As the world looks on in horror at the bloodshed in Gaza, Mary Gahonzire brings a unique perspective to the role of women in peacemaking and reconciliation. Gahonzire is deputy commissioner of the Rwanda Correctional Service, which runs prisons in the country that 20 years ago was torn apart by 100 days of killing.
More than 800,000 people were killed. But Gahonzire says women were crucial in bringing an end to the violence and in building the post-genocide peace, despite thousands of women not only being widowed but then having to live alongside the people who had carried out the killing. "Women played a critical role as civic negotiators," says Gahonzire. For a decade after the genocide Rwanda used a form of justice called gacaca, or village courts, named after the grass on which they were held, and 45% of the mediators in these open public trials were women, she says.
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