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In the Rain and in the Sun: Women in Peacebuilding in Liberia
Unformatted Document Text:  In the Rain and in the Sun: Women in Peacebuilding in Liberia 1 Jennifer Pedersen 2 Aberystwyth University ISA Annual Convention 2008 Panel WB54 “Violence, Bodies, and Selves II: Conflict, Human Security, and International Politics” Comments welcome. Work in progress; please do not cite without permission. Abstract For fourteen years women in Liberia bore the brunt of two brutal wars characterized by the use of child soldiers, mass displacement, sexual violence, and extreme poverty. At the height of the Liberian conflict in 2003, Liberian women from all walks of life united to form a Mass Action for Peace. Calling for a cessation of hostilities and a role for women at the peace talks, the members of the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), a network of community-based women’s groups, challenged patriarchal power relations and encouraged all parties to recognize the important and legitimate role of women in peacebuilding. Their strategy of “women’s peace activism” focused on numerical strength and mass-mobilization and included marches, vigils, symbolic dress, and media campaigns. After the arrival of UN peacekeepers in the fall of 2003, WIPNET continued to campaign for increased representation of women in politics, partnered with the United Nations Mission in Liberia on the disarmament programme, and worked to increase the number of women registering to vote in the 2005 elections. This paper examines the actions of WIPNET-Liberia from 2003 – 2007 and how its strategy of “women’s peace activism” affected the peace process and women’s political participation in Liberia. Introduction In 2003, at the height of the second Liberian civil war, the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) mobilized thousands of women in a Mass Action for Peace. Through their culturally-specific strategy of “women’s peace activism,” WIPNET presented a visible and vocal challenge to militarism and structural violence. In addition to 1 The interviews cited in this paper were conducted in Monrovia, Liberia in March 2006, following a Canadian government-funded internship with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in Accra, Ghana. I would like to thank the staff at WANEP and the women of WIPNET-Liberia for their assistance during my fieldwork, especially Leymah Gbowee, Lindora Howard, Ecoma Alaga and Cecelia Danuweli. 2 Research student in the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Wales. I can be contacted at ## email not listed ##

Authors: Pedersen, Jennifer.
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In the Rain and in the Sun:
Women in Peacebuilding in Liberia
Jennifer Pedersen
Aberystwyth University
ISA Annual Convention 2008
Panel WB54 “Violence, Bodies, and Selves II: Conflict, Human Security, and
International Politics”
Comments welcome. Work in progress; please do not cite without permission.
Abstract
For fourteen years women in Liberia bore the brunt of two brutal wars characterized by the use of
child soldiers, mass displacement, sexual violence, and extreme poverty. At the height of the
Liberian conflict in 2003, Liberian women from all walks of life united to form a Mass Action for
Peace. Calling for a cessation of hostilities and a role for women at the peace talks, the members
of the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), a network of community-based women’s
groups, challenged patriarchal power relations and encouraged all parties to recognize the
important and legitimate role of women in peacebuilding. Their strategy of “women’s peace
activism” focused on numerical strength and mass-mobilization and included marches, vigils,
symbolic dress, and media campaigns. After the arrival of UN peacekeepers in the fall of 2003,
WIPNET continued to campaign for increased representation of women in politics, partnered
with the United Nations Mission in Liberia on the disarmament programme, and worked to
increase the number of women registering to vote in the 2005 elections. This paper examines the
actions of WIPNET-Liberia from 2003 – 2007 and how its strategy of “women’s peace activism”
affected the peace process and women’s political participation in Liberia.
Introduction
In 2003, at the height of the second Liberian civil war, the Women in Peacebuilding
Network (WIPNET) mobilized thousands of women in a Mass Action for Peace. Through
their culturally-specific strategy of “women’s peace activism,” WIPNET presented a
visible and vocal challenge to militarism and structural violence. In addition to
1
The interviews cited in this paper were conducted in Monrovia, Liberia in March 2006, following a
Canadian government-funded internship with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in
Accra, Ghana. I would like to thank the staff at WANEP and the women of WIPNET-Liberia for their
assistance during my fieldwork, especially Leymah Gbowee, Lindora Howard, Ecoma Alaga and Cecelia
Danuweli.
2
Research student in the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Wales. I can be
contacted at


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