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International Security & Global Governance


This dissertation examines the extent to which women can succeed in leading and bringing peace and stability in the 21st century. That women can play an important role in fostering peace and security has been accepted in principle.[1] Such a role would require women to occupy leadership positions, which would allow them to guide national and international efforts in this direction. However, women do face barriers in acquiring such leadership positions. This dissertation is aimed at examining the importance of the role that women can play in fostering peace and security and the barriers in their way of playing such role. The delay of inclusion of women in leadership and decision making roles that promote peace and security is also considered in this dissertation.

There is also a focus on measures that can be taken to speed up the process and overcome barriers that delay women’s voices to be heard.

As the focus of the dissertation is on women’s role in bringing peace and security and challenges they face when trying to do so, there will also be a consideration of women empowerment and development.

It can be argued that bringing peace and security is a priority for every woman in the world because when there is peace there are opportunities for economic development for women. Bentham saw security and liberty as the same, stating that if there is no security there can be no liberty, even for a day.[2] Ken Booth states that without security there is no emancipation and without emancipation there is no security.[3] He goes on to describe security as the absence of threat of fear and pain. He describes emancipation as being free from constraints. With respect to women, as long as women are not free from constraints, they cannot be said to be emancipated.

For some women especially in post conflict countries, the focus is on empowerment which will help them to rebuild their lives and bring freedom from hunger, poverty and pain that they are suffering. For them equality is important because it can help them to change their lives for the better. It cannot be ignored that as much as all women want to be treated as equals, culture also plays a big role.[4] Most of the women in Africa have adapted to their culture of subordination. They consider such subordination to be normal and accepted and also believe that a man is the head and the woman a subordinate.

In some other parts of the world, women are not even aware of their rights as human beings and as citizens of their countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) states that we are all born free and equal before the law and no one can be discriminated against regardless of race, gender, sex, religion, language or any other form. However, till date, women are still double or even triple discriminated because of their gender, race and ethnicity.

Gender equality and related issues came on the UN agenda in 1975, and the coming decade of 1976-1985 was proclaimed as the UN Decade for women. This period marks a shift from the decades of marginalisation of women in different regions or countries of the world. In 1979 the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. At the 1993 World Conference for Human Rights it was recognised that the human rights of women and the girl child are the important integral part of human rights. Other important milestones are the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995[6] and the UN Millennium Summit of 2000.

One important cause of concern for women rights in the context of conflict and war, is the victimisation of women during conflict. Research has shown that during armed conflicts, civil wars and wars, women bear added burdens of victimisation.[7] Therefore, recognition of equal participation of women in decision making roles is not just a demand for justice but a necessity in achieving the goals of peace and development globally in the 21st century. Women need to be given equal share in social, economic, cultural and political decision making. The present male centric world view has failed to consider the impacts of wars and conflicts on women or failed to respond successfully to the peace and security situations.

The failure of the present leaderships in controlling the escalating security threats in different regions of the world points to the need for increased women participation in leadership. Women can achieve peace and security when they are empowered and have the powers of implementing policies that help to improve women’s lives.

There are international law measures on this issue of women empowerment, but the leaders and governments have so far failed to give effect to these measures. In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, which was a legal framework to guide all the processes of gender, peacebuilding and post-conflict worldwide. In 2002, the Secretary General encouraged all states to adopt National Action Plans to ensure that Resolution 1325 is implemented in regional and national peace building agendas. In 2006, the Commission on the Status of Women agreed to promote equal participation of women and men in decision making processes in both public and private sectors.

It is the responsibility of all governments to implement policies and programmes which promote gender equality and give women full share in decision making and leadership roles. However, the world leadership is still decidedly male centric and therefore, the gendered responses to peace and security situations is missing from the leadership point of view.

Chapter 1 discusses the challenges that women face in acquiring an access to participation in domestic and international leadership. Chapter 2 discusses the feminist theory at some length and also uses the theory to analyse the position of women as leaders. Chapter 3 analyses the role that women play in peace building and peace keeping. Chapter 4 discusses women and leadership.

Chapter 1

Challenges/Barriers faced by women

Women face a number of barriers and challenges in acquiring an access to participation in leadership, be it domestic or international. This chapter discusses the challenges that are faced by women in light of social, economic, religious contexts.

Women have been disadvantaged just because they are women and have been denied access to political and economic power and leadership in many countries around the world. Therefore, the subordination of women to men needs to be explored. The inequalities faced by women when it comes to education, employment, economic opportunities, and their right to be law makers have been the subject of much research.[9] It is also accepted that collective power can be successfully exercised even within patriarchal systems, therefore, it is important for women to act together against subordination and gender inequality.[10] In this section, the dissertation discusses the different contexts within which women face challenges or barriers in achieving leadership roles, which can also facilitate women in playing an important role in peace and security.

Women and culture/ tradition

Many cultures justify gender inequalities and discrimination. For example, in African societies, it is considered wrong for a girl child to spend more time sleeping, as she is the carer of the household. Thus, the duties within the household are given to females, wherein females do not have choice or freedom of work. Such cultural norms perpetuate low self-esteem and subordination of women and create conditions within which women find themselves unable to rise above such subordination to claim and acquire more dominant positions within the social and political structures of the society. Poverty and illiteracy also play a role in hindering women’s emancipation, and these are the factors that hinder progress in fighting for equality.

One of the important reasons why women may be hindered in achieving leadership roles, is their lack of financial autonomy. The cultural hindrances in financial autonomy for women are seen in different forms. For instance, in many cultures, women are not allowed to work, therefore, they are not in charge of their own finances. Some cultures may not recognise the right of a woman to own property in her own name. For instance, the South Africa Act 1909 only recognised men in the eyes of the law, while women were just regarded as minors and dependents of men. As a result of this law, women were not allowed to own a house in their own name.

