Women and men experience conflict in different ways and therefore understand peace in different ways.
The world is continuing to hear about the desperate situation of many women in conflict zones, in refugee camps and in societies which continue to exclude women and girls from everyday life outside the home. In conflict zones, women and girls are vulnerable to sexual slavery, rape and other forms of gender-based violence, with little prospect of escape. Women are also disproportionately represented in the world’s refugee population, which, for women refugees is compounded by the vulnerability of being female in addition to losing statehood and access to critical healthcare and education.
Without overlooking the very serious consequences of displacement and sexual violence for women, the position of women in many conflict-affected or post-conflict societies is critical for the development of sustainable peace.
This does not mean that women are the answer and peace is more easily facilitated by women. Rather, it is the reality of war, the absence of men and women’s experiences during conflict which open a space for them in society. Many women who have survived conflict and violence have gone on to set-up schools for girls, health centres and women’s organisations to lead the path to peace.
It is through such community facilitation and grassroots activism that these organisations have flourished and have contributed to re-shaping some gender norms and social structures which continue to subordinate women.
Success in the face of centuries-old social norms and cultural practices however is a battle not easily won by women activists. Nevertheless, it is these women’s commitments to social justice, equality and women’s rights which critically contribute to the creation of more peaceful societies.
Read more at Visions of Humanity