Home Institution

Harvard University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


There are certain themes that must be at the core of peacebuilding, gender is one of them. This study aims to answer if the field of peacebuilding adequately addresses the issue of gender in their African missions.The thesis argues that by approaching peacebuilding efforts through a gendered lens, actors are able to increase the chance of creating sustainable peace. This independent study looks at the role gender currently plays and should play in peacebuilding efforts in Africa. Moreover, it outlines where the gaps between policy and implementation exist on the topic. The research seeks to answer three main points: What are the implications of having a gendered approach to peacebuilding beyond gender? What would a “true” gendered peacebuilding mission look like? Are we using the wrong approach based on the context of the continent? Research for this project included a practicum at ACCORD during the ISP period. The topic of gender in peacebuilding continues to be a work in progress in the field. That being said, the project seeks to provide the reader with an overview on gender in peacebuilding that highlights its importance and makes suggestions on how to include a gendered lens. The information retrieved for this study came from secondary sources, participatory observations, and interviews. All of these methods were used during the practicum. Despite comprehensive policies and vocal commitments to having gender conscious peacebuilding efforts, implementation and action is, for the most part, non-existent. The study found that current approaches to gender do not address the ideology behind it, making it impossible to change its dynamics. Furthermore, there is no picture as to what an ideal gendered approach looks like, no recognition of men’s role in gender issues, and no effort to have local ownership around the subject. In conclusion, we find that the concept of peacebuilding does not adequately address gender in Africa. Two ways to change this would be to change the narrative and increasing education on the subject.


African Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies