INTERNATIONAL: Gender in Peacebuilding

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
International Alert - Judy El-Bushra

This report reflects the findings of the preparatory stage of a three-year research project exploring the role of gender in peacebuilding. The starting point for the research was International Alert's belief that a gender approach, as a key component in the understanding of power dynamics, is critical to successful peacebuilding. The research hypothesis was that gender dynamics form a resource for peacebuilding which peacebuilders generally make insufficient use of, but that examples of projects and research do exist from which to draw lessons, and thereby improve peacebuilding practice.

This first stage of research confirmed the hypothesis, but identified a number of conceptual challenges and contradictions in the field of “gender and peacebuilding”. To facilitate the further exploration of these, a broad typology of peacebuilding programmes was proposed, based on the identification of three different approaches to gender:

Type 1: gender-blind approaches, in which the possibility of differential outcomes for men and women, or of outcomes that impact on relations between them, is either not acknowledged or considered to be incidental;

Type 2: approaches developed in the frame of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, in which it is axiomatic that women are more vulnerable and marginalised than men, and which apply gender analysis with the specific aim of counteracting this tendency for the betterment of women and of society more broadly;

Type 3: gender-relational approaches, which take a context specific relational gender analysis as their starting point and which aim at better benefit sharing generally, on the assumption that this leads to more peaceful outcomes for all.

Programmes adopting a Type 3 approach are under-represented in peacebuilding portfolios. As a result, little evidence is available on which to base discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. During the remainder of the research project, Alert will work with other organisations in a number of peacebuilding contexts to identify and examine examples of gender-relational projects, and draw lessons about their design and implementation which can be applied by peacebuilders.

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Gender and Peacebuilding