Breaking the Inertia : Women's Role in Mediation and Peace Processes in West Africa
A Brief historical perspective will be presented on women’s involvement in mediation and peace processes. The paper will then focus on women’s roles during the conflict situations in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Women’s involvement, in these two countries, provides a striking model of how women were able to work against the odds in these very destructive wars despite the patriarchal nature of these societies that positioned women as second class citizens and made them virtually voiceless. In these two countries the examples of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Hon Elizabeth Lavalie who demonstrate the impact that competent and empowered women can make when they are in the hierarchy of decision-making. The next section of the paper examines the challenges that women face in participating fully in mediation and peace processes. Finally, the paper will offer some suggestions on how we can increase women’s representation in peace processes and how to integrate their views and efforts seamlessly at the negotiation table.