Can women make the world more peaceful?

Laurel Stone – Guardian News / Global Development Professionals Network – Monday August 18, 2014 (originally published 11 Aug)

Liberia peace women
In 2003 Liberia’s joint 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee led the women’s movement for peace in Liberia, a movement that was crucial to ending the war. Image: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty

Do women hold the key to a peaceful society? Much is known about the victimization of women through rape, trafficking, and early marriages, but much is yet to be discovered about how women can be empowered in conflict settings to bridge the gap towards peace.

I recently conducted research analysing female peacemaking and found that women do hold a significant role in the peace process. However, this role is not always long-term, unless gender equality is institutionalised through quotas. A better understanding of how women can transform conflict situations, and how to create space for them to do so, will be vital for the UN and other concerned actors in the coming years.

The needs of women have not always been a focal point in conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction. It was not until 2000 when the UN passed security council resolution 1325 detailing specific risks women face in conflict and determined to tackle the issue. From this resolution, activists, academics, and policymakers began to address the specific “burden of war” women carry and how the international community could protect and empower them. . .

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