National Peace Essay Contest 2012-2013 Topic and Question
Gender, War and Peacebuilding
Contemporary analysis of war and peace issues often draws on the idea of human security—in addition to national security— in order to focus on the individual as well as the connections between individuals and groups within societies. In that way, peace depends on the belief by all those affected (referred to as "stakeholders") by the outcome of a negotiated peace or the resumption of war and violence that their needs and aspirations will be taken into account. Increasingly, for some, the inclusion of women is an essential, if not the most important, element to understanding the roots of a conflict and also to develop innovative, viable solutions that can help establish sustainable peace.
The importance of bringing gender into peacebuilding is not confined to redressing the violations of the human rights of women or addressing women's economic, social, or justice needs. Instead, for many, a gendered perspective represents peacebuilding as a process of inclusion. The inclusion of diverse groups in a society (the powerful and powerless) is important, especially those who have been victims of war; those who have been dispossessed; those who have been excluded from power, position and access; those without a voice or capacity to influence or shape the many political, economic, and social forces that determine their choices in life; and, finally, those who can lead efforts or contribute to economic reconstruction, community development, or meeting the needs of displaced peoples as societies transition from war to peace. One of the great challenges in peacebuilding today is how to bring in marginalized groups, particularly women, most effectively into processes designed to address the effects of war and to build lasting peace.
Please select two international or intra-national conflicts from the past ten years and describe briefly the attempts at peacemaking and/or peacebuilding. Choose one in which peace has been established and one in which peace efforts have failed. In comparing the outcomes of the conflicts, discuss whether inclusive and gendered approaches affected peacebuilding processes or an actual peace agreement.
What does it mean to have a gendered approach to war and peace issues?
In your analysis, discuss the following in 1500 words:
- Analyze how gender issues contribute to the success or failure of the peace efforts you have selected.
- What is it about the needs of sustainable peacebuilding today that makes gender relevant?
- What methods and approaches are the most effective in bringing marginalized groups, including women, into a peacebuilding process?
- Would you recommend for future peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts the inclusion of a gender orientation to war and peace? Are there any limitations or drawbacks to the inclusion of gender issues and marginalized groups in peacebuilding efforts?