UW’s Tripp to lead team examining role of women in peace-building in Africa

An international team of experienced researchers will examine women’s role in peace-building in Africa, supported by $961,600 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Aili Mari Tripp

Aili Mari Tripp

 The two-year project, which begins July 1, will be administered by the Center for Research on Gender and Women at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and led by Aili Mari Tripp, UW–Madison professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies.

The project consortium also includes the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, and Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange, in Kampala, Uganda.

The researchers include scholars and women’s rights activists from Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Norway, United States and Finland. They will be conducting research in Somalia, Algeria, northern Nigeria, South Sudan, and Sudan.

The project looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace talks, peacebuilding, and political institutions in countries affected by war in Africa. The study focuses on regions with predominantly Muslim populations, with the exception of South Sudan.

“Such questions of political inclusion have not been extensively researched in predominantly Muslim countries that have suffered from extremist violence,” Tripp explains.

“Yet women and advocates of women’s rights have not only been among the first attacked by extremists, but they have also been among the most ardent opponents of this type of extremism. Women’s rights activists are often the staunchest advocates not only for women’s rights but also for broader democratic, legal and social reforms.”

The project’s three themes are:

  • Inclusion and exclusion of women in post-conflict governance (Somalia and Algeria)
  • Women activists’ informal peace-building strategies (South Sudan and Northern Nigeria)
  • Women’s legal rights as a site of contention in North Africa (Sudan and Algeria)

The researchers will examine the struggle for women’s rights, legal reform, and political representation as important arenas for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa. They will look at women’s informal peace-building strategies and prospects for their inclusion in formal peace processes.

The study will examine policy implications for ongoing conflict elsewhere in Africa and in the Middle East.

“We plan on using our findings and policy recommendations to engage policymakers at the international and national level in these countries as well as to provide opportunities for women’s rights activists and scholars to interact around these issues with one another,” Tripp says.