Akin Iwilade


This paper interrogates the role of women in peace talks in Africa. It addresses the exclusion of women and their peculiar interests from deliberations aimed at constructing a post conflict state framework that resolves the contradictions that incite violent conflict and provides safeguards against recurrence. The paper argues that the failure of peace talks to deliberately incorporate women interests detracts from their potential to effectively confront the questions of post conflict rebuilding. It notes the increasing inclusion of women but argues that this does not amount to gender representation. This is because at the heart of the inclusion is the requirement of female participants to represent non-gendered interests of class, ethnicity, religion as the case may be. In the light of this, it is contended that to the extent that their claim to power derives from their social navigation of the structures of power through relationships with men, their representation can only reinforce the very basis of women’s subordinate status. Going further, the paper challenges the argument for feminizing peace talks in Africa. It considers this as reverse chauvinism and calls instead for incorporation. In concluding, it is contended that peace talks need to be democratized and female representation placed within the broader context of social challenges. This approach will prevent the undue reification of gender - read women - interests with the consequence of heightening the “sex wars” in ways that does not add value to democratic incorporation.

Author Biography

Akin Iwilade is a graduate student of the Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He has won grants and awards from many organisations including the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the Imani Centre for Policy and Education, Ghana and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Senegal. His research interests are in civil society, African politics and democratisation and he has published several papers in that area.