This dissertation advocates for the role of social enterprise in building sustainable peace by giving women agency and power in their communities. It examines this phenomenon through the lens of a social enterprise non-governmental organization, 31 Bits, that offers a valuable case study in the post-conflict Northern Uganda town of Gulu where over 100 women have been employed in the last ten years in a five-year training program that equips them to become fully self-sustainable through the creation of jewelry handmade from recycled paper. The holistic approach moves beyond the nonprofit model of charity and survival to giving their beneficiaries the chance to thrive. In this way, it is not relief or rescue work but rather informal sustainable peace development. When women are economically empowered their communities are closer to reaching gender equality and achieving positive peace.

This qualitative research approach utilizes the phenomenology framework by gathering data through an interview process to measure the results of a business-training program through a social enterprise. Overall impact shows an advancement of women in leadership and peace and development in a post conflict region for the purpose of policy recommendation. The research contributes to a gap in the field examining the role of social enterprise and business training as a tool for women's economic empowerment. In addition to policy creation and implementation the significance of the study is most useful for those seeking to understand approaches to peacebuilding, social enterprise as a tool of development, advancing women's rights through cultural means, and examining the effectiveness of economic empowerment through the tools of microfinance, business training, and entrepreneurship.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Leadership in women -- Uganda -- Northern Province; Businesswomen -- Uganda -- Northern Province; Microfinance --Uganda -- Northern Province; Woman -- Uganda -- Northern Province -- Economic conditions

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

H. Eric Schockman