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The Role of Gender in Peacebuilding

2009 October 1

By Juontel White

think gender“Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Peacebuilding” was one of many workshops held at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Conference.

Led by Patricia T. Morris, PhD, executive director of Peace X Peace, an international women’s organization dedicated to peacebuilding, this workshop addressed the importance of incorporating a gender framework within the peacebuilding process.

Morris began with a simple phrase: “Men and women respond to conflict differently.”

She went on to explain that the roles, activities, needs, constraints and opportunities associated with being male or female directly impact the policies and process of peacebuilding.

As such, Morris argues, it is important to mainstream gender equality within peacebuilding.

Unlike gender sensitivity, which calls for individuals to simply understand the differences between men and women, gender mainstreaming is the active transformation “of unequal social and institutional structures into equal and just structures” for both genders, says Morris.

“Mainstreaming is not about adding a ‘woman’s component’ or even a ‘gender equality component’,” she continues. “It means bringing the experience, knowledge and interests of women and men to bear on the peacebuilding agenda.”

Some of the leading gender issues in peace and security are the inclusion of women in negotiations and peace processes, integrating human rights and women’s security into the security sector program, and ending conflict related sexual and gender-based violence, such as war rape.

InterAction’s Commission on the Advancement of Women developed the gender integration framework to help organizations implement a process to address such gender issues.

This framework consists of four key components: political will, in which leaders communicate their organization’s commitment to gender equality; technical capacity, the skills necessary to institutionalize gender equitable processed in an organization; accountability, ways to identify the extent to which an organization is practicing the gender equality it says it is; and finally organizational culture, assessing the norms, beliefs and codes of behavior within an organization that support or undermine gender equality.

By using this framework, organizations can better mainstream gender equality internally as well as in their practices and by this, a more sustainable peace can be attained.

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