ABSTRACT

As we have seen in previous chapters, situations of armed conflict and violence can both transform and reinforce existing gender roles. The same is true of what have been labelled periods of ‘post-conflict’, where gender roles are again subject to processes of change and evolution. But whilst women clearly play an important role in peace building and in post-conflict reconstruction, it has been noted globally that they are often absent or excluded from formal negotiation processes. This chapter will provide a gendered analysis of the processes of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction in the DRC, examining in particular women’s role in the various peace processes that have taken place, and the struggle that women have engaged in to have their voices heard at the peace table. Whilst women have been excluded from the formal negotiation processes, they have mobilised strongly at grassroots level to make their voices heard, and have in some instances been able to force their way onto the national and international scene. But unfortunately there have also been divisions within the women’s movement which have at times impaired their ability to have an impact on national peacebuilding and decision-making processes. The chapter will also analyse the issue of transitional justice mechanisms and the gendered impacts of such processes in the DRC. We will argue that current mechanisms of justice do not respond to the particular needs of women, and that many may be unable to access or feel excluded from these processes. Some analyses have pointed to the failure of national peace building processes and have called for more locally based and adapted solutions. But whilst local justice mechanisms using traditional law and justice as a basis may be seen as a progress towards creating ‘local peace’, there are also dangers inherent in such approaches in that they may reinforce existing patriarchal systems and discrimination against women by reverting to traditional structures of male power and decision-making.