Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Halmos College of Arts and Sciences - Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi


Social sciences education


The concept of ‘forgiveness’ in relation to sustainable peace has been extensively writtenabout. However, research shows that many organizations involved in peacebuilding have not actively adopted ‘forgiveness’ as they have done with restorative justice, healing, and reconciliation. Therefore it opens up an opportunity for further inquiry to identify the meaning and role of forgiveness in sustainable peacebuilding. Forgiveness is still being debated and the various meanings accorded by a variety of disciplines from religion, political, sociological, and conflict resolution practitioners, make it more complex. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate women’s lived experiences with ethnic violence post the 2007 elections in Kenya to seek to understand the meaning of forgiveness in that rural Kenyan community. The following research questions were investigated through the study: 1) How do women survivors make meaning of forgiveness following ethnic violence? 2) What was the women’s experience with 2007 post-election violence as the harm that was addressed by forgiveness? 3) What was the women’s experience with, and the process leading to forgiveness? 4) How has the decision to forgive transformed their life at individual, family, and community level? Lederach’s Theory of Conflict Transformation, the Human Needs Theory, and Constructivism are main theoretical frameworks that inform this research. Collected data was analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and showed that sustainable peace is at the intersection of forgiveness and transformation.