Participation of women in peacebuilding in the cross border conflict between the Luo of upper Nyakach and Kipsigis of Sigowet Sub-Counties: 1963-1992
Akinyi, Eunice Ochieng’
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This study examined the participation of women in peace building and reconciliation in cross border conflicts between the Luo of Upper-Nyakach and Kipsigis of Sigowet Sub-Counties respectively after independence. The objectives of this study were to trace the causes and nature of conflict between Luo and Kipsigis; to examine the involvement of women in management of conflicts between Luo and Kipsigis and challenges women have faced in management of conflicts between Luo and Kipsigis. This study was carried out in Upper Nyakach and Sigowet. Two locations were purposively sampled. This study was guided by gender theory which articulates the social construction of relationships in society. It views the role of women as socially defined without any bearing to their biological differences.Data was collected using oral interviews and focus group discussions. Once the data was collected, it was analysed qualitatively. This study has revealed that conflicts between Luo and Kipsigis began before the advent of colonialism and have continued in the post-independence period due to a myriad of factors. Some of the common causes of these conflicts include boundary disputes, struggle to control pastureland, cattle rustling, negative ethnicity, political differences, proliferation of crude and sophisticated weapons, poverty, as well as depletion of natural resources. The respondents pointed out cattle rustling as the primary cause of the recurrent conflicts between Luo and Kipsigis. This study found out that conflicts have increased considerably between Luo and Kipsigis in the post-independence period due to the commercialization of cattle theft and the aforementioned factors. As noted by most of the respondents, it has been difficult to find a lasting solution to these conflicts because of recurrent cattle theft, which often leads to retaliatory attacks. Moreover, there is lack of commitment of the government security machinery to take punitive measures against cattle rustlers and perpetrators of violence. In terms of women participation in peace building and reconciliation, this study has revealed that Luo and Kipsigis women have initiated and are currently implementing many innovative strategies that have been instrumental in preventing and resolving conflicts between these two communities. Nonetheless, women’s participation in peace building is not yet properly entrenched because of myriad social, cultural, economic, and political constraints. These challenges need to be addressed to enable women have an equal chance to participate in peace building and reconciliation. There should be gender mainstreaming in all peace building and reconciliation processes.