New Gender Mainstreaming Series on Development Issues

2310-2039 (online)
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This series on gender mainstreaming in critical multisectoral development issues has been developed out of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Gender Management System (GMS), a holistic system-wide approach to bringing a gender perspective to bear in the mainstream of all government policies, plans and programmes. These accessible reference manuals will aid development policy-makers, planners, field staff and others to set up a GMS and to manage problems encountered in advancing the goal of gender equality and equity in particular issues from a multisectoral perspective.

Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation

Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation

Building Sustainable Peace You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 2005
9781848598140 (PDF)

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Issues of socioeconomic development, democracy and peace are inextricably linked to gender equality. The main argument of Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation: Building Sustainable Peace is that gender equality needs to be placed on the policy programme of the entire spectrum of peace and conflictrelated initiatives and activities in order to achieve conflict transformation. These include conflict prevention and early warning mechanisms; peace negotiations and agreements; peacekeeping, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration; truth and reconciliation commissions; postconflict reconstruction; and peace building and peace education.

In the Commonwealth, as globally, armed conflict has moved into the village, the community, the street and the home, resulting in a gendered distribution of suffering among women and girls, and men and boys. What is less well known, however, is that women have been making significant contributions to peace processes and rebuilding their societies in all phases of the conflict. In recognition of this, in 2000 the United Nations Security Council made an urgent call in passing Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), for “the equal participation and full involvement of women in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security”, and emphasised “the need to increase their role in decisionmaking with regard to conflict prevention and resolution”. Commonwealth Members Responsible for Women’s/Gender Affairs, in their new Plan of Action for Gender Equality 20052015, reaffirmed the 30 per cent target for all women in all peace initiatives, which was endorsed by Heads of Government (CHOGM, Coolum, 2001), and encouraged member States to mainstream gender equality in all peace processes.

Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation: Building Sustainable Peace is intended as a contribution to the achievement of these goals. It grew out of a series of symposia and workshops held by the Commonwealth Secretariat in the postBeijing decade in collaboration with other partners. These fora contributed a wealth of analysis and case studies that made it clear that women’s participation in processes of democratisation, as well as in a broad spectrum of peace initiatives in Commonwealth countries, were not just an ideal but rather a reality that needed to be better understood by policy makers and other political and social actors working in fields including democracy, development, peace and conflict.

This book brings together this body of work into an advocacy, capacitybuilding and policy tool to contribute to gender mainstreaming in all processes of conflict transformation and in building sustainable peace. As one of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s publications on gender mainstreaming in key development issues, it will be of interest to those working to achieve gender equality, peace, democracy and sustainable development, particularly in situations of armed and other forms of conflict.
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  • Foreword

    Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation: Building Sustainable Peace is the latest title in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s series of publications which aim to influence gender mainstreaming policy and practice in critical development issues in the Commonwealth and globally.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Gender, Peace and Conflict: Setting the Context

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    • Gender and Conflict Transformation in the Commonwealth

      The Commonwealth today encompasses 53 sovereign States and some 1.6 billion people, making up almost a third of the world’s population. Representing every region of the world, it is built on its member countries’ shared commitment to core values and principles. These have been successively elaborated by leaders in Singapore (1971); Harare, Zimbabwe (1991); Millbrook, New Zealand (1995); Edinburgh, United Kingdom (1997); Fancourt, South Africa (1999); Coolum, Australia (2002); and Abuja, Nigeria (2003).

    • Applying a Gender Lens to Armed Conflict, Violence and Conflict Transformation

      Armed conflict and violence, on a small or large scale, are profoundly gendered, though this fact is often obscured and gender is frequently thought to be irrelevant to the analysis of conflict. Despite the fact that armed soldiers and the perpetrators of violence, armed or otherwise, have traditionally been men rather than women, there has until recently been little questioning of the role of particular constructions of masculinity and the characteristics of male culture and subcultures that are integral to armed conflict. As a result, efforts and campaigns to challenge and transform traditional gender roles have had insufficient impact within decision-making institutions.

    • Achieving Gender Equality and Equity in Peace Processes

      The absence of women in formally convened international meetings, including those for conflict resolution, is well documented (Charlesworth and Chinkin, 2000). Although the ground work for gendered intervention should be laid at the peace negotiating table, the reality of peace processes is that the most attention is paid to the demands of those responsible for violence and bloodshed, and far less is given to alternative perspectives for peaceful reconstruction that might be offered by citizens who were caught up in the conflict. This has been attributed to the “tyranny of the emergency” (Mertus, 2000: xii). Growing realisation that the transition from conflict to postconflict is an important opportunity for re-ordering society has highlighted women’s traditional exclusion from policy- and decision-making about post-conflict reconstruction and led to increased demands for their inclusion. Women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been active at the international level in seeking commitment to the inclusion of women in peace processes and the negotiation of peace agreements.

    • Progress in Gender Mainstreaming in Peace Support Operations

      Chapter 3 pointed out that international recognition of the importance of gender mainstreaming in peace processes can be found in numerous UN declarations and resolutions. The need for women to have equal representation in decision-making positions related to conflict resolution and for gender mainstreaming in UN Peacekeeping Support Operations (PSOs) has also been widely acknowledged.

    • Gender Mainstreaming in Post-conflict Reconstruction

      As discussed in Chapter 2, war is inherently gendered, not least because the armed forces in any conflict, be they government or rebel, tend to be made up predominantly or even exclusively of men, and because notions of masculinity will affect the conduct of individuals and groups within those forces. In addition, women and men, girls and boys, are affected differently by war. However, analyses of ‘post-modern’ conflicts – which identify the protagonists and beneficiaries of war as agents of the state, rebel groups, warlords, mercenaries, or all of these – have usually failed to take account of the gender dimension in either the causes of armed conflict, the way in which it is conducted or its impacts. Analysing a conflict through a gender lens will thus contribute important insights into how to undertake the post-conflict reconstruction process to the benefit of the society as a whole. This chapter seeks to do such an analysis, using Sierra Leone as a case study.

