War and Peace Have a Gender Dimension
By now there is a worldwide movement of women and men campaigning for gender justice, for the universal application of human rights, and for peaceful conflict resolution. These activists know that armed conflicts are also related to unjust gender relations. The series of major UN conferences in the 1990s placed gender and peace policy issues on the international agenda and strengthened civil society. The normative framework of human rights for a peaceful and gender equal world is in place – yet it needs to be implemented.
War and peace are – at times clearly, but often indirectly – interlinked with existing gender relations. “There is no society in which women have the same status as men,“ declared former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2002, in presenting the UN report on Women, Peace and Security. Women are grossly underrepresented in decision-making processes on war and peace. When the causes of this inequality are considered things get more complicated.
To answer them requires a theoretical and conceptual approach, especially when dealing with concepts such as security: Are states really the main guarantors of security? What kind of security is meant – and for whom? What is the connection between gender justice and peace? Although gender analyses would be of fundamental value for finding sustainable conflict resolutions, these questions are hardly ever discussed.
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Violent Conflicts and Conflict Prevention
The background of violent conflicts and wars is multifaceted. Yet, an essential factor is often disregarded in the cause analysis: gender-political dynamics. However, looking at the power relations between women and men is also important to understand how crises and wars develop, how they can be prevented and how lasting peace can be achieved. Peace is more than the absence of war. A gender-equitable and non-violent society cannot be realized through the military but through civil society forms of conflict regulation, mainly through prevention. The gender issue plays a decisive role in this process.