The control over a woman’s sexuality is also a method by cultures of subordination are created. An example of this is the culture of female genital mutation, which is still practiced in many African countries although it is condemned by the world. In countries such as Liberia especially in the rural areas it is still performed in young girls as a tradition which indicates that a girl has moved from childhood to puberty stage.[12] Despite the complications such as urinary tract infection, pelvic infections and other health complications, this tradition is still enforced especially by other women. The UK House of Lords has also declared genital mutilation as torture, cruelty, and inhuman and degrading treatment.[13] The UN has also expressed concern about the practice.[14] Female sexuality can also be controlled through early or forced marriages for young girls. In Liberia, such marriages are considered as a part of Liberia’s traditional culture.

Culture plays an important role in creating and perpetuating barriers for women empowerment. Due to these barriers, women are subordinated and find it hard to participate in political decision making, including related to peace and security matters.

Women and religion

Religion has been viewed as a source of both power and subordination for women. Due to the notions of sanctity attached to virginity, some cultures view young girls as ‘wives of the sun’; they were regarded as pure and clean and therefore they were the ones who had to prepare religious rituals, and were regarded as the sacred beings.[16] While this special treatment may prima facie lead to inferences of gender equality; it was a reinforcement of subordination of women.

In some religious beliefs, women are seen as dirty and polluting because of their reproductive bodies with functions such as menstruation, childbirth and breastfeeding.[17] Societies have linked men’s sexual access to females through a combination of beliefs, laws, customs, and these makes women to be sexual prey for men especially during war times.

Religious norms and cultures, irrespective of the religion, perpetuate patriarchy and male domination. Some crimes may even be permitted to men in the name of religion, such as, concubinage which was considered to be a reward from God.[18] In Christianity, it is said that a woman was created form a man because it was concluded that a man cannot be on his own, he needs someone to support him. In other verses it goes on to say that man must love their wives, and wives must submit to their husbands. The religious culture of female submission is also responsible for promoting discrimination and gender inequality. Moreover, it acts as a barrier for the greater empowerment of women.

Religion is intimately implicated in the identities of tribes, ethnicities and nations and wars between them. From the ancient period onwards, there have been wars between Protestants and Catholics or Christians and Muslims.[19] Women have typically borne the greater burdens of victimisation during wars, without having the political will or leadership to play a decisive role in the peace and security contexts.

Women and Health

Female reproductive rights have not been within the power of the women. In the past years, women had no right to tubal ligation if the husband did not agree and signed the consent form.[20] Therefore, oppression has been systemised as far as women are concerned and in such a way that their voice did not matter even on issues concerning their bodies. In 2010, the UN responded to this and launched “Every women every child” as a global movement to mobilise intensify action to address major health challenges facing women and children around the world.[21] The UNDP Human Development Index report showed that there is an increase in maternal deaths, 100,000 live births, 970 women die from pregnancy related causes which indicates that women’s health is still an issue. It might be due to many factors such as geographical, traditional or religious beliefs, but this is one area which causes a barrier to women’s fight for equality.[22] Though things are improving but still in some areas women are still controlled by men in choosing their contraceptive methods, this shows that their reproductive rights as females are still infringed. Even when they are sick, some men don’t allow their women to go and seek medical help as they believe in traditional healers. The denial for women to control or take charge of decision making for their own health in some societies, is an indication of the subordinate place of women in these societies. In such a situation of female subordination, it is not difficult to conceptualise subordination of women in all other respects, including subordination or denial of participation in political decision making.

Women and education

Many women in the developing countries are illiterate because they are not sent to school. Therefore, women still have to fight for their right to education, because without education, there is no equality and less chances of women being decision makers. In many African nations, there is a high rate of illiteracy among women due to gender discrimination; the UNDP Human Development Index report shows that most of the time in Africa fewer girls attend school and they do not finish they leave school earlier than boys.[23] If there are financial constraints, the first person to be taken out of school without hesitation is the girl child. According to the African culture a girl must get married and get a husband who will support her and yet if you are a boy you must get proper education so that you are able to support your family. Lack of education is one of major barriers in fighting inequality for women, because it deprives them of opportunities to be decision makers and it prevents them to get leadership positions. It is difficult to lead if knowledge and information is limited, as those with knowledge will always dominate in the arena. Therefore, women empowerment in all spheres is critical in uplifting women of the world for better positions that give them power to change policies to those that enforce development.

Women in armed conflicts

Armed conflict is a very complex situation, which hinders development and challenges social justice. War is seen as gendered in such a way that it perpetuates inequalities, promotes discrimination, and bring suffering especially for women and children.[24] During war, women are victimised by all kinds of abuse, which may be sexual, physical, and emotional.[25] Developments in humanitarian law jurisprudence have highlighted a broader understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women, it has supported and integrated some gender and sexual crimes based on experiences of women in war areas as addressed in international tribunals and in hybrid criminal courts.[26] The UN Security Council has made great contributions to gender rights in human rights law developments by adopting the United Nations Women, Peace and Security Resolutions.[27] These resolutions encourage the state parties to take steps to prevent further women rights violations in armed conflict situations and also ensure full participation of women in pre and post –conflict reconstruction processes.[28] At this point, it is important to note that violence is linked with male hegemony, and there is a need to consider a larger role for women in post-conflict reconstruction in order to bring a different worldview towards conflict and its resolution.[29] Women and children suffer greater victimisation during conflict, due to their peculiar vulnerabilities. Women and children are usually left to carry on and find ways and means to survive while the men are involved in active conflict. At this time, women and children are exposed to all forms of threats, such as assault, rape, forced prostitution. Many women may become war-widows whilst others become single parents. The actual and perceived threats and challenges to women are often treated as collateral damage, their experiences are often ignored, and the focus is always on men and their experiences.[30] In 2014, the Commission on the Status of Women, adopted conclusion on women’s participation in prevention of conflict, and peacebuilding during post conflict periods. It committed itself to promotion of non- violent forms of resolving conflicts as well as assisting women who seek refugee status and those who are displaced. In 2005, the World Summit Outcome stressed on the commitment to implement the Security Council Resolution 1325[31] which emphasises the importance of the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts. As the outcome of the Summit, in 2006 the Peacebuilding Commission was established to give advice on matters of reconstruction and sustainable development in countries gaining their strength from conflict. In international law, new commitments to end impunity for crimes committed against women were made. The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court prohibits rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy and other forms of sexual violence and took gender concerns into account in the definition of the crimes of genocide (article 7), crimes against humanity (article 7) and war crimes (article 8). The Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone includes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and any other form of sexual violence among the constituents of crimes against humanity. Article 5 gives the Special court jurisdiction over crimes under Sierra Leonean law, including offences relating to the abuse of girls under the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act of 1926.[32] Women’s experiences during armed conflicts have negative effects because of what women undergo during that period but can also be positive because of new opportunities that arise for women. In the absence of men, women take the lead and ensure that life goes on by providing food, shelter and all other needs. As men are in war, there are positions which are vacant and need to be filled, it is that opportunity that women can use and occupy positions in public as well as in private spheres. It was noted in Rwanda that after the genocide, there were demographic changes, there were less men because they died during war; this resulted in more opportunities for women to exercise their rights and be part of decision making processes and participate in the making of new policies.[33]

