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Profiles: 2013 International Women of Courage Awardees Highlight Ways that Women Impact Peace and Security

By Jane Mosbacher Morris

On March 8th, Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama presented one of few accolades that recognizes major contributors to women, peace, and security—the International Women of Courage Awards (IWC). All nine deserving recipients had a unique and compelling backstory replete with moments of great loss, accomplishment, and, of course, perseverance.

Awardee Malalai Bahaduri of Afghanistan currently serves as a Senior Instructor in the Afghan National Interdiction Unit (NIU). Bahaduri chose to pursue a career in law enforcement shortly after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002, a decision that so angered her uncle that he broke her nose. The then-mother of three refused to allow skeptics within her family and community to dissuade her, however, and went on to become the first female member of the NIU.

Sadly, her uncle’s reaction is not uncommon in Afghanistan, as many women seeking to serve in the security sector face intense discrimination, despite risking their lives to protect the same people that threaten them. I, women serving in law enforcement or in the military can help to generate trust and more effusive lines of communication between the security organization and target segments in the population, such as other women and children. Despite the unique benefits that women can bring, Bahaduri represents one of few women who are brave enough to take on a formal role in the security sector.

Like Bahaduri, Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin and Ms. Fartiim Adam, two civil society leaders from Nigeria and Somalia, have also positioned themselves on the frontlines in order to advance peace in their communities. In Nigeria, Dr. Odumakin serves as President of the Campaign for Democracy, where she has advocated on behalf of over 2,000 women who have faced assault by Kenyan police; have suffered the loss of children to negligent hospital or school administrators; or have seen corrupt government officials extra-judicially kill their family members. Arrested and detained more than seventeen times, Dr. Odumakin refuses to relent and continues to champion for stability and justice in Kenya.

In nearby Somalia, Ms. Adan, Executive Director of Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, unwaveringly calls for education as an alternative to the ongoing conflict in Somalia, notwithstanding surviving horrors like the assassination of her husband. At the Elman Centre that she manages, Adan offers reintegration programming, like job trainings and placements, to former child soldiers. Ms. Adan has also given her life to fight for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, establishing Somalia’s first sexual violence hotline and rape crisis center.

Odumakin and Adan’s efforts illustrate the dangers of leading civil society organizations aimed at piecing together basic rule of law, not to mention the lives of so many of the victims that they serve. Obdumakin and Adan’s steadfast dedication to promoting human security can only be matched by other IWC awardees like Dr. Julieta Castellanos, who serves on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Honduras.

Dr. Castellanos has vocally campaigned against the drug cartels and the stronghold that they exercise over a justice sector awash with corruption. She has helped to mobilize over 400 civil society organizations in order to amplify their call for law enforcement reform and has even caught the attention of Honduras’s President [1]. Sadly, she also caught the attention of several corrupt police, who murdered Castellanos’ 22 year-old son in 2011. Like other awardees, though, Dr. Castellanos carries on promoting peace and security regardless of the risks, claiming that she won’t stop, even if it costs her life [2].

While some women leverage the security, justice, or civil society sector to promote peace and security, other women choose to use the power of information. Three bloggers from Tibet, Syria, and Vietnam were among the 2013 IWAC awardees, but their seemingly innocuous form of expression does not come without significant personal consequences.

Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan poet, author, and blogger who has detailed human rights abuses against her people, has been under constant watch from China’s security agents and has been moved in and out of house arrest. To the South, Phong Tan, a Vietnamese blogger who has vocally criticized the Communist Party of Vietnam, is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for “conducting propaganda against the state”. In the Middle East, Razan Zeitunah, a Syrian blogger who has reported on the atrocities that Syrian government officials have committed against their own citizens, has been in hiding from the Assad regime for almost two years.

None of these heroic women was able to travel to receive their prize. In spite of the extraordinary risks and repercussions that each have faced, all three women have made a concerted effort to shine a spotlight on the way that undemocratic governments can undermine basic peace and security within their own states. Without the strength of these women, the plight of their communities could go under-reported to the international community, allowing the bad actors to operate with further impunity.

Similarly, Russian journalist Elena Milashina received the 2013 IWC award for working tirelessly to expose the extrajudicial killings and kidnappings that erode the security of her country. Enduring physical and verbal attacks, including a steady stream of threats from people in the public and private sectors, Milashina has continued to be a staunch critic of a government that appears to be increasingly disinterested in peace and security abroad, let alone within its own borders.

