The civil war in Burundi led to the death of 300,000 people and the displacement of 1 million more. Now with an influx of people returning, the road to recovery truly begins. Moving on from conflict means the rebuilding of lives after the trauma of violence, dealing with the death of loved ones and returning home to find land and homes repossessed.
Women in particular face the biggest challenge. Those who have lost their husbands during the conflict return home to find that they have no rights to their land through inheritance – just because they are women. Yet, they must provide a home and earn a living for their families. This fragile and unstable peace means there is an increased risk of renewed violence and that the poorest get poorer.
Valérie Ahishakiye and her family were forced to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 12 years of war. She has now returned to Burundi hoping to build a better future, but recovery is a slow process.
“I am married. I had eight children. Only six are left. We are returnees. We have no access to land. We have a roof over our head, but no land to grow food. We are completely destitute. We are not getting any support to help us earn our living, so that we can feed and clothe our children, and so that we don’t have to beg any more."
International Alert has been working in Burundi since 1995. Our Making Women’s Voices Heard project, which started in 2010, has trained 37 women’s organisations on women’s economic rights, security and access to justice and reconciliation, deepening their understanding of gender relations, integration, stereotypes and equality. We have brought together communities divided by the conflict to work on business projects, helping them to foster better relationships and make a living. And we have trained 59 groups on how to create and manage small businesses, and helping them to discuss opportunities with microfinance institutions, to ensure their businesses prosper.
Here, we share Burundian women's views on how to foster reconciliation and growth in their communities and country:
Through our work, women are finding a voice to express their views about what is needed to foster peace and development in their country.
Women just want to be able to take control of their own lives, have equal rights and be heard like men, provide for their families and build a better future for their children. With your help, they can.
Your gift can provide women with training, dialogue sessions and practical solutions to rebuild their lives. Just £10 a month could:
- produce 20 radio programmes to help women overcome barriers to earning a living
- hold community dialogue workshops to develop ideas for poverty reduction which can be presented to the government
- help women secure microfinance loans for small-scale business opportunities
This International Women’s Day, will you give a gift to support women find a future after conflict?
Thank you for your commitment to peace. It is a long process, but with your help we know it is possible.