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In keeping with the notion that one who under what so ever circumstances suffers the most is the one who is more prepared and dedicated in righting whatever wrongs would have arisen. Women in Liberia suffered unprecedented atrocities during the Liberian civil war one may think of it as unthinkable but it took place in Liberia all forms of abuse some women experienced all forms of abuse. It is only natural that as women they felt inclined to be involved in the reconstruction of Liberia.
They have done a great deal considering that they face many hindrances chief amongst them being that they are women. The international community is commended for the continued support but however there is need for more involvement taking into account that the international community is to a greater extent responsible for the civil war that unfolded in Liberia. Despite the remarkable contributions made by women to secure peace in Liberia, womens representation in politics is still low.
The first female African President was elected, as well as a few women to strategic government positions, but the vast majority of women remained invisible. The reliance on these few women in government was inadequate to produce the significant changes that were required to bring equality for all women. This paper is mainly premised on the contributions that the Liberia women made after the civil war of 2003 and also delves into how effective they have been in their endeavor.
This is usually fuelled by the opposition of one party to another, in an attempt to reach an objective different from that of the other party. The differences in values, beliefs and principles allow conflict to arise.
Many of the arguments assume that all human persons (male, female, and children) are the same. That implies, therefore, that they contribute equally to conflict. It is in this respect that some scholars have come up with arguments that place different responsibilities to men and women as far as their contributions to conflict is concerned .Drock-Utne (1989), argues that it is the men who have innate tendencies to conflict (Rummel 2014). That is to say that there is an innate aggressive nature in men. They are therefore easily prone to conflict; armed conflict for that matter. Therefore, although all human beings are prone to conflicts, for men it is worse due to their high aggressive tendencies. It is in this respect that women are absolved from conflict and by that become good instruments for peace building. He argues that women are natural peace builders and men, on the contrary, war makers. This, according to him starts at the onset of human development where young girls tend to share and cooperate while young boys tend to compete.Johann Galtung (1996) posits that women are naturally peaceful.
He states that women have innate qualities that make them peace loving. High in empathy, their characters are horizontal and centripetal, making them more prone to peaceful relations, combined with chemical programming of the cyclical and complex oestrogen and high level of mono amino oxidase, the chemical responsible for controlling violence.In contrast, men are argued to be war makers and perpetrators of violence. Galtung (1996) cites the low empathy, vertical, centrifugal, expansionist character of man, pointing out that 95% of direct violence is committed by men. There is something in the nature of men that makes them fight, as Skjelsback (2001) points out. Military thinking, adds Ruddick (1990), is imbued with male values. In view of the above group of scholars, it is clear that men play a big role in perpetrating conflict. It would therefore be a big challenge engaging them to any constructive peace building initiative. Any person suffering the greatest loss/negative impact in any undertaking is bound to engage in genuine mitigation measures. Since data shows that women are the major victims of armed conflict, then it follows necessarily that they will engage in a genuine and meaningful peacebuilding initiative.
Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan stated that existing inequalities between men and women, and patterns of discrimination between women and girls, tend to be exacerbated in armed conflict.80 Alonso (1993) has also attested that in war, women were the ones to suffer most, both in perpetual violence against women and through the deaths of sons, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers.81 Moser and Clark (2001) add that women suffer severe forms of victimization and men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators.82 The Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995,acknowledged the particular suffering women experience from, “murder, torture, systematic rape, forced pregnancy and forced abortion.83 Benderley (1997) has presented a record of such sufferings by women in former Yugoslavia.84 In addition, women become sustainers of communities in times of conflict, suffer disruption of social and economic life and. with children, make up over 80% of refugees.85
Therefore, if women generally experience conflict disproportionately to men, an affinity for peace is unsurprising.In Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, Lederach (1996) states that a conflict transformation framework offers a better understanding and awareness of the nature of conflict than a framework which deals with resolving the conflict itself. Conflict resolution or conflict management theory suggests that conflict is all bad and that conflict experts need to change it. These theories assume that conflict is a short-term phenomenon that can be resolved at once and permanently through conflict interventions. Such theorists suggest that people are •controllable– and aim at reducing or managing the volatility of conflict more than looking at or dealing with the problem itself (Lederach, 1996). This means that the aspects and aftermaths of conflict need to be addressed, such as transforming hate to love, violence to peace, and rebellion to democracy.
Lederach sees the use of the framework of conflict transformation as being more appropriate for his work because conflict transformation suggests that conflict experts do not merely eliminate or control conflict but also recognize the nature and volatility of conflict and try to work with it. Conflict transformation entails transforming the way conflict itself is manifested. In other words, conflict transformation involves a search for understanding, awareness, growth, and commitment to change on a personal level, which may occur through the recognition of fear, anger, grief, and bitterness .Conflict transformation suggests that while conflict can have destructive consequences, these consequences can be transformed into positive actions so that self-image, personal and communal relationships, and social structures can improve or change. In the case of Liberia, conflict transformation embraces the new roles and actions women in Liberia demonstrated during the war to enforce peace in Liberia and their determination to participate in grassroots politics. Womens efforts and contributions were too often unrecognized.
In general, women in Liberia first participated in national elections in 1957 that elected President William VS Tubman, over 100 years after Liberia’s independence. Prior to 1957, women in Liberia were not allowed to vote and occupy political leadership roles. Both traditional and nontraditional women were assigned roles of housewives and social entertainers. In addition, women were filtered through the lenses and stereotypes that stand in the way of allowing their full participation in community development and grassroots political processes.
Historically, women became organized and recognized for the first time in 1910 because of their artistic talents and quilting skills. Liberian women were traditionally known for their hospitality and their skills with cultural arts and crafts. In 1957 and 1958, Liberian women hosted national fairs where, for the first time, women exhibited their skills in various sewing needle arts exhibitions where many prizes were awarded (Runn-Marcos, Kolleholon and Ngovo, 2005). This recognition certainly did not represent every woman in Liberia. The participants were mostly women with western education of freed slave descent. There is evidence that traditional women were skillful enough to participate in national and grassroots programs, but were excluded and unrecognized because they could not read and write. They were ignored by the elite political class in Liberia. Traditional women, who could demonstrate traditional arts like singing, dancing,
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