Gendering transitional justice processes in Africa: a feminist advocacy approach to truth commissions

by Elias O. Opongo

25 May 2021
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
18 (pp. 35-52)

Abstract: Highlighting the place and role of women in transitional justice processes draws attention to two main aspects: the need for a holistic approach to transitional justice processes, and paying attention to the sensitive nature of gender-based violence in the whole cycle of truth commissions from articulation of the mandate of the commission, composition of the commissioners, categorisation of crimes, to the writing and implementation of the final report. A feminist advocacy approach to transitional justice is framed under a critical feminist strategy that draws attention to diverse forms of human rights violations against women in situations of conflict; structures of exclusion of women’s concerns; the agency and presence of women in truth commission processes. Hence, discourse on gendering transitional justice processes has recently emerged, especially given that women have been targeted in conflict situations, giving rise to sexual and gender-based violence, and indiscriminate killing of women despite their non-combatant role. This article discusses the extent of marginalisation of cases of women’s gross human rights violations in truth commission processes, while acknowledging positive attempts made so far, through critical feminism, to include women’s concerns in these processes.

Keywords: Transitional justice; feminism, critical feminism, truth commissions, gender, gendering, sexual and gender-based violence, human rights violations.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 2 (Transitional Justice Discourse in Post-Conflict Societies in Africa).

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