Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies


Gizelis, Ismene. 2004. “Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Montreal, March 17.

Author: Ismene Gizelis


Listening to representatives from some of the most resilient conflicts (e.g. Israeli-Palestinians, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Chechnya, and Kurds) one cannot ignore that the participants either as civilians or as military personnel articulate their hatred against the opposing group. Interestingly some of the harshest words against the opposing group come from women. So far the literature has emphasized the role of women as victims (especially in the cases of rape victims) and it has ignored the role of women as active participants in the conflict. A poignant example was the hostage crisis in the Moscow theater where women were a large portion of the Chechnyan guerilla group. In previous studies I examined the impact of women to the outcome of ethnic conflicts, where the socio-economic status of women influenced their attitudes and willingness to participate in the war effort (Besançon and Gizelis 1999, 2000, 2002). Alternatively, new studies have shown that women's issues are secondary at best to demands of self-determination of the particular ethnic group. Hence, women are willing to fight for the group as a whole rather than the advancement of their own rights. Based on previous studies, women's socio-economic status might determine their ability to influence the peace settlement process. On the other hand, women might be some of the most unwilling participants in such processes, since they are the ones with most of the grievances during the conflict. Gender issues have at least nominally become mainstreamed, as an integral component of recognized human rights. Nevertheless, even in cases of interventions sponsored by the UN and/or leading democratic powers, such as the United States, there is only lip service paid to the protection of women's rights. There are three issues emerging from this discussion: First, do women actively facilitate the process of a peaceful settlement; second, do women promote policies related to gender as part of the human rights discourse; and third, do external actors who support democratic institutions and human rights values also enhance the role and rights of women in the post-war settlement. In this paper [Gizelistr[ies] to address these three questions by a comparative and cross-sectional statistical analysis of 127 civil conflicts and peace keeping operations, and by using as examples the cases of South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Israel-Palestine.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Mainstreaming, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Southern Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, United Kingdom

Year: 2004

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