UW-Madison team studies Africa’s female peace-builders

The Center for Research on Gender and Women was established in 1977 as part of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, to advance knowledge about gender women both in the US and globally.

Professor Aili Mari Tripp. (Photo courtesy of Aili Mari Tripp)
Professor Aili Tripp. (Photo courtesy of Aili Tripp)

Aili Mari Tripp, Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, will head a team to study the role of women in peacebuilding in Africa, funded by a collaborative research grant of $961,600 that was recently awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This research project will be administered by UW’s Center for Research on Gender and Women as part of a consortium that includes the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, and Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange, in Kampala, Uganda. The consortium includes nine seasoned researchers who will be working in Somalia, Algeria, northern Nigeria, South Sudan, and Sudan. The researchers themselves include scholars and women’s rights activists from Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Norway and the United States/Finland.

The two-year project, which starts July 1, 2016, looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace talks, peacebuilding, and political institutions in countries affected by war in Africa. The study includes regions with predominantly Muslim populations, with the exception of South Sudan.

Tripp explained in an interview that “Such questions of political inclusion have not been extensively researched in predominantly Muslim countries that have suffered from extremist violence. Yet women and advocates of women’s rights have not only been among the first attacked by extremists, but they have also been among the most ardent opponents of this type of extremism. Women’s rights activists are often the staunchest advocates not only for women’s rights but also for broader democratic, legal and social reforms.”

The three themes that make up the project include: 1) Inclusion and Exclusion of Women in Postconflict Governance (Somalia and Algeria), 2) Women Activists’ Informal Peacebuilding Strategies (South Sudan and Northern Nigeria) and 3) Women’s Legal Rights as a Site of Contestation in North Africa (Sudan and Algeria).

Peace dove statue in Lome, Togo
Peace dove statue in Lome, Togo. (Photo by Jeff Attaway)

The project will examine the struggle for women’s rights legal reform and political representation as important arenas for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa. It looks at women’s informal peacebuilding strategies and prospects for their inclusion in formal peace processes. The study will examine the policy implications for ongoing conflict elsewhere in Africa and in the Middle East.

As Professor Tripp explained: “We plan on using our findings and policy recommendations to engage policymakers at the international and national level in these countries as well as to provide opportunities for women’s rights activists and scholars to interact around these issues with one another.”

For more information, contact Professor Aili Tripp at atripp@wisc.edu.