Women’s Agency in Peace Building: Gender Relations in Post-Conflict Reconstruction


Manchanda, Rita. 2005. “Women’s Agency in Peace Building: Gender Relations in Post-Conflict Reconstruction.” Economic And Political Weekly 40 (44/45): 4737–45.

Author: Rita Manchanda


Although there is a growing body of feminist discourse establishing that war and peace are gendered activities, and consequently women's experiences, responses and needs are different, this is often overlooked by national and 'international policymakers. Studies making visible the centrality of women's agency in peace building and the need to have women participate at the peace table are ignored by the dominant conflict, peace and security discourses. This paper maps the complex and variegated picture of civilian and militarised women's agency in moments of violent social transformation and the peculiarities of their languages of resistance and empowerment.


  • In this article, Manchanda argues that the opportunities created for women both by their increased agency during war and by societal upheaval in the aftermath of conflict are often dismantled by post-conflict reconstruction models that prioritize the private sector and the restoration of pre-conflict societal status quos. Furthermore, international institutions at times conflate the practice of cultural sensitivity with the reinforcement of misogyny. By examining the experiences of women in post-conflict Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, Manchanda concludes that initiatives that primarily configure women as victims miss the opportunity to consolidate gains wrought in conflict and aid women’s empowerment.


“Paying attention to women’s needs and tapping women as a resource in peace building and reconstruction (and consolidating the paradoxical “gains” from conflict) will not happen without mainstreaming gender at every stage of the peace process and reconstruction.” (4738)

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security

Year: 2005

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