Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke
Chapter 32: Engendering peace, conflict and violence
Why is it important to understand the gendered dimensions of war and peace? The reason is simple and profound: even though it is quite possible to make formal peace without including women and looking at gender relations, the transformation of violent conflict is impossible without using these gendered lenses. I therefore want to argue that there are compelling empirical, theoretical, and normative reasons to include gender as a main category of analysis. Violence merits an important place in a contemporary analysis of gender and economic life. First, on an empirical level, societies organize the access to and use of different types of violence in a gendered way. For example, the world’s armed forces are still a male domain even though women are entering the military to a certain degree. Heads of state, diplomats, foreign and defense ministers, and the world’s richest persons are predominantly men. Women enter this picture mostly as exceptions to the rule or as victims of violence. Accepting this allocation of roles as a given and restricting one’s research to just one realm would imply disregarding the experiences and actions of 50 percent of the population. Second, on a more conceptual level, if war and peace involve both men and women in specific ways, we need to broaden our theoretical understanding of the state, peace, war, security, and democracy in order to adequately tackle these specific mechanisms of gendered inclusion and exclusion.
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