Confronted by civil war, women in the Central African Republic are creating inclusive initiatives to rebuild their homeland. From baking bread in Bangui to financing coffee and cake business across the country, the Central African Republic’s women are dedicated to strengthening both the country’s culture and its economy.
A History of Conflict in the Central African Republic:
The Central African Republic conflict is ongoing. The current conflict is the result of disputed peace agreements following the end of the Central African Republic Bush War in 2007. Since 2007, civil war has raged. Defined as a war between citizens of the same country, civil war involves high-intensity conflict on a large-scale. Civil war is often the result of unresolved political and religious tensions. Tension over religious identity between Christian anti-balaka and Muslim Séléka forces is a key factor in the Central African Republic Civil War.
Women in Conflict:
The United Nations acknowledges that women and girls suffer disproportionately during and after wars. Institutional and domestic inequality is worsened by war. Women, in times of conflict, are even more vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, sexual violence and marriage against their will.
The Bid to Rebuild a Country:
In their bid to rebuild the Central African Republic, many female-led organisations are committed to social change and long-term, nationwide stability. One group of female activists who call themselves ‘Femme Debout’, which translates as ‘Woman Standing’, support women regardless of their religious identity; together, Christian and Muslim women recover from their personal and collective trauma through creative and financially beneficial initiatives.
Baking in Bangui:
‘Femme Debout’ has provided essential funding for women-run businesses. Many of these investments benefit both the local economy and the people: education, medical care and food supplies, which can be scarce in times of war, are made accessible.
In the rebel-held city of Bamingui, Abaka’s Bakers are transforming their community with bread loaves. Abaka’s bakery promotes sisterhood and equality. This ambitious initiative instils, at a community-level, the idea that women can work and provide for their family: in this way, they are man’s equal.