The Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program curriculum fuses theory and practice, with each student developing an intervention project through which she into practice skills and knowledge learned. Roselyne Onunga (top photo, at right), a 2015 graduate from Kenya, addressed conflicts between the Luo and Kalenjin communities involving land/boundary disputes and cattle theft along the Nyakach-Kericho border.
The previous year, 35 deaths were associated with the conflict. Onunga’s analysis revealed that, in her words, “the people who were involved in the fights were not involved in the community peace talks being held in the area.” With the support of her organization, Local Capacities for Peace International, and the district peace committee, Onunga organized a series of meetings between the two conflicting communities. She first served as a mediator, going between huts due to the refusal of the representatives to sit together. Eventually, the representatives formed an effective and collaborative cross-border committee, the result of their actions being no conflict-related deaths between these communities in 2015.
In addition, she facilitated civic education trainings, which resulted in the construction of the community’s first road as well as local political representation. Now more confident and skilled, Onunga is focusing on mentoring young women who will run for public office.
“Many people think that peacebuilders should not hold office,” she says, “but I tell them peacebuilding and political ambitions go hand in hand. In fact, peacebuilders should have the opportunity to involve themselves in political positions so they are able to make changes in governance.”