Interrogating the Changing Masculinities & the Post Conflict

Interrogating the Changing
Masculinities & the Post Conflict
Recovery Process in Northern Uganda
Amon Ashaba Mwiine
School of Women & Gender Studies
Makerere University
 There is little currently documented about how men in post
war situations in Uganda react to, negotiate with, and
counter the demands imposed on them.
 Yet the impact of armed conflict can never be assumed to be
gender neutral.
Amon Ashaba Mwiine
 Northern Uganda is emerging from a brutal conflict since the
mid-1980s with enormous economic impact, destroying
infrastructure, markets, investment and livelihoods;
drastically altering the demographic and skills base of the
 the war period was characterised by ruptures in the traditional
and social fabric of communities
 Changing gender relations (changing roles, resource bases,
statuses and future aspirations)
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 For women;
 war forced women to enter trade/business, albeit on small
 Shoulder household provisioning
 Consequent shift in household power relations/dynamics
(Ahikire, et al 2011).
 an expansion of women’s activities, mobility and public
presence, which has influenced the nature of women’s economic
participation in the postwar era
 Women responding to pressures of armed conflict to challenge
traditional social roles (Esuruku, 2011)
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 For men
 Traditional masculinity posited them as fighters, engaged in war - most men
died or risked abductions (narrative that promotes Victimhood Vis-àvis Perpetration)
The war had a demobilising effect on men - movement was curtailed,
they resorted to drinking alcohol as a way to occupy themselves ( Ahikire, et
al, 2011).
Hence the war fundamentally reversed household roles (Esuruku, 2011)
notable post war male relative absence in Household Provisioning
the normalization of negative masculinities - men lost the major sources of
their generative power (Dolan; 2009 - collapsing Masculinities)
What is left for most of these men is to hold onto the destructive power of
dominance and violence – Increased GBV (Ahikire, et al, 2011)
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Realities of men
How have post conflict recovery programmes focused on
these realities of men?
Changing realities of gender norms and relations e.g.
change in livelihoods, role reversals, status dynamics, etc,
lead to questioning familiar narratives and development
sector programming.
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Programming for Men??
 PRDP appraisal 2008 indicates that: PRDP makes hardly any references to the
different situations for women and men despite the existence of numerous studies
showing patterns of female vulnerability and loss of male status
 PRDP 2: Main causes of conflict
 Land Conflicts (48%)
 DomesticViolence (16%)
 Food Insecurity (10%)
 Alcohol & drug abuse; Child neglect & Abuse;
 Income poverty remains twice the national average
 There are increasing calls to “involve men” to ensure empowerment of women in
Northern Uganda
 There are noted cases of men failing to return home even after the war.
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Programming for Men??
 The focus on gender either predominantly focuses on women or
looks at men as perpetrators of conflict, property grabbers or
perpetrators of GBV against women (Dolan, 2009; Cleaver,
 Preventing intimate partner violence with Responsible, Engaged and
Loving (REAL) Fathers (USAID – Amuru Northern Uganda)
 Men have to change, men are the problem, they are drinking too
much – language of blame
 “Men snick in from town and steal from us - KII”
 Men are implicitly labelled
 “have no economic initiatives in contrast to women
 Explicitly described as failing
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Dominant narratives
 Men are the problem
 Men must change
 Women are victims of
men’s failures; SGBV,
Alcoholism – Victimhood
Vs Perpetration
 Involve men, as the ‘other
 Women’s resilience
espousing masculine values
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Examine the
changes in
and their
impact on the
process in
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• Explore the changes in masculinities during
and after the armed conflict in northern
• Assess the impact of changes in masculinities
on post-conflict recovery programmes
• Examine the coping strategies of men
towards the changing power relations.
• Identify feasible options to involve men in
post-conflict recovery programmes to ensure
gender equity development outcomes.
On Changing Masculinities
 Conflicts offer a critical test to the concept of changing
masculinity given;
 Changes in spaces (migration),
 changing gender division of labor,
 access and control over resources,
 Or social disintegration - loss of livelihood, destruction of
property, loss of cultural values, low social capital, deprivation or
at times a sense of stigma (Dolan, 2009; 2010)
 Men no longer conforming to hegemonic model of masculinity-
(Dolan 2009 on collapsing masculinities)
 Women espousing masculinities (International Alert, 2010)
 Men’s vulnerability in post war ignored (Esuruku, 2011)
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 Pader District – Acholi sub Region
 Qualitative methods of data collection, analysis and presentation
Documenting life histories with male elders in communities
(elderly men)
In-depth discussions (development actors in PRDP Process)
Focus Group Discussions (Men/ women in target community )
Secondary data analysis
Sub counties: Pajule and Puranga
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Preliminary Voices –
Emerging from below – women espousing masculine
 During the war, all people were confined in the camp.We had so many
NGOs giving us training on gender issues and women empowerment.
Women took that knowledge and started coming up. But men on the other
hand were left out. All the knowledge we have got on gender has not gone
to the men. As a result most men are opposed to what women are now doing
(Female respondent – Production officer)
 When people were in camps, men feared to go out in the bushes.
They would send you to go and do this and that (collect food, look
for water, harvest in the gardens). Men feared Kony so much
because he was killing and abducting most of them (Female
Councilor – Pader town council).
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Preliminary Voices
To return or not to return (Physical and Psychological
return to the former…)
 The war put us in camps, men became redundant while the
women did all the house work – looking for food and
preparing the food. After the camp life, women went back to
communities but men refused to go back home. They are still
in town. They just go home to “steal” from the woman after
she has harvested and run back to the town.
 Men are no longer thinking of their families in future (Female
councilor, Pader town council).
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Preliminary Voices
Correlation btn women’s empowerment and male
perpetration of GBV
 The Insurgency changed a lot in the lives of women. As a
result of war, there have been many development partners
and CSOs who have come to assist us. Through their
trainings, there have been changes in the lives of women.
Women are taking up political leadership. Men have started
seeing women as big headed (Female respondent – Production
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Competing Discourses on masc. &
 Defending male privilege??
 Dealing with crisis in masculinity??
 Advancing gender equality (e.g., Men for Equality)
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