Although women’s instrumentality in peacebuilding is internationally recognized,
gendered meanings of peacebuilding are poorly understood. Our study was conducted
to learn from a diverse group of South African women what peacebuilding
means to them. Sixteen women gathered in Cape Town for a 2-day workshop that
used feminist participatory methods to gather data about women’s meanings of
peacebuilding. All talk was audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for content pertaining
to research questions and to identify thematic strands. For these workshop participants,
peacebuilding is a process, relationship building is crucial to its effectiveness,
and meeting basic human needs underlies its success. Women recognized their active
involvement in peacemaking and peacebuilding and, occasionally, in peacekeeping
and peace enforcing activities. They viewed their approaches often to be distinct from
men’s and believed the significance of their peacebuilding work is not adequately recognized
within South African patriarchal society.
Published when Prof de la Rey was a lecturer in psychology at the University of Cape Town.