Women in the Refugee camps

It is noted that of the ten countries producing the world’s most refugees, four of them are from Africa[34] therefore it has become important to test the efficacy of Women, Peace and Security frameworks in the African context. The status of women and children in the refugee camps is terrible; they face all sorts of abuse from everyone who is supposed to be looking after them including the officials themselves, therefore they live in threat because of absence of security.[35] During conflict, women are always victims whether as combatants, refugees or displaced persons.[36] Even if they report these cases, very few are taken seriously it is always the perpetrators’ voice against the victims. For survival in the camps women find themselves exchanging sex for food in order to survive due to poverty and discrimination. They are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS because of lack of access to health facilities. Women in refugee camps have experienced sexual and bodily assaults as a result of war and their situation remains unchanged their tales remain the same a ‘continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield’[37] therefore it is very critical to support women’s integration and assessing post-conflict social justice.

Case Study of armed conflicts and women in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Sierra Leone and Liberia have both encountered deadly wars in Africa. In both countries, child soldiers and the youth were recruited to commit atrocities and other crimes against humanity.[38] In both countries, civilians rights were violated, people were abducted, women were raped and others forced into labour.[39] Scott concludes that these countries were obviously led by people who did not care about the security of their citizens, this coming from the fact that the leadership allowed the invasion of rebels and the very same government took advantage of the situation and took key control of the state resources.[40] In Sierra Leone, history reveals that before independence, according to the culture, women submitted to men, it is the male elders who rule and are in control, women have no voice except a few from the Krio origin, who had economic power and were visible in the political arena because of their class. Only two women from the Kio group were allowed to participate in constitutional talks that led to independence and that was just because of their economic status. In Liberia, inequality also exists but is not limited to male and female, but extended to intra-gender inequalities, where there are two groups of women, the first group sees themselves as civilised, they do not wear the traditional cloth, they think about themselves as first class citizens because they were exposed to Western education and norms, and the other group are called the ‘natives’, and this is the group that is disadvantaged and suffers because they are not given equal opportunities as other women from the so called civilised group.[41] Liberia was founded by freed African slaves who ironically became the ‘ruling class’ which has continued to rule till to date. Women were not allowed to vote in Liberia until 1940 but for the indigenous women and their male partners this extended until 1950.[42] The indigenous group also suffered subjugation in areas of marriage because the civilised group practiced endogamy. As a result most government officials were related which led the other group being slaves and the other being the land owners. This history led to ineffective efforts for women to fight for equalities in decision making as well as leadership roles. As a result of this, Liberia still reflects over 80% of women as illiterate despite the launching of free compulsory education for all in 1912.[43]

Women and the military

Militarism has always affected women directly or indirectly. This impact starts during the war and continues after wars where women had to be involved by taking care of the wounded soldiers but with no one to take care of them. They are expected to service machine guns, even during peace times they are expected to carry on fulfilling their functions which goes unnoticed by the public at large, for whom the war discourse revolves around the role of men in war and conflict. Due to the historical neglect for recognising female roles during war, feminists consider that there is no role for women in men’s wars except being slaves of harassment and exploitation. Cynthia Enloe explores the reason for women in the military and sees their presence in the military serving 6 functions i.e military nurse, prostitutes, wives, official soldier, guerrilla soldier and just an ordinary industry worker. She even goes on to search and get an understanding of a connection between gender and militarism. Enloe conducted research on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation militarism, and argues that presence of women in national militaries has got nothing to do with feminists’ movements but they are there for military demands for labour and the new military means of exploiting women employees. Enloe alsovnoticed that as the army advances in technology, they recruit more women for the jobs that are downgraded. Using the case of Nira Yuval- Davis to demonstrate how gender and status divisions are reinforced as more and more women are integrated into new military arenas. She also analysed the Western women’s experiences in armed forces and found out that most of them were doing it for money, status, security and patriotism. Enloe argues that if the military use of women can be exposed not only in the West but also in the third world, women can unite for a common cause and free themselves from militarism. Sexual slavery started long time ago, in both First and Second World Wars, soldiers were given “comfort women” who were believed to stabilise soldiers’ psychology and to decrease the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among the military men. This has been addressed by international law.


This chapter has demonstrated how women find themselves in a place of subordination, perpetuated by social norms and religion. It is seen that women are denied the right to make decisions even in their personal lives as well as in political and public scenarios. The chapter has also discussed how conflict impacts women and the reasons why it is essential that women play a more prominent role in peace building.

