Complex conflicts and humanitarian disasters continue to devastate communities around the world as well as impede the development and well-being of countries. Usually, women are the ones who suffer the most harm from these crises by bearing the brunt of violence and paying a larger price for the destruction. The result is a rise in gender-based violence and discrimination as well as a decline in gender-sensitive programming and structures. Participation of women is increasingly viewed as essential to long-lasting peace. However, women are still not included in political decision-making and as a result, peace accords seldom address specific female issues. Specifically, this research investigates
the sociocultural perspective of women’s participation in peacebuilding and leadership in South Central Somalia, to find out factors that hinder or promote women’s participation in peacebuilding and leadership in South Central Somalia. The study targeted key stakeholders and peace ambassadors within the study area. Six focus group discussions (FGDS) and 15 interviews are conducted to provide data for our research objective.
The study concluded that the involvement of women in peace initiatives has made immense contributions in facilitating the shift toward a culture of peace by introducing gendered perspectives and analysis into all areas of conflict prevention. Women have actively participated in the short-term prevention of conflict by carrying out tasks that serve as early warning systems to stop the escalation of violence. Some social expectations have had severe influence on women; influence that is exceedingly painful throughout a woman’s life. Because of this, women are less likely to strive in overcoming obstacles and shattering glass ceilings. The study highlighted three main obstacles that South Central Somalia women face when participating in the peacebuilding process and/or leadership. They include political hegemony, a lack of economic opportunity, and norms and customs.
The study recommends the need to strengthen women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and leadership in South Central Somalia. Furthermore, women should be empowered to participate in leadership roles in a majority of sectors; not just in politics but also in civil society and the corporate sector, to facilitate the creation of long-lasting peace amongst members of the communities. Young women in particular need to be supported and programs set aside to promote their leadership. This means that there is a need to recognize the courageous Somali women who are laying the foundation for future generations of female leaders in their region. It is also the time to normalize and ease the participation of women in public life. It is therefore important to provide women peacebuilders and their civil society networks the tools they need to facilitate their work in security into the formal settings of decision-making, illustrating the shared objectives of addressing the causes of conflict, preventing conflict and improving protection.