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Women Participation in Religious Peacebuilding

The study explored the barriers that women are confronted by in participating in religious peace building processes and recommendations were made to enhance their participation. Using an explanatory sequential mixed methods design, and a case of UCCSA (Eastlea) church, in Harare, Zimbabwe, the study involved a sample group of 33 participants. The study employed a mixed method approach combining a Likert type scale questionnaire survey and semi-structured interview. Data were gathered and analysed using the SPSS 11.5 software and Microsoft Excel and the responses confirmed that in spite of women being the majority at the church, there were low levels of women participation in their religious formal peace processes. The study’s findings revealed that women played roles as counsellors and advisors more than leadership roles within the dialogue, mediation and healing session religious peace building processes, with women still found absent within the negotiation processes. This was linked to the major barriers that manifested which included the lack of support of other women, lack of self-confidence found in the women, male domination of leadership roles and some church doctrines prohibiting them to participate fully. The study recommended that religious institutions create an environment that encourages women participation in peace processes by involving female youth members to also participate in religious peace building processes and together with the manyano (women’s fellowship), female reverends and women congregants to be trained regularly on peace building skills.

Key Words: Women, Peacebuilding, Religion, Culture, and Tradition