Women and Peacebuilding: A Feminist Study of Contemporary Bougainville

Barbara King (2009). Women and Peacebuilding: A Feminist Study of Contemporary Bougainville PhD Thesis, School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Barbara King
Thesis Title Women and Peacebuilding: A Feminist Study of Contemporary Bougainville
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-02
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Di Zetlin
Kevin Clements
Total pages 293
Total colour pages 1
Total black and white pages 292
Subjects 360000 Policy and Political Science
Abstract/Summary This dissertation explores the relationship between peacebuilding, theory and praxis, and women. It examines the impact that peacebuilding has on women and the ways in which women participate in peacebuilding, both during conflicts and in the period of transformation that follows. In this dissertation I argue that women are profoundly affected by conflict and are crucial to peacebuilding and post-conflict transformation. This dissertation seeks to make a contribution to our understanding of how peacebuilding and post-conflict transformation impacts on women. The dissertation includes a study of Bougainville. The ten year civil war which began in 1989 ended in 1998 with a formal ceasefire and was followed by the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001. It was the role that women played throughout the conflict which has been widely cited in the literature that is of most interest to me. Bougainvillean women have been credited as being the motivating force behind the peace process during the war, in the lead up to the ceasefire and peace agreement, and an integral part of the post- conflict transformation of Bougainville. Many suggest that one explanation for this is because Bougainville is mostly a matrilineal society. Although some literature suggests matrilineality is restricted to lineage and land, this dissertation contends that matrilineality in Bougainville gave women substantive power and authority over most aspects of society. With some exceptions, the literature on peacebuilding is relatively recent, galvanized by Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s An Agenda for Peace (1992). A more historical body of literature postulates an enduring relationship between women and peace. These two bodies of literature provide the context for this dissertation. The literature that directly frames the argument of this dissertation is the feminist literature on women and peacebuilding. This literature proposes that the conflict and its aftermath are profoundly gendered phenomena. Birgitte Sorensen’s 1998 report, Women and Post-conflict Reconstruction: Issues and Sources, categorises peacebuilding into the areas of political, economic and social and critically examines the impacts of each of these areas of peacebuilding from the perspective of women. This report provides an excellent framework for this study. I use Sorensen’s model but have extended it to include a fourth category on postconflict justice to explore how issues related to women and justice are addressed. I do this because there are a number of issues related to women and post-conflict justice that need to be explored in greater detail, such as women’s access to land and gendered violence. This dissertation examines how each area of peacebuilding impacts on women, and how women and men participate in these areas of peacebuilding. This approach provides the structure of the dissertation. This dissertation concurs with the proposition that conflict and its aftermath are profoundly gendered. Even in the matrilineal society of Bougainville where women enjoy relatively high status, conflict has its disempowering effects on women. Peacebuilding adds new dimensions to the power of women and their disempowerment. In relation to political peacebuilding, there is an uneasy hybrid system of authority in Bougainville as the people of Bougainville attempt to retain some of their traditions in the newly constructed Western models of governance. The evidence is clear that women are under-represented in the introduced Western institutions. Over time, these institutions accumulate more of the power and authority. Within the economy, women are, as ever, the producers. In the past women’s ownership and control of land gave them control over the labour of men (in some parts of Bougainville), but the ending of the conflict has opened up new spaces for men to control land. Nihilistic spaces have emerged where once there was fighting. The shape of the new Bougainvillean economy is by no means clear, but there are disturbing signs that women will not be accorded their due as producers within society. Much of the feminist literature on peacebuilding points to the fact that women’s work in peacebuilding is unseen in mending the torn social fabric of post-conflict society. This dissertation confirms that hypothesis. This is where the women in Bougainville have managed to retain their traditional matrilineal strength as carers and healers of the social body. However they face new problems in relation to land and in relation to the escalation of domestic violence. They also face ongoing problems of how to heal and remedy the trauma of what was simultaneously a struggle for independence and a civil war. Matrilineality has protected Bougainvillean women from some of the traumas of war. The children of women raped during the conflict are welcomed into their matrilineal clan and women are able to exercise considerable authority within their communities. Nonetheless, it is a profoundly disturbing finding of this dissertation that peacebuilding in Bougainville may itself be setting boundaries around the power and authority of women in matrilineal Bougainville. Bougainvillean women may yet need to contend with men for their rightful place in the new society.
Keyword women, peacebuilding, feminism, Bougainville, post-conflict
Additional Notes page 10 in colour

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Created: Sun, 30 Aug 2009, 15:31:51 EST by Ms Barbara King on behalf of Library - Information Access Service