Chapter 2

Feminist theory

Feminism was intended to develop as a universal theory and to be an international political practice aimed at achieving the liberation of women. Feminist theory also focusses on issues such as gender equality, including equality in decision making in areas of international security and also in national militaries. The theory can provide answers in exploring the impact of conflict on women, the barriers for women participation, and how these challenges can be minimised and eventually removed. Definition of feminism differs according to the period and according to the definition of a ‘woman’. Within feminist theory, there is now a branching off into different kinds of feminist theories, but what is common among the feminists is that they all recognise the fact that the way women are treated is not fair and needs to be addressed. Feminists also acknowledge the fact that oppression can be seen as a way which dominates women and all social arrangements are seen as favouring men over women. Some feminists noted that this idea of men wanting to control women at household level creates a barrier for women to participate in public affairs. The core of feminist theory is concerned with bringing women from the margins to the centre.[49] In the context of women and conflict, feminist theory can be used to strengthen argument for bringing women into the centre of decision making instead of being relegated at the margins or allowing an active role to the women instead of being passive victims of the conflict or war. Feminists argue that the word oppression implies forceful subordination with women as just passive victims, and that in other cultures this male dominance is seen as acceptable and as part of the culture. A man possesses power over women in the house, community as well as in the workplace. Even when women are in higher positions they still have to care for their families because caring is an innate attribute for them they must come back from work and cook and make sure that children are cared for. “The woman politician has to learn to balance between politics and her traditional agenda role of social reproduction and housekeeping” said Janet Nkwanyana, Minister of Gender and Community Development in Uganda.

Radical Feminist Theory

Radical feminism focuses more on difference between men and women; they are fighting for women’s representation and argue about issues of poverty, gender and cultural differences. Radical feminists argue that unless the law is sensitive to oppression and subordination of women there will be no transformation. This is because, socially, relations between men and women are organised in such a way that they favour subordination and this has been seen as normal and natural therefore the private must be public because in the private domain that is where inequality begins.[51] Radical feminists have acknowledged women’s oppression and politicised sexuality and exposed men’s ‘normal, everyday behaviour” as a social problem; they also question the legitimacy of any social order that allows oppression of women by men. As per radical feminism, woman is defined as a universally oppressed creature, oppressed sister, in a world physically dominated by men.[52] Radical feminists have also criticised liberals for trying to share male power rather than transforming it.

Liberal Feminists

Liberal feminists are focussed on a fight for equality and redistribution: equal pay, civil rights, education, health and welfare, as well as equal access to democratic political processes. This type of theory does not identify the relations between sexes as specific power relations. They see radical feminists as being hostile to men and preventing men from sharing in struggles for women liberation. This theory differs from radical and Marxists, which are both concerned with power relations and power politics. Liberal feminists insist that the law must take its course and fulfil its duty of ensuring that the challenges of inequality between men and women are sorted out legally. But they are criticised for failing to see that the law that makes the regulation is run by men who are not interested in uplifting women because of their male hegemony.

Marxist Feminists

Marxist feminism is more complex than radical feminism, because it has to fight for women regardless of their economic interests, class or power, while at the same time struggle with men against women because of socialism which is the struggle of a particular class at a particular historical age of human development.

New Wave Feminists

New Wave feminism theory focuses more on shared oppression by women which raises arguments because cultures and religions are not the same in such a way that what is a problem for a woman in the first world country might not be a priority for a woman in a developing country. The only thing they share is just the interest they have in their countries’ transformation. New wave feminists showed women that they all have the same common interests even though they differ in their approaches, still the foundations of sisterhood lie in the politics of gender and in their struggle against men’s power.

Third World Feminists

It can be argued that feminists’ ideas of the Western world cannot be the same for Africa due to a lot of factors such as colonisation, culture and traditions. Third world feminist Oyewumi argues that gender is only the interest of Western scholars and blame them for formulating gender into a society, she further says that creation of gender is a creation of an imagination whereas in Africa there is a need for a cultural context- dependent feminism.[53] However, other feminists oppose Oyewumi stating that even in African community, issues of gender have always been existing and therefore, cannot be excluded or labelled as issues concerning the West. In fact, they can be regarded as being universal. Tamale also contributed to this issue by adding that gender issue in Africa must also be linked to issues of imperialism, class, ethnicity, religion and also to the effects of neo-colonialism.[54] Hook analyses black Americans and argues that feminism cannot focus on sexist oppression and male domination and ignore the domination that is practised in the Western culture at all levels, preventing development of other people by practising imperialism depriving them of economic growth.[55] Feminists are trying to find out what cause men to think that it is correct to dominate, rape, beat, oppress women; they question the issue of biology, checking if it is because of the physical difference or is it because of the nurturing and motherhood characteristics. Fox-Genovese argued that women have to be actively excluded from the corridors of power, so this concludes that it is not about the biology but about the equality and patriarchy which has been taken as natural and acceptable in the society.[56] Third World feminists have challenged the separation of nature to culture which has allowed men to dominate women and allowed women’s oppression to develop in the women’s nature of feminism. In most societies, women have been seen as closure to nature and men closer to culture which is one of the reasons that can be argued why men think that it is right to oppress women. Christina Hughes talks about equality and the results that can be achieved if both men and women can work together.

