Women’s overlooked contribution to Rwanda’s state-building conversations

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8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper does not directly engage the state-formation, political settlement and state-building debates in Africa but it foregrounds the notion of conversation as the lens through which to examine Rwanda’s state-building history. In particular, it explores an overlooked perspective from Rwanda’s state-building trajectory by focusing on a particular class of actors – women – whose voices also contributed to inter-elite and elite-society state-building from pre-colonial times. The paper examines how and why conversible spaces have been created in post-genocide Rwanda that are locally conceived yet given form by Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) elites. It shows that these spaces are progressions of a long history of state-building conversations in Rwanda that pre-date colonialism. The paper asks how and why have conversible spaces for peace and state-building evolved over time? To what extent do their contemporary form have the potential for being genuinely transformative? What do these processes mean for future peace and state building in Rwanda? In addressing these questions, this paper foregrounds women’s agency and contributions to state-building in Rwanda over time. It shows that while there is evidence that women’s agency has evolved from covert to overt spaces, limitations to women’s influence of peace-building and state-building conversations still exist particularly for those whose visions of society diverge from that of the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-499
Number of pages25
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


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