Integrating women’s priorities into peacebuilding processes: Experiences of monitoring and advocacy in Burundi and Sierra Leone

This report outlines the findings and recommendations of a workshop with representatives from Burundian and Sierra Leonean civil society organisations working in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The aim of the five-day workshop was to exchange experiences, discuss common challenges and strengthen future collaboration in order to support the integration of gender related priorities into peacebuilding processes. The workshop resulted in a number of findings and recommendations that can be built on to ensure enhanced support for women’s organisations to monitor and advocate for the inclusion of gender perspectives in peacebuilding processes.

Discussions around security-related issues raised the important point that security sector reform processes in both countries have suffered from a lack of engagement with civil society and other non-state actors. Women’s organisations face particular challenges in their attempts to hold security sector actors accountable, as few women’s organisations have traditionally engaged with the security sector and lack sufficient technical expertise, capacity and connections to exercise meaningful oversight over the sector.

It was widely agreed by workshop participants that women’s economic insecurity underlies a number of other forms of insecurity, vulnerability and discrimination and should be addressed by those attempting to improve women’s involvement in peacebuilding processes. Women’s economic insecurity is compounded by a number of factors, including illiteracy, traditional practices, and discrimination by financial institutions and in public policy.

Economic empowerment enables women to participate more actively in society and peacebuilding processes and to reduce their vulnerability to various forms of abuse. However, these programmes need to be informed by a conflict-sensitive approach. For example, microcredit schemes can sometimes increase tensions within households and communities when only certain women can take part in these schemes and may have to respond to high expectations from family and community members.