Chapter 3

Women in Peacekeeping and Peace-Building

Peace is a subjective term, which may be described as the absence of noise, or in other words peace may be defined as silence. Peace can also be seen as the absence of mental anxiety or war, or in other words, being in a state of harmony. In this dissertation, peace is seen in the context of absence of conflict or war, and also includes post conflict restoration of peace. Treaties have been signed many times after wars, but they do not stop countries from waging wars which results in Emmanuel Kant’s ‘perpetual peace’ to be far from being achieved but peace negotiations need to continue and for this, involvement of all citizens is important. Feminists peace theorist Birgit Brock –Utne, emphasises the security of women and link it to peace attainment.[58] She distinguishes between negative and positive peace, the former being when there is no personal or physical direct violence which includes spouse or partner abuse; and the latter being indirect violence such as disruption of economic, political and democratic processes. Women are impacted by the disruption of peace, be it negative as well as positive. They are also stakeholders in the economic, political and democratic processes. Therefore, their involvement in peace-building is essential. It can also be argued that women are caring, non- violent and peaceful in nature that is why they need to be included in peace-making decisions, there is hope that with more of them in power, there can be peace in the world. This was also suggested in an independent expert paper by UNIFEM and UN Peacebuilding Support office, which argued that women can play a very crucial role in peace building and peace keeping.[59] The paper observed: “Unequivocally, involving women and gender expertise in peacebuilding activities is essential for reconstituting political, legal, cultural and socio-economic and social structures so that they can deliver on gender equality goals.Gender equality brings to peace-building new degrees of democratic inclusiveness, faster and more durable economic growth and human and social capital recovery.”[60] The importance of the role that can be played by women in peace building processes, has been emphasised many times over in the last few decades. In 1975 at the World Conference on the International Year of Women in Mexico, governments and non- governmental organisations identified international cooperation which was the strengthening of international peace and women’s political participation in areas for national and international action.[61] Women’s participation in struggles against colonialism, racism and discrimination were among the issues that were discussed at the conference.[62] At the 1985 World Conference in Nairobi, issues of women’s participation in decision making positions and in education for peace as vital to peace-building were discussed. Various forms of violence against women in everyday life were highlighted as obstacles for achievement of peace. During the Fourth Conference in Beijing in 1995, women in armed conflicts were one of the areas of concern. Delegates discussed in depth the protection of women in armed conflicts and the importance of women’s participation in fostering the culture of peace. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2122 (2013) urging women’s full inclusion in peace talks and transitional justice. [63] In his opening remarks United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, stated that the new resolution was a shining light on the importance of women’s agency and leadership in international peace and security. United Nations Women Executive Director Ms Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka along with Ms Navi Pillay the High Commissioner and others briefed the Security Council and presented the findings of the Secretary –General’s 2013 report on women, peace and security. Ms Mlambo Ngcuka stated that leadership is central to reconciliation, conflict resolution and to peacebuilding efforts that bring results for families and communities.[64] The resolution acknowledged the fact that inequality plays a role in problems experienced by women in armed conflict situations therefore their direct inclusion in peace talks were seen as vital.[65] The lack of such inclusion can also be inferred from the fact that even basic identity documents are at times denied to women, due to which, women and children are denied access to certain basic services post conflict. It can be argued that issues that affect women need to be addressed by them because they are important issues to them for them. The UN Security Council Resolution 2122 (2013) addressed the rights of pregnant women as a result of rape during a conflict period and urged that through humanitarian aid they are able to access health facilities. The resolution also looked at the importance of women empowerment as critical to international peace and security acknowledging the fact that economic empowerment of women contributes to the stability of post conflict areas.[66] Usually the international community provides humanitarian aid in post- conflict areas which is good for the affected countries, and the provision of peacekeeping forces by the UNSC also helps to ensure that innocent civilians access resources. The argument can be made to check if humanitarianism in not being commercialised. Baroness Von Suttner in an open letter to all women, said the following: “My dear sisters: It is not the cause of women but that of humanity of which I wish to talk to you. Not because we are women, but although we are women, ought we to take this great political and thoroughly social question into the circle of our thought and activity.”[67] According to Baroness Suttner, transformation is to pass from violence to law, from brutality to gentleness, and she recognised the fact that women are called upon to elevate the social status of their communities and to bring development and urges women to forget about the past and look directly at the ideas and tasks which are directed at “Women and International Peace.”[68] Men have been called ‘warmongers’ because of their love for power, it can be argued that for them it is about increasing their territory at all costs possible. Realism also accepts that wars are caused because of greed, where one state wants to be in control of all states around.[69] On the other hand, women have been called ‘pacifists’ because of their nature which longs for peace and involvement in peace resolutions. [70] It is said that he who does not understand the goal of pacifism will suppress the natural feeling and when occasion arises will shout for war in spirit of self–sacrifice.[71] African women have been demanding greater participation in peace processes in those nations that have suffered from conflict or war.[72] This demand is also buttressed by the fact that women are now showing greater involvement in governance and decision making, with women also becoming chiefs.[73] The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which came into force in 2005, is also an important step as it recognises the role that can be played by African women in the peacekeeping or peacebuilding within war and conflict torn societies.[74] These and such measures are reflective of the international consensus on the importance of women participation in peace building. In the forthcoming sections, the dissertation discusses some related case studies. All African Women participating in the African Women and Peace Day demanded that in order to maintain peace every government had to formalise their policies and include peace reconciliation to be part of the school curriculum. They also demanded that all barriers to peace resolutions be removed so that women are fully involved in in peace processes, also demanded an environment that promotes justice and equality at all levels. In that spirit they committed themselves in ensuring that all their efforts help to create an atmosphere that promotes ethnic and religious diversity and allows all African women to be peace- makers

Case Studies on Peace making Measures by Women

The case studies specifically included in this dissertation depict the role that was played by women in post conflict peace building. The purpose of these case studies is to show how in actual conflict situations, women were able to help guide the peace building process. In Russia, the Union of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia pressed the Russian Authorities to address the violation of human rights in the region.[76] Another case was witnessed in Uganda where Betty Bigombe played a role in negotiating for peace between Lord Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda; she negotiated directly with the rebel and government leaders.[77] These cases suggest the potential of women for the purpose of peace-building. There are other similar cases, which depict the role played by women in achieving peace building. In Liberia, the Women’s Peace Initiative were involved in peaceful resolutions by pushing for disarmament before signing a peace accord.[78] In South Africa Lilian Ngoyi and others in 1956 marched to Pretoria against the “Pass Laws” which were introduced by the apartheid government; they did not go there to fight but to negotiate with the government.[79] The phenomenon of women activism and involvements in peace movements has been seen in countries such as Burundi, Cyprus and others. Here, women have formed peace organisations, which have played a very significant role in bringing about peace. It has been noted that community participation is the key to ensure success in all programmes implemented. Even when women are marginalised and exclude from peace processes, they do not get discouraged they still form their own groups for peace purposes; this was witnessed by the Mano River Women’s Peace Network which involved women from West countries, (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) who were able to succeed in the peace negotiations and managed to end the suffering caused by conflict.[80] In Colombia, it was women who pressurized the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to engage into peace talks in 1999, they continued to hold peaceful demonstrations enlighten the communities about the cost effects of wars.[81] In Sri Lanka it was a woman again who reinitiated peace talks through “Mobilizing Mothers for Peace” to urged the government to stop violence and seek for other peace measures.[82] Also in Nepal, women’s groups also acted as mediators to establish ‘peace zones’ after they engaged parliamentary leaders and other groups.

