Feminist perspectives on peacebuilding: The case of women’s organisations in South Sudan

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In the past few decades there has been increased feminist scholarship in the area of conflict and peacebuilding, with calls for the inclusion of previously marginalised feminist and women’s perspectives to peacebuilding as well as examination of the processes that have sanctioned these exclusions. Feminists have argued that women’s daily experiences and struggles enable them to articulate different perspectives on peacebuilding that challenges dominant male discourse on conflict and peacebuilding. Black and African feminist scholars have further called for openness to the multiplicity and diversity of women’s experiences, including in situations of conflict and post-conflict. This article builds on feminist theorising in the area of peacebuilding by drawing on an empirical study conducted in South Sudan, a newly formed state after decades of war, on the strategies adopted by women’s organisations in peacebuilding initiatives.

After South Sudan came out of decades of war it became imperative for peacebuilding to take place in order to prevent relapses. The findings of the study revealed that peace processes in South Sudan continue to exclude women from the peacebuilding strategic plans. The women, however, in exercising agency adopted a bottom-up approach within which they were largely involved in peacebuilding at grassroots level. Although this grassroots movement is suitable for sustainable peacebuilding, this article calls for the involvement of women at multiple levels. In building on feminist interventions in the area of peacebuilding, it advocates for an integrated approach to peacebuilding which entails bottom-up, horizontal and top-bottom approaches in which women are involved at all levels of decision-making.

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Tolulope Adeogun

Gender studies, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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