By Kristen Rucki
Mozambique’s devastating civil war ended in 1992 with a widely lauded peace agreement, but growing instability in recent years has threatened the sustainability of this peace. Following a ceasefire declared in December 2016, the country’s leaders are poised to negotiate a new peace agreement. Meanwhile, in the context of increased governmental policy commitment to gender inclusion, women in the country continue to organize and mobilize against sexual and domestic violence and other violations of their security.
A team from the Women, Peace, and Security Program at Columbia University recently traveled to Mozambique to find out more about women’s roles in building and sustaining peace. The program, run by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity, an affiliate of the Earth Institute, is dedicated to advancing our understanding of how women contribute to peacebuilding, both formally and informally, as well as the constraints that may limit the influence, visibility and impact of women peacebuilders worldwide.
The visiting team, including Executive Program Director Leymah Gbowee, Associate Program Director Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland and Coordinator Kristen Rucki, as well as consortium Director Josh Fisher, traveled to Maputo, Mozambique, to gain insight into the past and current state of women’s peacebuilding and organizing in Mozambique’s unique context.
Researchers from the Women, Peace and Security team believe that by learning about women’s everyday peace and security in the country, as well as women’s involvement in peacebuilding processes in Mozambique, the program can learn valuable lessons that will inform future research and educational programming. Further, they hope to establish research partnerships with Mozambican universities and civil society organizations to understand the challenges of fostering sustainable peace and security.
While in Maputo, the team met with governmental representatives, NGO personnel, civil society groups, students and community women leaders. In these meetings, the team learned about women’s involvement in formal and informal processes of peacebuilding currently and in the past, as well as women’s mobilization around related themes of economic justice, domestic violence and everyday security. In these conversations, the team asked specifically about the most pressing needs of women peacebuilders themselves, and potential future connections to the work of the Women, Peace and Security Program. The trip to Maputo represents the first step in a potential ongoing collaborative research project with stakeholders in Mozambique.
Kristen Rucki is a project coordinator with the Women, Peace and Security Program.