Gender, Conflict, and Development
Author: Tsjeard Bouta, Georg Frerks and Ian Bannon
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What are the gender dimensions of intrastate conflict? This extensive review examines: the gender roles of women and men before, during, and after conflict; gender role changes throughout conflict; and challenges in sustaining positive gender role changes and mitigating negative effects. Policy suggestions relate to issues such as: considering women's more difficult social reintegration; targeting both men and women when addressing gender-based violence; building on skills acquired during conflict; gender-sensitising health and education systems; and adopting community-based approaches in reconstruction.
The study (of over 230 secondary resources) focuses on women's roles relative to men in relation to eight themes. Findings and associated policy suggestions include the following:
- Warfare: Some women voluntarily engage in conflict to obtain more rights, and women are often actively recruited to add legitimacy to a war effort. It is important to provide assistance to all women, and to consider women's more difficult social reintegration and their exposure to GBV.
- Gender-Based and Sexual Violence (GBV): Trafficking and sexual exploitation, tends to increase in conflict situations. Many women engage in prostitution to survive - sex becomes a form of bargaining power. Responses need to target both men and women using a multidimensional approach that actively involves GBV survivors, their communities, the health sector, social services, and the legal and security sectors.
- Formal Peace Processes: Women can be excluded from formal peace processes, even though increased female participation may generate wider public support for peace accords. It is important to organise training and information-sharing events, and to develop wider processes of political consultation or representation to increase the involvement of women and other marginalised groups.
- Informal Peace Processes, and Rebuilding Civil Society: Women's (and men's) CSOs can form the foundation for a strong and more inclusive post-conflict society. It is important to strengthen the capacity of individual women and women's CSOs to bridge the gap between informal and formal peace processes.
- Gender-Sensitising the Post-Conflict Legal Framework: Conflict can provide an opportunity to formalise gender rights and democratic representation and participation. Policymakers could seek to extend gender equality provisions to non-statutory and customary law and to develop effective implementation mechanisms.
- Work: Many women take on tasks that male relatives had done previously. This can be empowering but can also undermine men's sense of identity as providers and contribute to violence against women. Policy options include designing economic assistance programmes that build on women's newly acquired skills and that encourage women and men to continue in their new activities. It is important to reduce women's burdens, so that women who want to earn a living outside the home can do so.
- Social Services: Women's household tasks become more complex and challenging during conflict. This can strengthen women's capabilities, inducing them to take on more public roles. The post-conflict period is a good time to gender-sensitise health and education systems. This could include greater focus on adult education, particularly for women.
- Community-Driven Development: The adoption of community-driven approaches to post-conflict reconstruction can encourage more gender-balanced representation in decision-making processes. Policymakers could consider seeking to mobilise men and the community to support women's participation, investing in training community leaders and gender facilitators, and adapting logistics and the timing of interventions to women's needs.
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Bouta, T., Frerks, G. and Bannon, I., 2005, ‘Gender, Conflict, and Development’, The World Bank, Washington DC
Organisation: World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/