Secretary Kerry and First Lady Obama presented the final award posthumously to the young woman whose tragic gang rape robbed her of her life and generated international press coverage of the pervasiveness of sexual assault around the world. Referred to at the ceremony as “Nirbhaya”, meaning fearless, this young woman fought long enough to stay alive in order to provide two police statements and to demand that action be taken against her six attackers. “Nirbhaya’s” heartbreaking suffering inspired mass protests in India that lead the Indian government to initiate preliminary reforms that could help to chip away at a judicial system unequipped to effectively counter sexual and gender-based violence.

These nine extraordinary women unquestionably deserve the honor bestowed upon them by the International Courage Awards, but they represent a tiny fraction of the women fighting to advance peace and security, often at the expense of their own lives. Whether in the security or judicial sectors, civil society, online, or as everyday citizens like “Nirbhaya”, women everywhere are carving out unique ways to contribute to peace and security, sometimes overtly, but often quietly. It becomes our job, then, to champion their efforts, calling attention to them, when safe to do so, and reminding the international community that the change-makers in these countries are not just sitting in government.


[2] Ibid.

About the author:

Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Director of Humanitarian Action at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. She previously worked at the U.S. State Department on counterterrorism, as well as on women, peace, and security. She has a MBA from Columbia and a BSFS from Georgetown.

Note:

Biographical information about the awardees was taken from the Department of State International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony program, if not otherwise noted.

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By Ryan Nichols

Women’s leadership in the development and implementation of innovative approaches to building peace is integral to engaging with the greater field of peace and security. Just as peace processes benefit from women delegates - and transitional justice from women judges and advocates - so too does the creative development of new fields benefit from women theoreticians and practitioners. Nowhere is this more evident than in the small, but promising field of Peace through Health. As the field has grown, two women have figured prominently in articulating the theoretical development of the field and demonstrating examples of its effective implementation. Looking to the work of Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara and Dr. Paula Gutlove, it is evident that their leading roles have been an invaluable contribution to the development of a new and innovative approach to building peace.

What is Peace through Health?

DFIDPhoto.jpgPeace through Health is an approach to peacebuilding that utilizes the unique access and position of health care professionals to positively impact conflict. It is based on the recognition that health and conflict are intimately related, and that health care professionals are often accorded access to denied areas/populations, held in high social esteem, and practice a profession defined – at least in part - by altruistic principals. Peace through Health seeks to take advantage of these characteristics through using health programming and professionals to promote opportunities for dialogue, address issues of structural conflict, and facilitate personal and communal healing in post-conflict settings.

The first examples of Peace through Health efforts were undertaken by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in the early 1980’s to address conflict between guerilla groups and the government in El Salvador and Peru. Using mutual concern over children’s health, PAHO implemented a campaign of  “days of tranquility” or temporary cease-fires in order to immunize children from both groups against preventable disease. Through temporary ceasefires that continually grew in length, space and time were created to bring opposing groups to the table, eventually leading to a political resolution of the armed conflict. The idea of using immunization campaigns as a way to temporarily halt hostilities, while at the same time providing for the basic health needs of their respective populations, soon took hold. Primarily through the work of the WHO, similar campaigns were introduced throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s in countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, and Sri Lanka among others. As these efforts grew, so too did similar programming using trauma recovery and psychosocial interventions as a means to heal from conflict and prevent its resumption.

Influential Women Leaders

Though work had begun to be done pairing health and conflict programming, there was little theoretical or academic support for such efforts until the late 1990’s. When individuals in the academic community finally began discussing these joint efforts, the voice of Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara was consistently at the front of the field. Through her association with the Center for Peace Studies at McMaster University, as well as her many publications, she advocated for the growth of Peace through Health as a field. During her time at McMaster, the university established the Peace through Health Initiative and led the academic world in the development of Peace through Health. The university convened the first academic conference related to the field in 2001, soon followed by a second in 2005. Throughout this entire process, Dr. Santa Barbara, in partnership with Dr. Graeme MacQueen, also established the first university course in Peace through Health. And in 2008, she co-edited the first comprehensive book on the field, Peace through Health: How Health Professionals Can Work for a Less Violent World, in collaboration with Dr. Akshaya Neil Arya.

