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Women’s participation on equal level with men in peace and security initiative is a condition for sustainable peace. As women play a prominent role in bringing about peace in conflict situation as a systematic representation and inclusion of women in conflict resolution significantly increase the chances of sustainable peace. Women’s role in peace and security brings strategies to address violence against women and girls in situation of armed conflict. The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 and other related resolutions which give critical attention to women’s role in the peace process. However, women’s contribution to peace and security initiative are often underemphasized or ignored when it comes to consequences of war on women and not addressing several causes of inequality. The study therefore sets out to describe the UNSCR 1325 and women IDPs perceptions of and strategies to peace and security in the Buea Municipality. The theory of women’s agency and the Harvard analytical framework were used to describe women’s ability and decision to participate in peace and security initiatives and strategies employed when they feelinsecured. A total of 100 IDPs and 6 key informant respondents operating in Buea municipality were selected from a total population 550 persons that is 500 IDPs and 50 key informant persons, using a combination of a simple random sampling and a purposive sampling technique. The research used both quantitative and qualitative measurements that were descriptive in nature. Questionnaires and an interview guide were used for data collection. The data was analyzed in line with the variables and objectives that were observed and measured as per the statement of problems and questions. The findings of this study reveal that the crisis in the English Speaking Region constituted main threat to the security of female internally displaced persons as a result of  gun battle and gun shots reason why they left their villages.

                                                     Chapter one


1.1 Background to the Study

Gender equality has gained significant recognition in the global development community in the past two decades. Global institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank, like wise regional organizations like the African Union see gender equality in all aspects of life as a key prerequisite for sustainable peace, governance and development (Doornbos, 2001).  This explains why gender equality is at the centre of the policy agenda and funding pre conditionality of global institutions such as the World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund (IMF) (World Bank, 1998; Chikwanha, 2012).

A significant momentum in the gender equality drive has been directed to the recognition and consolidation of women’s role in peace and security as well as strategies to address violence against women and girls, particularly in situations of conflict (Domingo, O’Neil & Foresti, 2014). This drive is against a backdrop of the numerous threats to women posed by conflict and violence. Thus, the promotion of sustainable peace and security is strategic to Women’s contribution in creating stability and to promote reconciliation, peace and security (Domingo, O’Neil & Foresti, 2014; United Nations 2010).

For instance, during armed conflict or war, human rights abuses are usually extensive and no one is safe, regardless of their age or gender. In the cases of Liberia, Sierra-Leon, and Ruanda, and with reference to women, rape was a very common human rights violation, where women and girls were said to have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) with varied consequences on the peace and security of women and girls  (Campbell-Nelson, 2008). 

Peace is generally defined as a “political condition that ensures stability through formal and informal institutions, practices and norms” (University for Peace [UPEACE], 2005: 55). The concept is employed to describe processes, strategies, norms and values put in place by institutions and governments to promote stability, social justice, equality and human security. Peace is not necessary the absence of war or violent hostilities; it is also distinct from strategies to prevent conflict or the use of violence strategies to prevent or resolve conflicts (UN, 2005).

Johan Gultung, the Norwegian peace scholar, looks at the term ‘peace’ and ‘violence ‘to be linked. Peace is the absence of violence and thus should be used as the social goal. Gultung further stated that like a coin peace has two sides: negative and positive peace. Negative peace is the absence of personal violence; positive peace is an absence of structural violence or social justice (Galtung, 1959). According to Galtung (1975), peace building is the process of creating self supporting structures that removes causes of wars and offer alternatives where war might occur. Peace building can also be said to be a process intended to resolve the current conflicts by building a comprehensive strategy to encourage lasting peace.

The recognition of women involvement in peace building initiatives has gained momentum in the past decades especially with the adoption of United Nations resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security (Kumalo, 2015). According to Agbajobi (2010) women constitute half of every community and the difficult task of peace building must be done by both men and women in partnership. Also Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) especially rape is often used as a weapon of war and women and girls are most often targeted due to their vulnerability.

It is important to promote women’s involvement in peace building as stated by Agbajobi (2010) that paying special attention to the different experiences of women and men in armed conflict is critical in designing successful conflict management and peace building programs. Globally, women compared to men, face challenges in accessing power, with “formidable obstacles” restricting their access to decision making positions and processes, as well as their ability to influence decision especially in peace processes. (United Nations 2019) Notwithstanding, unfortunately, women and girls are predominantly victim of conflicts owing to the socio-cultural construction of gender which exposes women and girls to vulnerabilities in situations of conflict. While more men than women die from combat related cause, women and girls are often exposed to sexual and gender based violence with varied consequences on the physical and psychological status of women and girls in situation of conflict.

Also, Liberian women were instrumental during the peace accords in Ghana 2003 where they force war lords to enter into a peace agreement. According to Yasmin Jusu-Sherif (2000), centralization of power, violence and patriarchal attitude excluded women from politics and public decision-making in post independent Sierra Leon. In respond to this, women formed non-political voluntary groups that focused on the advancement of the status and affairs of women (Ladum and Haaken 2017).   