Case Study of the Mabedlana Women’s Project

The project was started by women to uplift their community because they felt their community was neglected; they had limited access to basic services such as clean water, health schools, infrastructure, therefore then decide to stand up and do something for themselves. It was women who were worried about what was happening in the area and they felt they were excluded from the rest of the society. Safia Moola started the project by opening up literacy classes in the area this helped them to be able to share information and also made them aware of what is happening around them. With the new information they had, their eyes were opened and they had more desire to do something about their situation. They also started a project of making and selling beads which helped them to have some sort of income and this brought some confidence in them and this created more income generating projects. They started sawing classes these projects kept them busy and uplifted their morale. Through the help of (Umtapo Centre, which is a peace and human rights education organisation based in Durban, South Africa) and another non-governmental organisation, they managed to market their products in various places such as in Conferences, the income generation project grew and they were now recognised. This helped the women to start other projects focusing on alleviating crime in the area by teaching the youth and children skills to survive without being involved in crime. They taught the youth that peace should be achieved in the family first and then at community level, husbands felt under pressure to stop fighting and focus on peace measures and on issues of growth and development[84]. Although governments can formulate peace strategies for the communities, at the end of the day it is up to the communities themselves to do the implementation processes. Efforts by women should be recognised and documented for evidence that proves women’s involvement in peace building. Criticism of the Security Council by feminists such as Mazaruna and McKay (1999) that its peacebuilding agendas privileges men and live women out cannot be seen as true because of the commitments made by the Security Council in promoting women’s rights, safety and empowerment.

Case study on Women in Somalia Peace Process

The Somalian peace process started back in 1991 wherein six organizations participated but failed when civil war started again because Ali Mahdi was endorsed as president.[86] Another attempt was in 1993 where fifteen parties to the Somali Civil War signed agreements for national reconciliation and disarmament, but this also fell apart.[87] Again in 1997 a national conference was held in Sodere, Ethopia, this was boycotted by Hussein Farrah Aidid and by the government of Somaliland. In 2000 a series of meetings were held to launch the Somalia National Peace Conference, the difference with this meeting was that they started to involve everybody such as unarmed civic leaders, religious leaders, but this was opposed by the rivals.[88] This did not stop people from trying again because they were tired of conflicts; the country was not developing, in 2002, they again launched another national reconciliation process and the agreement was signed by twenty-four faction leaders who stipulated a need to create a federal structure, but that didn’t work again. The involvement of women was an important turning point for the otherwise difficult Somali peace process.[89] In any case, the role of women in Somalia as providers and decision makers had already been heightened due to the need for women to manage their households in the absence of men. This led to the empowerment of women, mushrooming of women organisations, and ultimately pressure groups for the peace progress.

Women for Peace in Syria

Syrian women are tired of war that has been going on in their country and have decided to stand up and do something about it, they demand full participation at peace negotiating tables. Ending conflict and bringing peace is crucial for improving economic development for any country. Violence that has been going on in Syria has affected all communities regardless of background or gender, but for women the Syrian war has been especially difficult.[91] Syrian women have been subjected to sexual violence, human trafficking, forced marriages and girls as young as 11 have been forced into sex slavery.[92] In Syria, it has been difficult for women to access health facilities, and humanitarian aid does not reach other areas, leaving women and children in poverty. Recently, coalitions such as Syrian Women’s Initiative for Peace and Democracy (SWIPD), have come into existence. These are women organisations that are meeting and calling for peaceful political solutions. This movement is trying its best to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all areas and they are very much prepared to rebuild their country and they have used peace and security tools to support their vision. The efforts of the SWIPD have been recognised by the international community as well.

Balkan Women and their road to peace

Women in Balkan have come together to fight discrimination and overcome their differences in order to build a better future.[94] They are putting their gender issues at the centre of politics and are very much interested in bringing peace and stability in their country.[95] They are working together with Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South East Europe (RWLSEE) to boost women’s participation in decision making across the Balkans. The chairwomen of the RWLSEE stated that women have put their differences aside, leaving the history behind and are now moving forward with peace measures to show that it is possible to make peace after the conflict.

Women, Peace and Security Coordination in Fiji

The Women, Peace and Security coordinating committee was established in Fiji in 2003 by women’s groups and non-governmental organisations to accelerate the implementation of SC Resolution 1325. The committee laid down its objectives, which included the strengthening of women’s capacity to play a role in prevention of conflict and in the promotion of peace post conflict, regionally and nationally. The Committee has advocated for peace, tolerance, and reconciliation in the community and link this to economic security; and also to promote peace building initiatives of government, regional organizations and mainstream agencies.[96] Governments including international organizations play an important part in facilitating women’s participation in peace processes, peace building, and post conflict reconstruction. They are trying to remove all the barriers by providing all the support they can financially and technically. Laws and legislations are being developed and revised so as to accommodate interests of women. A large number of countries have developed new national action plans to implement Resolution 1325. These include the United Kingdom, Belgium, Liberia and Austria among others; some have even used the national action plan as a tool to identify priority areas of action. [97] Some countries such as Cote d’ Ivoire, have identified their priority areas as follows: (1) protection of women and girls from sexual violence; (2) Inclusion of gender perspectives in policies and development programmes; and (3) ensuring that women get access to basic infrastructure, and strengthening their participation in decision making.[98] The inclusion of women in Truth and Reconciliation Commissions has made a difference in countries such as Sierra Leone, where participation of women has ensured that there was a special unit to investigate war crimes from the gender equality perspective. A Women’s Task Force was elected to create ensure that women were included and were able to participate in institutions such as the media, police force and in legal professions. Another example where women were included in Truth and Reconciliation is Timor Leste’s Commission for Reception, where women’s groups were involved in public dialogues regarding various options for transitional justice led by two female commissioners who ensured that women’s issues are included throughout the process.[99] Post conflict situations have provided unique opportunities for women to be included and have a voice in political spheres. In countries such as Afghanistan, women have been seen participating in meetings and workshops that focus on women’s issues and democracy, as a result more than 20% of women were voting delegates in the Constitutional Loya Jirga and the new Constitution included language on gender equality and a quota for women in the lower house of parliament.[100] Countries such as Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa and Mozambique have increased their number of women legislators including revising their constitutions and legal frameworks to remove all discriminatory provisions. In South Africa in 2007, a strategy workshop was conducted which brought together national women’s constituencies with the aim of revising security sector and defence policies so as to strengthen gender training for peacekeepers at the national level before deployment.[101] The first ever female peacekeeping contingent was from India in 2007, wherein 100 trained Indian women police officers were send to the UN Mission in Liberia. It was reported that this motivated Liberian woman to join the Liberian police service.[102] Increasing the number of women in the police service is an important element of gender sensitive police reform post conflict societies and can help in reducing the number of sexual and gender based violence.

