The Forgotten Half of the African Sky

It is women who have suffered the most in Africa's numerous conflicts over the past 50 years. Yet efforts to avert such conflicts routinely exclude women, making wars on the continent more likely – most immediately in Côte d’Ivoire.

NAIROBI - In Kenya, my home country, there is a popular saying that when two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers. Nowhere is that more evident than in the numerous conflicts Africa has seen in the past 50 years.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, marauding gangs purporting to be freedom fighters, and the government armies they fight, have for decades used rape as a weapon against defenseless women. Following the end of the Rwandan genocide, the heavy burden of rebuilding a devastated society was borne by the country's women.

Yet, when it comes to efforts to avert such crises, African women often get left out. Consider the African Union's current efforts to find a solution to the post-election political impasse in Côte d'Ivoire. Of the five African leaders picked at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to coordinate negotiations, not one was a woman.

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