According to the UN Security Council Report 2019, women’s direct participation in peace negotiation increases the sustainability and the quality of peace. Also, a study investigating 84 peace agreements in 42 armed conflicts between 1989 and 2011 found that peace agreement with women signatories are associated with durable peace (UN Women 2019). Gender perspective in peace building recognizes the role of women and men as key to the success and sustainability of the process as well as changing existing norms that may be restricting to peace building initiative. Apart from the victimization of women in armed conflict, women also actively participate in conflict voluntarily or forced. Women’s involvement in political decision-making and equal opportunity to participate at the negotiation table are essential to peace efforts (Makam; 2013).

Since the year 2000, the United Nations has paid key interest on the role and rights of women in conflict and peace processes. Backed by sustained advocacy and global women’s movements the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution 1325 in 2000 on women, peace and security, with six more resolutions joining the landmark UNSCR1325 (Domingo, O’Neil & Foresti, 2014).

The resolution consists of four main pillars participation, protection, prevention, and relief recovery (UN Women, 2006). The UNSCR 1325 is the outcome of a global activism and mobilization in favour of women’s involvement in decision making at all levels, including peace processes.  It is also informed by international gender instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations general assembly in 1979.

Resolution 1325 comes after it was recognized that women were always excluded from peace processes in the aftermaths of conflict and to create and establish the important role women play in the prevention and resolution of peace (UN Women 2016). Resolution 1325 aimed at increasing representation and participation of women in negotiation, peacekeeping missions, and peace building initiatives as equal as men as well as their involvement in the maintenance and promotion of peace (Tryggested; 2009). Other resolutions to serve as an addendum and support for the sustainability of resolution 1325 were adopted by UNSCR such as, UNSCR 1888 of 2009, UNSCR 1889, UNSCR 1960, UNSCR2106, UNSCR2122, and UNSCR2242.

Women’s role in peace building as defined in resolution 1325 indicates that women should be able to take part in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace building, and their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security and the need to increase their role in decision making with regards to conflict prevention and resolution (Bisong Clara Bate Mbuoben 2018).

According to the network of People Building Peace (NPPAC) (2019), women peace building play a unique role by contributing to the articulation of a people centered bottom-up perspective that is often missing in peace building. In Cameroon, in efforts to reduce further divide between Anglophone and francophone, women have been advancing peace education in schools and empowering wives of traditional leaders to promote sustainable preventive approaches in communities.

Cameroonian women have been more involved in all the processes of conflict prevention and the promotion, consolidation, and reconstruction of peace and security (Advocates for Human Right 2014). Women by their nature and role have some useful quality for peace building. Cameroonian women have been able to mobilize their communities for development and peace building by encouraging members to bring change through peacemaking and mediate at various levels of conflict to seek lasting solution to the conflict (UNESCO, 2003). 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The adoption of the United Nation Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 in October 2000 together with other subsequent resolutions are significant milestones in integrating women’s experiences, concerns, issues and priorities and contributions in peace and security agenda of institutions and government (Cohn, 2008).

Its four pillars, participation, prevention, protection and relief and recovery provide the legal and political framework for addressing the concerns of women and girls in peace and security processes as well as advancing the threat to women’s relating to armed conflict. For instance, the resolution urges warring parties to take special precaution to prevent Gender Based Violence and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and crime related to sexual violence.

Although SCR 1325 is a significant mile stone to gender equality in peace building, critiques have question the resolution on the bases of its applicability to non arm violence related consequences of war on women (Santos et al, 2013); its failure to address the several causes of inequality that render women as victims of war (Otto, 2006), and a systemic limitation to gender equality (Varynen, 2004). Critics of the resolution have equally worried about its adaptation to specific indigenous understanding of what constitute threat to security and approaches to address women’s security needs in conflict situations.

This study anchors on the latter worry. Using the case of Internally Displaced Person (IDPs), the study seeks to investigate whether women’s perceived threats to their security and approaches adapted to addressing their security concerns are in line with the understanding of women’s security as articulated in the UNSCR 1325. The study equally examines the contributions of selected humanitarian organizations to women’s IDPs vis a via their perceived security needs and Cameroon women perception of, and approaches to peace building within the context of the ongoing crisis in the English Speaking Regions. In specific terms, the study sets out to answer the following questions:

1.3 Main Research Question

What is the UNSCR 1325 and women IDPs perception of and strategies to peace and security in the Buea Municipality?

1.3.1 Specific Research Question

  1. What do women perceive as threat to their peace and security in the context of the ongoing crisis in the English speaking Regions?
  2. How do women’s perceive threat to security aligns with the understanding of women’s security needs as defined by SCR 1325?
  3. What are the strategies employed by women IDPs in addressing the security needs in the context of the ongoing crisis Anglophone Cameroon?
  4. To what extent are interventions by some selected organizations attuned to the perceived needs of female IDPs?

1.4 General Research Objective

To describe the UNSCR 1325 and women IDPs perceptions of and strategies to peace and security in the Buea Municipality.

1.4.1 Specific Research Objectives

  1. To describe the demographic profile of respondents and examine women’s perception of threat to their peace and security in the context of the ongoing crisis in the English speaking Regions.
  2. To examine if women’s perceive threat to security aligns with the understanding of women’s security needs as defined by SCR 1325.
  3. To describe strategies employed by women IDPs in addressing the security needs in the context of the ongoing crisis Anglophone Cameroon.
  4. To evaluate the extent are interventions by some selected organizations attuned to the perceived needs of female IDPs

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