BRIDGE Report 44: Post-conflict Mozambique: Women's Special Situation, Population Issues and Gender Perspectives to be Integrated into Skills Training and Employment Promotion

Author: S. Baden
Publisher: Institute of Development Studies UK
Publication Date: Jun 1997
Do women experience war and its aftermath differently to men' Is it possible that conflict in Mozambique had a positive impact on gender relations' This study provides a gender perspective on employment, income generation and skills training in post-conflict Mozambique. During the war years, women's autonomy increased as they were often left entirely responsible for the household in their male partner's absence. Policies must ensure that such positive changes in gender relations are reinforced to avoid reverting to the traditional system of male advantage and superiority. Gender-sensitive consultations with communities are needed to ensure that women's concerns are fully integrated into future development activities.

The conflict in Mozambique disrupted families and communities. Many women remarried during the war years, uncertain of whether their husbands would survive or return. In some cases, husbands did return, which has resulted in complex dynamics within the household. In other cases, men abandoned their wives, leaving them solely responsible for earning money and taking care of the household. More research is needed to explore changes in household gender relations during and following the conflict. Development efforts must recognise the ways in which households have changed, and what the implications of these changes are for women. Before development activities are planned, the following findings should be considered:
- Changing composition of households. There are more female-headed households, and more dependants living in households (as many have taken in orphans), which causes increased pressure on women's time.
- Women and children are more visible in informal market activity and a range of activities to earn extra income (such as begging and prostitution).
- In some cases, women have become more independent (partly because of their increased economic activity) and more vocal in decision-making than they were before the war. . Despite women's increased independence, some reintegration programmes have reinforced the traditional gender norms of men as 'breadwinners'.
- The categories that certain reintegration programmes have created to deliver services (e.g. 'war-affected women') often can divide group of women within communities, are not reliable indicators of vulnerability, and are becoming increasingly irrelevant in the aftermath of war.
- Violence against women was widespread during war years, and remains to be recognised and addressed.

Considering the above, future policies should:
- Thoroughly consider how the conflict and its aftermath have affected gender relations in the household, community, economy, and politics at the outset, to ensure programmes build upon existing positive changes (e.g. increased autonomy for women) and rectify negative ones (e.g. increased pressure on women's time).
- Reformulate legal frameworks and social policies to safeguard the interests of women and children, especially single women. In particular, women need equal access to land and formal market jobs (at equal pay).
- Ensure that communities (particularly women) are carefully consulted in the formulation of programmes, rather than separating individuals into divisive target groups. Whenever possible, local experts should facilitate consultation, instead of foreigners who are unfamiliar with the community.
- Provide equal opportunities for women in access to education and health services, and discuss sensitive issues such as violence against women, trauma and mental health, within these programmes.