    • Creating an International Law of Peace

      At present there is an ad hoc political approach to peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction. Yet although the context of every conflict is different, there are commonalities. In particular, while there may be situations where gender issues are especially highlighted throughout the conflict, gender relations are fundamental to every conflict and its aftermath. Trad - itional accounts of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction, however, do not capture the relevance of gender.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts National and Regional Experiences

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    • Bangladesh: Women and Minorities in Conflict Resolution

      Bangladesh is a society that has experienced violence in all possible forms, including war, flood, famine and state-induced violence. In fact the very emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state was a violent one. The nine-month long war of liberation, which began with the Pakistan military’s crackdown on the Bengalis of then East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971, left three million dead and 20 million raped.

    • Cyprus: Peace Is Too Precious to Be Left to Men Alone

      As the poet tells us, a dividing line has split Cyprus into two. This decades-old line is some 112 miles long, stretching across the island and separating the country into North and South. According to one’s positioning in politics and historical moments, it is referred to as ‘the green line’, ‘the ceasefire line’, ‘the dead zone’, ‘the demarcation line’, ‘the partitioning line’, ‘the Attila line’, ‘the no-man’s land’ or ‘the border’.

    • India: Legacies of Dispute

      Attempting to map conflict in India is a daunting task. The country is widely perceived to be reasonably stable with a thriving – albeit often imperfect – democracy and strong civil society and human rights movements. In many ways, the sheer size of India and the diversity of its population mask the gravity of the many conflicts within it, because most of them remain localised. Inevitably, those that touch on cross-border issues and international relations, such as the stand-off on Kashmir, receive much more media and public attention than other conflicts, which are seen to be less ‘political’ – even though in real terms they may be as, if not more, political.

    • Jamaica: The Search for Survival and Respect in the Hostile World of the Inner City

      Over the past 50 years there has been increasing awareness that freedom and dignity are among the basic needs of human beings. No one can live a normal life in bondage, segregated or sub jugated, dehumanised or disrespected. Jamaica’s rate of dev elop ment since independence has been relatively good. This is clearly shown in the published quantitative data on the country. The problem, however, is that progress has bypassed a whole group – the very poor – the most desperate being those in the inner city. While data show that two-thirds of those below the poverty line reside in rural communities, this is only so because the system of measuring poverty does not take into account the value of ‘ole yam bush’, backyard gardens and other forms of subsistence, the obvious practice of sharing or community, and the various uses of family land, all unique to rural areas. In sum, the urgent concern in Jamaica is that of urban poverty.

    • The Pacific: Gender Issues in Conflict and Peacemaking

      Over the last 15 years political and ethnic conflicts in Bougainville, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and West Papua, together with escalating crime and violence, have shattered the long-held illusion of a peaceful Pacific. Currently efforts are in progress to maintain peace, re-establish law and order, rebuild infrastructures and help individuals recover from the mental and physical trauma of conflict. In the Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Island countries are helping to restore the rule of law, re-establish the court system, convict former militants responsible for violent crimes and rebuild the health system. In Papua New Guinea, police training is being provided in an attempt to improve law and order. In Bougainville, Fiji Islands and Vanuatu support is being provided to NGOs to work at community level to build peace, restore confidence and work towards a situation of normalcy.

    • Papua New Guinea: Women in Armed Conflict

      The political crisis in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has its origin in the early 1960s when a special prospecting authority was granted for exploration in the Panguna area, despite the objections of the land’s traditional owners: women.25 In 1964 the Australian mining company CRA began drilling for minerals, and in 1972 a massive copper mine was opened on Bougain - ville’s Crown Prince Range. The Panguna Copper Mine was operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd, owned by CRA. A crater 6 km long and 4 km wide was gouged out of the mountain and millions of tons of rubble were tipped into the Java River Valley. The chemical effluent from the copper concentrator was poured directly into the Kawerong river, which ran green and changed its course. The once fertile valley became completely barren and Panguna became known as the ‘Valley of Tears’.

    • The Mano River Union Sub-region: The Role of Women in Building Peace

      If asked which of these two images corresponds to the inter - national community’s view of African women, most people’s answer would undeniably be the first. But the reality is that African women are deeply involved in peace efforts in some of the most violent areas in the world – in this case, in the Mano River Basin comprising Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – sometimes at great personal risk.

    • Sierra Leone: Women in Conflict Resolution and Post-conflict Reconstruction

      The message is clear: conflicts, instability and social disintegration are a direct result of poverty, inequity, marginalisation and exclusion, poor governance, and violations of human rights and the rule of law. Many conflicts in Africa lend credence to this. The outbreak of a rebel conflict in Sierra Leone in March 1991 can be largely attributed to these factors. The devastating effects of many of these wars should make all of us learn the bitter lesson that investing in improving the living conditions of a country’s population – men, women and youth – is far less expensive than managing a conflict resulting from not doing so.

    • Sri Lanka: Mother Politics and Women's Politics

      From 1987 to 1990 the south of Sri Lanka lived through a time that has come to be known as the ‘reign of terror’. The society was in crisis. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), in its bid to capture state power, began a violent campaign of threats, intimidation and assassination to assert its supremacy. It targeted the state – the military, police and bureaucracy – as well as politicians and activists classified as ‘traitors to the nation’ because of their support for the Indo-Lanka peace accord that brought Indian peacekeepers into the country.

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