Wednesday, the 7th of June, the CIPADH attended the first part of a panel discussion, organized by the Gender Centre of the Graduate Institute on gender and sustainable peace. The debate was sparked with this question: How does peace become sustainable and what role do gender relations play in the creation of sustainable peace?
The Keynote address was given by Carol Cohn (Prof. at University of Massachusetts, Boston; founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights) and focused on the UN’s “Women, Peace and Security” Agenda and the importance of a « Feminist Roadmap for Sustainable Peace ». She delved into the issue of women’s participation at the peace-table in war or conflict-torn countries or communities. She argued that reaching an agreement in a formal context is only one step in peacebuilding. Indeed, the micro-level work that women achieve prior and after formal peace negotiations must not be omitted. Although their actions are under-resourced, they often constitute genuine changes and help alter the status quo to reach sustainable peace. She urged the audience and peacebuilding agents to deconstruct the conceptualization of peace process and go beyond the narrowness of formal channels of peacebuilding. In fact, she pointed out that the instrumental argument that having more women at the peace-table necessarily leads to a more equitable, kind and woman-centered outcome is flawed as this vision rests on unfounded stereotypes. Having women at the peace table does not necessarily ensure the genuine representation of their interest in the peace process. Indeed, Carol Cohn emphasized the idea that women do not constitute a homogenous group and as a result the heterogeneity of their needs and interests ought to be taken into account.
When asked about the use of the term “feminist” to describe a peace process, she explained that it pointed to the necessity of analyzing the gender impacts of many different types of situations such as disaster risk reduction, public finance, environmental damages that all have a role to play in peace processes. She urged people to use this term.
The CIPADH was able to attend the first Panel on Gender and Conflict Management which was composed of two speakers.
- Christelle Rigual (researcher at Graduate Institute, Geneva)- Gendered Mechanisms of Managing Ethno-religious Conflict: Comparative Findings from Indonesia and Nigeria
C. Rigual looked at the micro-dimensions of conflict cycles in three types of violent conflicts (ethnic religious conflicts, insurrections, vigilantes). In a 6 years research project, conducted in small communities of Indonesia and Nigeria, the study tried to analyze the connection between gender relations, the level of violence in a community and the capacity for violence-prevention. A surprising finding lies in the channels of information, namely the rumors that spread in a community. The study found that such channels of information are in and of themselves biased in terms of gender. Indeed, the masculine authority not only dominates the channels but also the content of the rumors, which can inflame the latent tensions and activate the conflict.
- Theresa Schroeder (Radford University), Security and Stereotypes: Barriers to Women in Politics and Society
Dr. Schroeder used to be a nurse in the US military before being a political scientist and philosophy scholar and professor. During her presentation, she focused on the gendered stereotypes in the US military, a male dominated field. She argued that given the increased level of technologies available for soldiers in times of war, the gendered stereotypes, based on biology and physicality, that claim that women cannot participate in wars is an obsolete argument. Her recent research study concluded that external security threats promote sexist attitudes. Several underlying situations help understand this causation such as the fact that the state becomes more militarized and more money goes to the masculine-dominated military, militarized ideas permeate society in a sexist manner.
Gabrielle Dorey, research assistant