities’ forest resource use, forest management practices,  and  ultimately  their livelihoods. Given the fact that the DRC scores fifth highest in the world on the Gender Inequality Index, it is unacceptable that gender issues remain peripheral in the process of setting up  REDD+ governance  structures. Therefore, this research addresses this issue of gender blindness in examining barriers to female participation in forest governance. Theories and frameworks from Feminist Political Ecology and Bina Agarwal in particular have guided the research for a deeper understanding of prevailing power relations and social norms that shape gender inequalities.