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Post-conflict reconstruction in Rwanda: uncovering hidden factors in the gender policy context

Smith, Alyson (2014) Post-conflict reconstruction in Rwanda: uncovering hidden factors in the gender policy context. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Post-conflict reconstruction (PCR) policies often highlight gender issues during the agenda setting stage, but they largely fall off policy agendas as PCR processes advance. Interestingly, Rwanda is a counter-example to this trend. In 1994, Rwanda experienced a horrific genocide that caused a complete breakdown of the state. At that time, a new government, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) under the leadership of Paul Kagame, came into power. During the PCR period, gender policies were deemed a priority by the new government and this resulted in gains for women in several areas. The fact that Rwanda has a majority female parliament, for example, has resulted in significant international attention to Rwanda. Much of the credit for these gains and for putting gender issues on the PCR agenda has been given to the RPF and Kagame. However, is political will (as it is often described) a sufficient explanation for the post-conflict gender policy focus? I argue that it is not. By situating this research within a theoretical framework that draws upon feminist theoretical propositions, literature that questions the PCR dynamics of international aid and political outcomes, and Rwanda-specific literature, a fuller explanation of Rwanda’s PCR gender policy focus emerges. The evidence suggests that whilst political will was undoubtedly important, it is only one of five key factors: a majority female population, grassroots actions on the part of women, international aid, and the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women were also drivers behind this policy focus. However, these factors have largely been rendered invisible within PCR analysis on Rwanda. In this research I seek to explain why these factors were critical to setting the stage for a PCR gender policy focus and how this policy focus has been subsumed under a highly political agenda over the last two decades.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Alyson Smith
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Meagher, Kate

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