by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Burundi is a country in the African Great Lakes of East Africa in the African continent with a population of 11.3 million.
The country’s economy is mostly dominated by subsistence agriculture which employs 90 percent of the country’s population.
Since gaining independence in 1962, the country has seen more than 40 years of armed violence and civil war.
Over the years, this has slightly seen a drop, however, today; political instability and unresolved grievances still continue to threaten inter-ethnic cooperation’s and security in the country.
In a country like this, maintaining peace is a real struggle for the people and law and order keepers.
But this is not the case for women mediators in the country.
Although security and peace is a threat in the country, more than 500 Burundian women have developed networks to help avert conflicts that arise in and around communities in the country.
The women mediators work with the Women Network for Peace and Dialogue, the UN Women’supported organisation in all cities in the country to help resolve conflicts that arise.
Last year, in the lead up to the elections, a new political and security crisis arose between the government and the opposition, has made the work of women mediators more crucial as the tension led to sporadic violence between the security forces and the protestors in the capital, Bujunbura.
The women mediators in their operations promote non-violence and dialogue, diffuse tension, and advocate for the release of demonstrators and political prisone’s.
The women mediators have by far from their operations have addressed over 5,000 conflicts at the local level and continue to advocate and help resolve conflicts.
The network has attracted many victims caught in conflicts for peaceful and better resolving process conducted by the women mediators.
According to UN Women Representative in Burundi, Jeermie Delage, “women play a lead role in early warning and conflict prevention and are at the core of conflict resolution”.