Weapons prevent war. So goes the “realist” discourse about nuclear weapons. A feminist analysis helps to understand how nuclear weapons are a patriarchal tool, and how it benefits the patriarchy to advocate for their continued existence in the arsenals of a few selected governments.
Concepts of transitional justice for dealing with societies‘ conflict-ridden past have become increasingly important. The aim is to achieve reconciliation in relations between the parties that were involved in the conflict.
Throughout history and in many cultures gender roles in times of war are stereotypical: Men fight, women do not – with few exceptions. This is slowly beginning to change, not least because in many countries there is an increasing number of female soldiers.
In the modern conception of statehood, it is the nation state that can defend itself from attack from outside and that domestically, as the guarantor of security and peace for all its citizens, has a democratically secured monopoly on violence. From a feminist perspective, however, the positive role of the nation state in matters of security is not so straightforward.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, globalization, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, security policy all over the world has changed. Meanwhile, climate change, worldwide famine, the struggle over resources, and the global financial and economic crisis have become potentially new threats to peace.
Peace is more than just the absence of war. The goal of a gender-equal and non-violent society does not pertain only to the military, but to civilian forms of dealing with conflict, especially through prevention.
Whereas in hegemonic discourses, military intervention remains an option for conflict management, feminist discussions have developed comprehensive positive models for peace. They use the need for security and the experience of violence by individuals – in what only appears to be their private sphere – as a point of departure for their deliberations.
Peace policy means to cultivate the prevention of violence in all crisis and conflict regions, and to strengthen the role of local peace activists. Traditional mechanisms of conflict management, such as reconciliation based on public negotiation and apology, or material compensation, play an important role here, but, explicitly or implicitly, often exclude women. Therefore traditional forms of preventing violence between populations or states are not sufficient. All social and government institutions, as well as families and schools, must be included in the process.
Today, peace researchers, civil-society groups, political parties, and supranational organizations are questioning previous notions of security and development. They have developed new approaches to civil conflict and crisis prevention and have fostered debate on what constitutes security.
The expert talk aimed for an in depth discussion with experts from civil society and public institutions in order to develop strategies to constructively counteract expressions of brutalised masculinities, focussing on examples from the sub-Saharan region.