Gender Equality and Postconflict Reconstruction: What Do We Need to Know in Order to Make Gender Mainstreaming Work?


Gizelis, Theodore-Ismene, and Nana Afua Pierre. 2013. “Gender Equality and Postconflict Reconstruction: What Do We Need to Know in Order to Make Gender Mainstreaming Work?” International Interactions 39 (4): 601-11.

Authors: Theodore-Ismene Gizelis, Nana Afua Pierre


“Gender equality is relevant to post conflict reconstruction for a number of reasons. First, the impact of gender equality on long-term development clearly demonstrates its relevance for understanding the prospects for successful post conflict reconstruction (Duflo 2011; Sen 1999). Post Conflict reconstruction seeks to modify the structural conditions that contribute to conflict, and research strongly suggest that low postconflict growth contributes to a higher risk of recurring violence and the so-called “conflict trap,” where poverty and conflict become mutually reinforcing (Collier, Elliott, Hegre, Hoeffler, Reynol-Querol, and Sambanis 2003; Sen 1999). Second, research also shows that gender equality can have an effect independent of development that may help lower the risk of recurrent conflict (Gizelis 2009; Melander 2005a, 2005b; Sambanis 2006). Finally, postconflict reconstruction provides an important opportunity for studying the effects of institutional change. Civil wars destroy the previous social, economic, and political structures, and lead to tremendous changes in individual social identities and cultural practices. This turn provides a window of opportunity for new and more effective policies and institutions, conducive to long-term economic and social growth (Fuest 2008). These new policies and institutions may also incorporate active gender mainstreaming approaches to a lesser or greater degree.
Policymakers tend to agree with social scientists that gender equality is likely to be related to the success of postconflict reconstruction and hence should be included in reconstruction policies. This has been formalized in the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 in 2000, which calls for a gender perspective in postconflict reconstruction, that is, reinforcing the process of gender mainstreaming adopted by the Economic and Social Council in 1997 (Hafner-Burton and Pollack 2002). UNSCR 1325 and developments initiated during the UN Decade for Women increase the pressure on UN Peacekeeping (UNPKOs) missions as well as other organizations and national governments to include a gender perspective and to incorporate the rhetoric and practices of gender mainstreaming in all policies, including those that target poverty reduction and development in agreement with the UN millennium declaration of 2000.
Still, neither researchers nor policymakers have sufficiently explored how gender equality interacts with the underlying economic and social conditions in post conflict environments, and under what conditions gender mainstreaming policies can be successfully implemented in a postconflict reconstruction process (Duflo 2011). This commentary makes two contributions. First, it connects some of the key findings in the development literature with the literature on gender equality to promote further research on gender equality and post conflict reconstruction. Second, it identifies possible theoretical extensions to current research to advance our understanding on the effectiveness of existing gender mainstreaming approaches in societies undergoing post conflict reconstruction. Systematic research is almost nonexistent in this area. This gap is central for policy as we at the present lack substantiated knowledge that can help us understand the usefulness of different gender mainstreaming approaches.
The commentary proceeds as follows: we first summarize the literature on gender equality and development. In the subsequent section we suggest some ways to evaluating under what conditions gender mainstreaming policies actually can be effective. We conclude with some central questions for future research” (Gizelis and Pierre 2013, 601-602).

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacekeeping, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, Violence

Year: 2013

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