Women seek greater role in re­build­ing the Cen­tral African Repub­lic

Africa Renewal - - Contents - By Zip­po­rah Musau

The cur­rent se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic (CAR) is dire—a re­al­ity that has prompted women of the CAR to make one ur­gent re­quest to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity: to be in­cluded in the con­flict-stricken coun­try’s on­go­ing peace-build­ing process.

Even though the CAR has never known real peace since in­de­pen­dence in the 1960s, re­cent events have raised the level of tur­moil, start­ing in March 2013 when rebels seized power, set­ting off near geno­ci­dal acts of vi­o­lence be­tween Mus­lim and Chris­tian com­mu­ni­ties. A quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion, or about one mil­lion peo­ple, was dis­placed.

In Jan­uary 2014, when the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in­ter­vened to bring nor­malcy to the coun­try, a woman, Catherine Samba-Panza, was cho­sen as the in­terim pres­i­dent to lead the coun­try out of chaos.

Since then, no­table progress on se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal fronts has been made, although the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion re­mains un­sta­ble, with more than 2.7 mil­lion peo­ple out of a pop­u­la­tion of 4.6 mil­lion need­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance. Half a mil­lion of them are still dis­placed within the coun­try as in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons (IDPs), and a fur­ther half mil­lion have sought shel­ter as refugees in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

De­spite a woman in the pres­i­dency, grass­roots women of the CAR were largely left out of the peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion talks. When UN Deputy Emer­gency Re­lief Co­or­di­na­tor Kyung-wha Kang vis­ited the coun­try early this year, the women ex­pressed their frus­tra­tions, not just over the con­tin­u­ing lack of se­cu­rity but also their ex­clu­sion from the peace-build­ing and re­con­struc­tion pro­cesses.

“The women in the CAR want to rebuild lives that are sus­tain­able and safe. They want to over­come the sense of fear and vic­tim­i­sa­tion they are go­ing through,” said Ms. Kang, in an in­ter­view with Africa Re­newal. “With some sup­port and em­pow­er­ment, th­ese women could hold the key to un­lock­ing and lib­er­at­ing them­selves from fear and vic­tim­i­sa­tion.”

In times of vi­o­lence and law­less­ness, and even af­ter the vi­o­lence, women and chil­dren are the first to suf­fer. Ac­cord­ing to Ms. Kang, in a coun­try like the CAR where women are deeply ex­cluded, the cri­sis ex­ac­er­bates the dis­crim­i­na­tory so­cial struc­tures that had ex­isted prior to the con­flict.

Ms. Kang and her team, in­clud­ing the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the Hu­man Rights of In­ter­nally Dis­placed Per­sons, Chaloka Beyani, and the Direc­tor of Op­er­a­tions at the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Hu­man­i­tar­ian Aid and Civil Pro­tec­tion depart­ment, Mr. Jean-Louis de Brouwe, vis­ited dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the camps for IDPs, and were alarmed that the lines be­tween armed el­e­ments and civil­ians have be­come blurred in many dis­place­ment sites. The camps are un­pro­tected and armed el­e­ments min­gle with the IDPs freely. In­ci­dents of sex­ual and gen­der-based vi­o­lence against women and girls, par­tic­u­larly very young girls, are com­mon and much of it at­trib­uted to the armed el­e­ments.

She noted that it was not enough to just stop the war. The peace process has to go be­yond rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and ad­dress some of those root causes of the con­flicts in the coun­try, which can be a long process.

Amidst th­ese chal­lenges, the lack of re­sources con­tin­ues to ham­per ef­forts to pro­vide re­lief for the IDPs.

For full in­ter­view with Kyung-wha Kang visit http://www.un.org/africare­newal

OCHA/C. Ille­massene

UN Deputy Emer­gency Re­lief Co­or­di­na­tor Kyung-wha Kang (cen­tre) dur­ing her visit to the Cen­tral African Repub­lic in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.