Background

War and peace are gendered. Men and women bring differing values, perceptions and experiences to conflict, and gender differences shape the ways in which wars are fought and peace is built. Masculinity and femininity overlap in complex ways in both military operations and peacebuilding. These challenges, however, have generally been inadequately addressed in traditional research in peace and conflict studies. Men’s perceptions, experiences and values have been routinely prioritized, both by researchers and by policymakers. The perceptions and experiences of women have received far more limited attention.

This situation is changing, however, and gendered imbalances have begun to receive more attention. Policymakers and academics increasingly see the value of analysing peace and conflict situations through a gendered optic. The picture that emerges reveals a more nuanced image of conflict, along with new resources for peacebuilding. The most important expression of this change is the unanimous adoption in October 2000 of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This resolution stresses the importance of women’s equal and full involvement in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security. Particular emphasis is placed on the need to increase the role of women in conflict prevention and conflict resolution activities.