Security, Gender and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The Need for a "Woman Question" When Engaging in Reconstruction

Article excerpt

In the field of post-conflict reconstruction, gender-related issues are mostly analyzed through a legal or a development paradigm. These conditions, coupled with a general disinclination by the international community-the industrialized, Western countries-to challenge cultural norms, whether real or imagined, allow for a security-first approach, a security-development nexus, or both to take precedence regarding post-conflict reconstruction. This Article advances the argument that by viewing gender issues as existential to the security of a state transitioning out of conflict, as opposed to as a development or a legal issue, makes it possible to engage in real reconstruction, addressing the gender bias that dominates many societies.

Introduction.................. 72

I. Feminism - A Historical Review ..................78

A. The Public-Private Divide: "The Personal is Political ".................. 82

II. Security Studies: Traditional Security, Human Security & Gender ..................84

A. Traditional Security (National Security) ..................84

B. Human Security.................. 87

C. Gender and Security ..................89

III. The International Community and State-Building ..................90

A. The Security-First Approach ..................94

B. Social-Economic Development.................. 95

C. Security-Development Nexus ..................97

D. The United Nations, Women, Gender, and State-Building: UNSCR1325 ..................99

IV. Gender, Women, and Post-Conflict Reconstruction ..................101

A. The Legal Approach to Post-Conflict Reconstruction ..................103

1 . Constitutions as a Means to Protect Women ' s Rights ..................1 04

B. The Shortcomings of the Legal Approach ..................106

C. Social Service Justice: An Alternative to Post-Conflict Reconstruction ..................107

V. A Gender-Security Nexus in the Post-9/1 1 Period ..................1 10

Conclusion ..................Ill

Introduction

Two decades have passed since the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued General Recommendation No. 19, (1992), defining gender-based violence as a form of discrimination against women.1 The recommendation, coupled with changes in international criminal law,2 fortified resolve to end the culture of impunity that had existed in respect to gender-based violence3 in times of conflict.4 Alongside the aforementioned changes, issues such as the empowerment of women also began to receive more attention, resources, and interests.5 This was due to the recognition that women experience conflict differently than men, especially as many post-Cold War conflict victims are targeted because of their sex,6 leading to the possibility of gendercide.7 In 2006, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared:

[W]omen are every bit as affected as any man by the challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century - in economic and social development, as well as in peace and security. Often, they are more affected. It is, therefore, right and indeed necessary that women should be engaged in decision-making in every area, with equal strength and in equal numbers . . . there is no policy for progress more effective than the empowerment of women and girls. Study after study has taught us that no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health - including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.

Post-conflict reconstruction literature grapples with epistemological questions of whether post-conflict reconstruction is about the physical rebuilding of the society, the attainment of justice for victims, or the transformation of the society, including changing social and cultural norms and how they are viewed and defined. …