Women and Empowerment

It can be argued that women play peace building roles everyday around the world, negotiating and mitigating between parties. The United Nations states that there is improvement in terms of women empowerment, the report tells us that 30 percent of seat in parliament are headed by women and there is a good chance that legislations that favours women will be passed[MP4] . Ms. Cheng Hopkins mentioned that this has been noted in Rwanda where 11 percent of the land is now owned by women, meanwhile in Burundi, women constitute 30 percent of the legislative seats. The Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, stresses that the work of women is important in achieving recovery from conflicts. She also states that wherever the women are involved, there is a difference, therefore, it is vital to invest in women. She also stated that, if women have a stable income, they are able to feed their families and raise the quality of life for the family as well as the community.[104] Empowerment is important for the alleviation of poverty and the upholding of human rights. If a woman is empowered, she has a sense of self -worth, has a right to have a choice, a right to access opportunities and resources, she has control over her life within and outside home and is able to influence change nationally and internationally. If a woman is empowered she can have a voice and can participate in all matters affecting her and be able to make changes where necessary. The first key to empowerment is education; women and girls need to be educated so that they can work their way out of poverty. There is a link between women empowerment and the elimination of poverty. Gender equality can lift millions of people out of poverty. Empowerment means people enquiring power to think and act freely and make their own choices, when one is empowered they are able to be in control and be able to make changes in their lives.[105] Women who have been forced to be combatants need special assistance during disarmament, demobilization and reintegration but most of the time these needs are overlooked. Maybe the reason is that the role of combatant has always been associated with males. As a result, there are few females in that role. Nevertheless, it has been noted that the number of women combatants is increasing especially in countries like Zimbabwe, Nepal, Uganda, Sierra Leone and many others; therefore women need to be supported. Disarmament, demobilization and resolution programmes should be based on a clear understanding of gender roles and the specific gender inequalities in a given population. Since women are important stakeholders in ending conflict, they should be fully involved in drafting of Disarmament, Demobilization and Integration plans and programmes. According to Megan MacKenzie, empowerment goes together with development and it should be driven by local interests and should represent community needs.[106] She states that using reintegration programmes for female soldiers in Sierra Leone as a case study is appropriate.[107] Furthermore, responsibility and economic order will improve empowerment initiatives to a far greater extent than considering local input and marginalised groups. Cynthia Cockburn argues that there are two schools of thought in peace and post-conflict studies, those who stand above and look for rational value- free solutions and those who take issues with ideas of neutrality in post conflict reconstruction.[108] Because the emphasis is on women, it is important to develop programmes and policies that represent them as the marginalised group. Since there are many policies that emerges for development, their motivation need to be checked and validated if they will address the need of the communities.[109] The stance of feminists who argue that involvement of women emphasizing language and discourse is important appears reasonable and practical. Women need to speak for themselves and identify the areas that need development rather than imposing of them. That women need to have a voice in all matters that concerns them is beyond an argument because women’s issues need to be handled by women, as they understand the issues better. Therefore, women involvement in policies is paramount to empowerment. It is believed that investing in gender equity and women empowerment is important for improving the economic, political and social conditions in the developing countries within the framework of sustainable development; it also enhances the total effectiveness of aid. Empowerment of women was also announced as the main objective at the Copenhagen Declaration of the World Summit on Social Development, and it has been recognised as a major policy goal in the Millenium Development Goal by the United Nations Development Programme. This programme emphasizes individual participation, as well as skills and economic self- reliance, which help women to sustain themselves in be able to combat poverty.[110] The World Bank defines empowerment as a process that will increase the capacity of individuals or groups to make their choices and be able to transform them into actions and outcomes (World Bank 2007). Empowerment is the term linked to local, equality, effectiveness, self -help, capacity building and decentralisation and the United Nations Population Fund recognises micro finance as a vital approach to empowering women.[111] Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration are programmes that are sources of empowerment post-conflict. Disarmament can be explained as the collection of light and heavy weapons which were used in a conflict zone.[112] Demobilization is the process where structures which were there during conflict are disbanded and combatants are slowly transformed to normal civilian life.[113] Reintegration occurs when the ex-combatants are assisted to adapt economically and socially to productive social life. This is a long process which needs a lot of intervention from different stakeholders such as the social workers, psychologists and many more. Counselling is important to help the former combatants to recover and be admitted back to the community. Empowerment is listed as the major objective of post-conflict programmes, especially in Sierra Leone where soldiers were stripped of their power as soldiers and ‘empowered’ as valued citizens of the post-conflict community. United States Agency for International Development was seen in Sierra Leone as equipping local people with skills for decision making, ways of tackling corruption and on methods used to contain those who abuses human rights.[114] The United Nations has also been seen in action in different parts of the world. For instance, in Jordan, refugees are offered free education ensuring that refuges do not lose their right to education. In Sudan UN has facilitated vocational skills training which help the community to do something and contribute to the society. The Child Protection Committees of Sierra Leone 1998 emphasized the fact that projects must involve local skills and techniques based on the traditional and customary knowledge; and that preferences should be given to occupations related to local markets. They also emphasized the fact that all training programmes should be based on market assessments before implementation. The United Nations programmes have empowered women in Nepal through Women Weavers Launch; most women have gained weaving skills and now they are able to set up their own businesses to lift themselves out of poverty. These projects help to uplift communities and improve the status of women. It can be argued that these measures are not reflective of empowerment, but of imposition which can be difficult to answer and can only be raised as a concern by those involved. It is argued here that such measures can be both, especially in cases where the community is not fully involved, other agencies will bring aid on their terms and condition that can be regarded as imposition. Communities are very vulnerable post-conflict; they are at the position of accepting any help that comes their way to lift them out of their difficult conditions. Therefore, a strong leadership is important to evaluate all the policies and ensure that the communities will benefit from the projects being offered. Reintegration is formed to support and assist those former combatants to find other ways of channelling their energy in a positive manner and be involved in other projects that will benefit them and their societies.[115] In Sierra Leone most women complained that they did not benefit much from these programmes because training opportunities were limited probably because of poor market assessment. The UNICEF project ‘The Girls Left Behind,’ which was a project specifically for females, only included 6 areas of training which was not what the community needed at that time. And other international organisations also offered limited skills for ex-combatants but it did not benefit them because it was not what the community needed also there were limited vacancies and as a result those skills were seen as useless.[116] Overall, the reintegration programmes were limited and did not meet the needs of the desired beneficiaries. The coordinators of the programmes did mention that the challenge was the lack of pre market assessment and the involvement of the ex-soldiers themselves to find out what are their needs after all that has happened to them, how can they be assisted to reintegrate. It can be argued that in Sierra Leone there was some form of imposition from those who provided projects to assist in empowering ex- combatants and the community at large. But that cannot be final because others did benefit in some areas such as the micro-credit initiatives which helped women to gain financial independence and were able to support their families.

