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The gendered consequences of war are often not fully realized, as women tend to carry the heavier burdens in post-conflict situations, yet at the same time can be left out…
The gendered consequences of war are often not fully realized, as women tend to carry the heavier burdens in post-conflict situations, yet at the same time can be left out of the formal peace process. Women can be part of the peace process informally through economic empowerment and sustainability. As most post-conflict situations are occurring in the developing world, one of the major issues in the peace process is the notion of a rescue narrative. Organizations from the developed world approach peacebuilding as a project that often disenfranchises and disempowers the people they are trying to help. Therefore, women must be empowered to contribute to their economic situations rather than becoming dependent on the help of outsiders. This amplifies the role of the follower by giving her the tools to be part of the solution and become self-sustainable.
This chapter argues for the role of social enterprise in building sustainable peace by giving women agency and power in their communities. It will look at these phenomena through the lens of a non-governmental organization, 31 Bits, that offers a valuable case study in the post-conflict Northern Uganda town of Gulu where they employ 100 plus women in a five-year program that equips them to become fully self-sustainable through the creation of jewelry handmade from recycled paper. Their holistic approach moves beyond the nonprofit model of charity and survival for giving their beneficiaries the chance to thrive. In this way, it is not relief or rescue work but rather informal sustainable peace development. When women are economically empowered, their communities are closer to reaching gender equality and achieving positive peace.