Weaving peace in Bosnia

18 Mar 2011 13:40:11.703

PA 86/11

The revival of knitting clubs in the UK has created a new social scene for modern women, but in former war zones they’re being used to address war trauma and help reconstruct peace.

Research by an expert at The University of Nottingham has focused on how international aid agencies are sponsoring handicraft schemes run by women in countries like Bosnia and Liberia.

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Dr Vanessa Pupavac, from the School of Politics and International Relations, has been studying the role of woman as peace-keepers in these former war zones; Bosnia particularly. 

“In the last 20 years, international conflict management approaches have taken up the idea of women’s peacekeeping role,” explains Dr Pupavac. “International NGOs like International Alert have gender and peace-building programmes and lobbied governments to bring women into the peace processes.” The 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security was an important global statement affirming women’s role in peace building.

The idea of woman as peace-makers is not a new one — as other academics like Kathleen Herbert have pointed out — the term ‘peace-weaver’ traditionally refers to women who were married to bring enemy tribes together. The metaphor of women as peace weavers is being translated into real practical programmes. 

“Whether an Afghan Women’s Sewing Initiative, an African Amani Sewing and Reconciliation Project, or Burmese Weaving for Women project, it is striking how many NGOs support women at the loom or needle,” says Dr Pupavac. 

International sewing projects in Liberia, for example, have been directed towards helping 20,000 female fighters reintegrate into society.  

In Bosnia microenterprise schemes have been supported to help create livelihoods in a country which sits on an unemployment rate of some 40 per cent.  

“The knitting and weaving projects proved very popular among refugees during the war as a form of occupational therapy,” says Dr Pupavac. “However they are struggling to provide secure long-term livelihoods. One problem is the dwindling numbers of international peacekeepers in Bosnia who have been the key customers for the handwoven rugs and other handicrafts. Unfortunately most locals cannot afford the luxury of handicrafts. Such microenterprises need broader economic development to be viable.”

 — Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Vanessa Pupavac on +44 (0)115 951 14796, vanessa.pupavac@nottingham.ac.uk
  Andrew Burden

Andrew Burden - Digital Communications Manager

Email: andrew.burden@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8313 Location: University Park

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Published Date
Saturday 16th April 2011

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