Gender and Armed Conflict
Mainstream approaches to conflict and reconstruction fail to recognise how armed conflict exacerbates gender inequality. This pack explores the impact of armed conflict on gender relations, analysing the distinct ways in which women and men are affected. It demonstrates that interventions must respond to the diverse needs of women and men who may simultaneously play the roles of activists and parents, soldiers and victims.
This Cutting Edge Pack hopes to inspire thinking on this theme - with an Overview Report outlining key issues, a Supporting Resources Collection providing summaries of key texts, tools, case studies and contacts of organisations in this field, and a Gender and Development In Brief newsletter with three short articles on the theme.
This Overview Report explores the distinct ways in which armed conflicts affect women and men. It highlights the gender-specific disadvantages experienced by the women and men left out of conventional interpretations of armed conflict and post-conflict reconstruction processes. Women experience significant disadvantage in the course of armed conflict, but it does not necessarily follow that men are always the perpetrators and therefore the winners, and women the losers. Armed conflict exacerbates the inequalities in gender relations that exist in the pre-conflict period. Interventions in conflict must take account of local contexts and of the diverse realities of women and men, who may simultaneously play the roles of activists and parents, soldiers and victims.
Recommendations from the Overview Report
- Take the lead from the local: Interventions need to be based on context-specific evidence about what women and men are doing, and not on stereotypical interpretations of gender roles and relations that presume to know what they should be doing.
- Improve implementation of existing international laws by international institutions and states, particularly in terms of recognition of impacts of armed conflict such as forced displacement, impoverishment and gender-based violence as violations of human rights and not as private, cultural concerns that are unavoidable outcomes of war. Implementation and enforcement of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 would represent a significant step forward.
- Increase funding to specialised services that deal with the distinct needs of women and men who suffer violent impacts of armed conflict such as rape and torture.
- Involve women and provide gender training: The involvement of women is necessary but does not in itself guarantee that gender concerns will be addressed or that women are automatically gender-aware. Training in identifying and addressing gendered concerns is important for everyone involved in post-conflict reconstruction.
This collection of resources on gender and armed conflict sheds light on how gender inequality intersects with armed conflict and its aftermath, resulting in gender-specific disadvantage that is often overlooked. It provides summaries of key resources, tools and guides covering a range of themes including: conflict prevention and management; understanding and addressing gender-based violence; men and masculinity; health and HIV/AIDS; small arms and light weapons; protecting displaced people and humanitarian assistance; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR); peace-building and reconstruction; and women’s lobbying and organising within the peace process.
The full text of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 of October 2000 is included along with a list of the relevant international laws and commitments that protect the rights of women. Detailed case studies of successful practice are presented as well as lessons learned from diverse contexts including Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kosovo. Finally, information is provided about courses, useful websites, networking and contact details for organisations mentioned in the whole pack.
In Brief is a six page newsletter that aims to stimulate thinking on a priority gender theme. This edition focuses on gender and armed conflict, starting with an overview and recommendations followed by two distinctive case studies highlighting practical responses to key issues. The first article focuses on the Gender Programme of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru (CVR), established out of the need to recognise women’s experiences and address the impact of war on gender relations. The CVR’s activities promote gender equality as central to preventing future outbreaks of violence. The second is a piece on the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) in Palestine who also work to recognise the contribution of women and the importance of gender equality as essential to the resolution of conflict and the establishment of peace in the occupied territories.