This qualitative research and action project argues that facilitation processes used in an activist capacity, implemented at a grassroots level, allow a more accurate and substantive inclusion of women’s voices in peace-building in areas of violent armed conflict. Specifically, an approach based on empowerment through community dialogues to promote activist participation brings forward the women’s voices that are silenced and obscured by the victim narrative prominent amidst the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This approach builds on traditional conflict resolution practices within a culture that embraces respect for women based upon age and motherhood. I propose that facilitating participatory and collaborative group information sharing and problem solving at the ground level aimed at identifying priorities, articulating the importance of these identified priorities, mediating difficulties and barriers among themselves in a cohesive way, allowed the women of the DRC to develop a course of action to pursue a dialogue with local, national and, ultimately, international decision-making bodies, thus becoming relevant stakeholders in the peace-building processes directly affecting their lives. The course of action is bottom-up, grassroots conflict resolution activism presenting women’s needs in their own words and on their own terms. The process was proposed to grassroots women’s organizations in eastern DRC through focus group interactions to determine need and feasibility for in-country action, and undertaken with DRC asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants in South Africa as part of an ongoing grant-funded initiative.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christina_mitchell/2/