Approximately 1.8 million northern Ugandans were internally displaced during conflict between the Ugandan government and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels (1987-2006). The ethnographic and qualitative research findings presented in this article illuminate the need to address structural violence, not just physical violence, in the aftermath of conflict, and to pay particular attention to how conflict and peacebuilding processes are gendered. Although gender-sensitive approaches to peacebuilding have increased in recent years, especially among scholars, in practice these processes often still fail to adequately address the myriad needs of survivors and to understand the complex interplay between gender, conflict, and post-conflict rebuilding. Instead, “gendered” peacebuilding efforts focus attention on physical sexual violence experienced by women during conflict as opposed to structural violence pervading conflict and the post-conflict period. For example, findings from research among Acholi and Langi, the two most prominent ethnic groups in northern Uganda, indicate that structural violence stemming from devastated economic livelihoods, poverty, ruptured sociocultural norms, and shifting gender roles exacerbate the effects of violent conflict and disproportionately affect women. Despite the prevalence of and participants’ concerns about structural violence, peacebuilders and policy-makers continue to emphasize and prioritize resolution of physical violence, such as rape. Based on primary research, this article explores the link between livelihood, peacebuilding efforts, and gender, and argues that gendering peacebuilding to address economic opportunity, land conflict, and other forms of pervasive structural violence is central to building sustainable peace in the region.
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