The Gendered Construction of Reparations: An Exploration of Women's Exclusion from the Niger Delta Reintegration Processes
15 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 2016
The Niger Delta is located in the South-south region of Nigeria. Oil exploration and exploitation by the multinational oil companies led to environmental degradation. The agitations among the inhabitants for environmental protection led to a protracted conflict between the Nigerian security forces and the militant groups in the region. Amnesty, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) were adopted in the region to resolve the conflict by the government. The Niger Delta post-conflict DDR processes were gendered: exclusion of women from the peace processes was a major concern for peacebuilding actors and academics in the region. Men were significantly favoured in the DDR peacebuilding processes because they belonged to militant groups. The roles played by women in the conflict were not however recognised; these included roles in demonstrations, strikes, campaigns, lobbies, and as carers, nurses and cooks. Women have therefore sought redress in the peacebuilding processes. This study aims to identify roles played by men and women in the Niger Delta conflict. It examines methods of conflict resolution adopted in the region and also investigates the reason why women were largely excluded from the DDR processes. Recognition Theory is used in this study to examine the institutionalised norms that make gender inclusion in the Niger Delta peacebuilding processes problematic. Recognition theory considers equal treatment to be an important part of a just society, while distributive justice theorists believe that economic goods and wealth must be shared equally. This study was carried out in the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Niger Delta region, Nigeria, in three selected communities: Okerenkoko; Egwa; and Oporoza. A qualitative method involving in-depth interviews was used to collect data from 24 participants. I report that many men and women participated in the conflict but a small number of women (0.6%) were included in the DDR peacebuilding processes. I find that men and women demand that reparations should be considered in addition to the reintegration process that has been adopted in the Niger Delta. Furthermore, I find that apart from patriarchal culture, DDR operational norms only focus on security and not on human rights. I conclude that men’s and women’s rights could be recognized through the combination of DDR and reparations rights in the Niger Delta peacebuilding processes. This article is published as part of a collection on gender studies.
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