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Women and Development - Essay Example

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This paper looks at the struggles and collective struggles of African women across different ethnic lines while trying to survive civil (or inter-ethnic) war. The paper specifically looks at the ways in which, in times of civil war, working-poor women in Africa engage in various activities to help their families survive economic and/or political hardships…
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Women and Development
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Download file to see previous pages These women's groups are formed for many different reasons, be these purely social (through women's practical gendered interests, to arrange day care for children in communities directly affected by war, for example), economic (i.e., organizing labor teams when men are away from the home, fighting, for example, or arranging microfinance initiatives to develop their communities, for example) or more political (i.e., strategic gendered interests, as in Uganda, where women's groups pressurized parliament to effect the largest female political representation in the whole of Africa).
These different women's groups, aside from being formed for many different reasons, are, as we shall see, run differently and aim for different solutions, dependent on the particular set of problems present in the particular country under study. The following sections will look, through an analysis of ten different academic research papers (as listed in the References section), at specific cases of different political situations in different countries, and will analyze how women and women's groups have been formed in these situations, and how they have responded to these situations.
As a
As a general background to this paper, it should be noted that, as discussed in the Introduction to Part III of the 1997 book, Women's Voices, Women's Power: Dialogues of Resistance from East Africa, published by Broadview Press, much of African culture is rooted in the traditions of the past, with men's dominance over women explained, and justified, by reference to historical tradition and to cultural traditions: for example, in Marangoli, men are classed as the decision-makers, with men having rights of authority and power over women, as defined in their ideology. That women's groups arise within this historical (traditional) context, is a testament to the power of women, and their ingenuity in the face of severe trauma and tragedy.
Unfortunately, in many African countries, such as Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda or South Africa, the politicization of differences has often led to civil war or violent conflict, based on ethnic, racial, religious and other differences (Tripp, 2000). In countries such as these, for example, in Uganda, women's movements have arisen, which have conceptualized the relationship between gender and race/ethnicity/religion, in order to minimize such differences, to try to minimize the resulting violence (Tripp, 2000).
Women's movements are thought to be a significant force, in African countries, in terms of depoliticizing difference and searching for the common ground in situations where the politicization of difference has led to violence: for example, since the Rwandan genocidal tragedy, women's movements in that country have been instrumental in initializing contact between Tutsi's and Hutu's (Tripp, 2000). Even though women were not active participants in the genocide, the politicization of ethnicity and the orchestration of genocide and rape inflicted against the Tutsi, as well as the retributions for these events have left powerful resentments and strongly painful memories (Tripp, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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