On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process

On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process

On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process

On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process

Synopsis

Gender oppression has been a feature of war and conflict throughout human history, yet until fairly recently, little attention was devoted to addressing the consequences of violence and discrimination experienced by women in post-conflict states. Thankfully, that is changing. Today, in a variety of post-conflict settings--the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Colombia, Northern Ireland --international advocates for women's rights have focused bringing issues of sexual violence, discrimination and exclusion into peace-making processes.

In On the Frontlines, Fionnuala Né Aoláin, Dina Francesca Haynes, and Naomi Cahn consider such policies in a range of cases and assess the extent to which they have had success in improving women's lives. They argue that there has been too little success, and that this is in part a product of a focus on schematic policies like straightforward political incorporation rather than a broader and deeper attempt to alter the cultures and societies that are at the root of much of the violence and exclusions experienced by women. They contend that this broader approach would not just benefit women, however. Gender mainstreaming and increased gender equality has a direct correlation with state stability and functions to preclude further conflict. If we are to have any success in stabilizing failing states, gender needs to move to fore of our efforts. With this in mind, they examine the efforts of transnational organizations, states and civil society in multiple jurisdictions to place gender at the forefront of all post-conflict processes. They offer concrete analysis and practical solutions to ensuring gender centrality in all aspects of peace making and peace enforcement.

Excerpt

Afghanistan. Liberia. The Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda. East Timor. Northern Ireland. The former Yugoslavia.

Over the past quarter-century, each of these countries has experienced deeply divisive and highly destructive conflicts. Each is at a different point on the spectrum of emerging from such conflicts and addressing the causes of conflict and rebuilding. Each of these countries has responded in different ways, with varying degrees of intervention and assistance from the international community, to the challenges of creating a new society with new institutions to allow movement forward. Countries in the post-conflict transition process provide multiple opportunities for transformation on many different levels, including; accountability for human rights violations committed during hostilities; reforming local and national laws; reintegration of soldiers; rehabilitation and redress for victims; the establishment or reestablishment of the rule of law, human rights institutions, and governance structures; changing cultural attitudes; and improving socioeconomic conditions. These opportunities are rare in stable and nontransitional societies and explain in part why societies in conflict garner such significant international and institutional attention. The opportunities for massive transformation are, in theory, open-ended.

In this book, we seek to explore the role that gender plays in the construction and implementation of the post-conflict transitional process. For our purposes, gender refers to the social construction of what is defined to be masculine or feminine within any particular culture, and includes our reflections on symbols, theories, practices, institutions, and individuals. Our specific intention is to probe how women fare and to articulate our views on how various legal and political processes might work better for women.

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