Center for Global Affairs

Women, Peacemaking and Peacebuilding

Armed conflict seems to be on the rise, and related to this is an increase in militarization, with some countries expanding armies, or limiting civil liberties in the name of `national security¿. Shockingly, both of these processes seem to have intensified during the COVID pandemic period ¿ military spending rose to almost $2 trillion in mid 2021, a 2.6% increase on the previous year and the biggest single year increase in over a decade. This trend was significantly exacerbated by the war in Ukraine (since February 24 2022), and the war in Palestine/ Israel (after the 0ctober 7 2023 Hamas attack on Israel), and the defensive response these conflicts have triggered across Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Whether conflict is simmering and cyclical (Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, Myanmar, Mindanao/Philippines) or intense and active (Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, parts of Eastern Congo, Ukraine), gender shapes how people are affected and how they get involved in either fighting or in building peace. The headline treatment of this gender difference is usually limited to a focus on women as victims, and usually as victims of one particular type of violence: systematic rape. We hear much less about women¿s roles as peace-makers, or about their roles as belligerents. That conflict affects women and men, girls and boys in different ways is hardly a major insight, yet security sector analysts and policy-makers continue to have considerable difficulty accepting that this gendered impact of conflict ought to shape international, regional, or local policies aimed at conflict prevention, resolution, or peacebuilding. Even more challenging is the suggestion that gender relations could be one of the drivers of conflict, or could affect the long-term sustainability of peacebuilding efforts. An immediately obvious consequence is that women and girls figure in popular and policy treatments of conflict mainly as victims, and the roles they play as soldiers, spies, medics, communications officers, let alone as rebuilders and peace leaders, are obscured or ignored. This has resulted in their exclusion from decision-making in peace negotiations and post-conflict recovery processes including transitional justice and economic recovery. Recovery processes can therefore re- entrench or even strengthen conservative or pre-conflict versions of gender relations and women¿s rights. The course will be linked to current policy debates on this issue in international peace and security institutions, notably the United Nation¿s Security Council, and the UN¿s Peacebuilding Commission. The major focus will be women¿s role in conflict resolution, reconciliation, and long-term peace building. Students will be encouraged to analyze the politics of international policy-making in the security field and to simulate policy-advocacy through persuasive argumentation (for instance in Op Eds and briefings and a simulation exercise).
Course Number
Associated Degrees