Chapter 4

Women and Leadership

The Beijing Platform for Action considers women’s participation in decision making as a necessary condition for taking women’s interest into account.[117] It further stresses out that failure to incorporate women in decision making levels will lead to failure in achieving equality development and peace.[118] The United Nations Security Council had recognised the importance of involvement of women for successful results of peace processes in Resolution 1325 of 2000.[119] The United Nations has long been cognisant of the changing nature of warfare, which now requires an increasing awareness of the gender dimensions of war and peace. When addressing the United Nations Security Council, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has emphasised that “women leadership is central to reconciliation and conflict resolution and to peacebuilding efforts that bring results for families and communities.”[120] Mlanbo-Ngcuka has also emphasised on the important role of women in war against terrorism.[121] Despite the increasing awareness of importance of women leadership in both domestic as well as international contexts, it is to be pointed out that the desired results have not yet been achieved. The number of women in leadership positions is still lower than men in several areas. This is not to say that progress has not taken place, but there are still a lot of challenges to be faced because men remain major decision makers in different settings.

Women in Leadership Positions

More improvements are seen in the political arena, in most countries women hold ministerial positions and some are head of states which shows that a cultural shift is taking place. However, the changes are slow and not equally distributed in all regions of the world. In South Africa, it has been reported by Major General Memela (a woman) that putting a woman as a minister in the organisation took some time.[123] Major General Memela also stated that the Mission of the South African National Defence Force has been realigned within a democratic framework which accommodates gender equality, and allows full participation of both women and men in providing security for the country.[124] It is in the domain of politics that women play the most important role as leaders today.[125] The importance of women leadership in politics emanates from the fact that women leaders will be in an influential position as law makers and implementers, which will be useful for alleviating the position of women in the society. The increase of women representation in politics is key to ensuring the advancement of women in the society.[126] However, women remain underrepresented in political offices around the world. One of the major factors responsible for this is the stereotyping of women and the undue focus on the domestic status and responsibilities of women, which creates a clear and enduring prejudice against women in politics. Despite these prejudices, there are a number of women who have managed to make a place for themselves within domestic and national leaderships.


It is the duty of all governments and national bodies to ensure that they encourage the women to occupy positions of leadership within the society. Governments must also ensure mechanisms to monitor the progress of women into senior positions of leadership. They must develop communication strategies to promote gender equality debates in public and in families. New employment policies need to be adopted in order to achieve gender equality at professional levels and above. Leadership training need to be provided to assist women with disabilities, as well as creation of systems for mentorship for those women who lack experience. It is important that men are not excluded to promote non -discriminatory working relationships and respect diversity in the workplace. It can be concluded that the world needs women leaders, both in domestic as well as international domains. Women leaders bring diversity of opinion and expertise, which can be particularly useful in peace maintenance. Women leadership also is important for gender equality; and equal rights and equal representation of both men and women in all spheres of life. It also highlights the fact that participation of women, offers new perspectives and diversity in policy making. It can be noted that development and empowerment of women are the key issues in improving the economy of countries. This research has considered the work done by the United Nations and other organisations in bringing peace around the world, and its contribution in ensuring that policies are geared in such a way that women are offered leadership positions where they can make decisions that influence change. We have seen that women are now transformed from being passive characters to active leaders. The rise of women leaders such as Angela Markel, Theresa May, Hillary Clinton and many others, is indicative of the fact that women are slowly coming to occupy important positions in politics. As such, these women are capable of bringing diversity to discourse on war and peace and also influence the laws and policies for women empowerment. Although there have been improvements in the area of gender relations in the context of leadership; gender issues and gender equality at domestic level are still challenges that are to be overcome. These challenges are the most apparent in conflict related situations. It can be argued that more policies and institutional frameworks are needed to protect women in pre and post- conflict to meet their social, economic, and political needs. This work looked at the different views within the feminism discourse. The view of the Third World feminists addressed different concept of culture and imperialism, which has not been addressed by other schools within feminism theory. This is important for understanding the role of women in conflict ridden states within the Third World. Cynthia Enloe’s view on the military and her research on the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation was also discussed. In my view, women are not compelled to join the military; they go there out of their own will because of patriotism and economic reasons. The military must set an example of implementing gender equality policies as laid down by the United Nations. The role that can be played by women in leadership positions cannot be over emphasised. Especially in the context of post conflict societies, women leaders are needed to give a much needed perspective on women rights, which is one of the most neglected areas within post conflict discourse. Women are no longer to be seen as passive victims of the conflict, but must be seen as active participants in re-structuring post- conflict societies. By ensuring a greater involvement by women, there is a better possibility that the rights of women and even children in post-conflict societies will be focussed on.



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