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Post-conflict women's movements in turmoil: the challenges of success in Liberia in the 2005-aftermath*

  • Petra Debusscher (a1) and Maria Martin de Almagro (a2)

In Liberia, women's advocacy has been crucial in bringing peace after 14 years of conflict as well as in electing Africa's first female president. While the accomplishments of the women's movement have been widely praised, some authors have suggested that the once vibrant movement is crumbling. In this article we claim that one of the most important challenges for the Liberian women's movement comes precisely from its internationally proclaimed success, provoking four related outcomes: First, different women's organisations compete for the credit of the success story; second, the national government has tried to appropriate the movement and integrate it into governmental structures; third, the relationship between the movement and its international partners has evolved towards mutual disappointment due to a lack of sustainable funding and unmet expectations; and fourth, the movement seems stuck in the peacemaker label and unable to redefine itself to engage in new battles as international aid diminishes.

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The authors are grateful to the editors of JMAS and to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable input and insightful comments. The authors also thank the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), the Fondation Wallonie-Bruxelles Internationale, the Fondation Van Buuren and the Fondation De Meurs for providing the funding that enabled this research.

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