On Saturday 23 November the people of Bougainville (an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea) started voting in a referendum on Bougainville’s political future. There are two options on offer – independence or greater autonomy. This vote marks a key moment in the Bougainville peace process, but does not mark the end of the process.
As Bougainville continues on its journey in implementing its peace agreement, Conciliation Resources has strengthened its relationship with one of the island’s foremost peace advocates, Sister Lorraine Garasu.
It’s now almost two decades since the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement – an agreement that ended nearly a decade of violent conflict and saw the creation of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville within Papua New Guinea. Significant progress towards peace has been made in the region, but legacies of the conflict still present challenges – including for former combatants and the communities they live in.
Based on analysis of three contexts (Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Colombia) this report explores how gender inclusion – meaningful participation at all levels of decision making, regardless of a person’s gender identity – is negotiated in elite-led peace processes and political settlements in conflict-affected contexts, and how international and national actors can support it effectively.
Women’s civil society activism in Bougainville has not always been well reflected in decision-making processes; however the political transition following the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 has provided opportunities for greater inclusion. This report explores how gender dynamics shape decision-making, power and influence in Bougainville, in particular how formal and customary structures impact inclusion. It also looks at the approaches and strategies Bougainvillean women have used to increase their agency and influence within formal, faith and customary institutions.
Community leaders from across central and north Bougainville have spent much of the past month developing their peacebuilding skills, with training from the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation (NCFR), supported by Conciliation Resources.