WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES OF PEACEBUILDING IN VIOLENCE-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN KENYA
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Women’s experiences of peacebuilding in violence-affected communities in Kenya

 

Despite the attention to gender and conflict in empirical positivist peace research, and the interest in local agency in recent peacebuilding literature, women’s understandings and lived experiences of peacebuilding are not necessarily well accounted for. This article, drawing on interviews, focus groups and observation research with 57 female victims/survivors of post-election violence in Kenya, provides an ethnographic study of women’s largely informal peacebuilding activities, ranging from mediation and dialogue to economic empowerment. It analyses women’s constructions and ways of making sense of being peacebuilders, demonstrating that, while participants employed dominant gender frames, they exerted considerable transformative agency in their communities. It argues that their ‘gendered responsibility for peace’ at community level is simultaneously empowering and disempowering. The research aims to increase understanding of the gendered nature of peacebuilding and the ways in which women exercise peacebuilding agency through a focus on their own voices and lived experiences.

Keywords: Gender, peacebuilding, women, Kenya, political violence, post-election violence

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