In addition to leading the academic development of the field, she was influential in articulating the principals upon which a solid theory defining the new field could grow. Through her articles co-authored with Dr. MacQueen, she articulated ten guiding mechanisms that continue to underlie the theoretical explanations of why Peace through Health can be an effective way of promoting peace. Additionally, she helped formulate the theoretical stages of involvement of health care professionals with conflict in a manner consistent with traditional conflict resolution theory.

At the same time that Dr. Santa Barbara was playing an influential role in the academic and theoretical development of Peace through Health, Dr. Paula Gutlove was at the forefront of implementing Peace through Health programming. A dentist by training, Dr. Gutlove founded the Health Bridges for Peace project at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies (IRSS) in 1996. As the project director Dr. Gutlove utilized her training in negotiation, facilitation, and conflict resolution to implement programming that integrated the delivery of health care with conflict management and sustainable community reconciliation.

Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Dr. Gutlove facilitated the development of medical networks in the former Yugoslavia and North Caucasus.  These medical networks used the shared concern for public health as a way to bring health care professionals from conflicting ethnic and religious groups together. Once convened, the meetings were designed to provide training in negotiation and conflict resolution skills, brainstorm the development on locally implementable psychosocial healing programs, and provide a safe space in which individuals from different groups could interact and share information. In addition to her work in developing medical networks, Dr. Gutlove has also been consistently involved in the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative, again using a shared interest in public health as a way to promote dialogue and negotiation. With her efforts over the last decade and a half, Dr. Gutlove has been a consistent and tireless practitioner using health as a vehicle for peace. Her work has done much to promote peace, and demonstrate the practical applicability of the theory Dr. Santa Barbara helped articulate.

Conclusion

The theoretical development of new and innovative ways to build peace plays an integral role in the growth of the field of peace and security. Without envisioning new paths to address issues of conflict and security, or the creative combination of existing efforts, potential gains are lost. The pioneering work of Dr. Santa Barbara and Dr. Gutlove provides a tangible demonstration of the valuable role women can and should play in this creative work. While the field of Peace through Health still has a long way to mature – and women will most certainly continue to play a leading role in its development – it’s growth to date constitutes a strong example of the way in which peace, conflict, and security has benefited from women’s leadership.

Ryan Nichols is a Research Assistant at the Institute for Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University. He is currently a candidate in the Master of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University. His course work has centered on sectarian conflict in Lebanon, as well as integrating conflict resolution objectives into global health activities. Ryan is presently engaging the latter interest through his thesis research involving the development and facilitation of a curriculum introducing interpersonal conflict resolution skills to Veterans with PTSD. In addition to his work in conflict resolution, Ryan is also in the process of applying to medical school with the intention of pursuing a career that positively influences both conflict and health.

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EN(GENDER)ING Peace © 2012 – Please contact Mayesha Alam, editor of this blog, with any questions/comments at sfswomenpsd[at]gmail.com

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By Jane Mosbacher Morris

Does the image of a female terrorist leave you glued to the TV?  Don’t let it—that’s what they want.

Terrorist organizations often use the shock value of a female violent extremist to capture the attention of the international media, tactfully playing upon the public’s bias that those with two-X chromosomes are unwilling or unable to commit an act of terrorism.

Yet, women have a long history of taking hostages, hijacking aircrafts, planting bombs, conducting assassinations, driving explosive-laden vehicles, and committing suicide attacks, not to mention performing the endless back-office tasks required to maintain an extremist organization.

In an evolving security environment, where responding to the latest threat can lead to short-term memory loss, many have forgotten the female-perpetrated, high-profile attacks that have stolen the lives of senior government officials and countless civilians.  To provide a statistical snapshot, women perpetrated an estimated 15% of total suicide attacks between 1980 and 2003 and, in certain organizations, like the PKK and Chechen Separatists, were responsible for the majority.  Given the numbers, why do we continue to be surprised each time a Jihad Jane ends up on the evening news?

Two assumptions likely contribute to our reluctance to acknowledge the dark side of women’s power.

TerrorismMagazineCover.jpgOne explanation is the belief that those who would advocate for restrictive roles for women in society would forbid them from carrying out terrorist activities that require both operational and intellectual facility.  These very organizations exploit our assumption, however, and look at women as a tactical advantage.  To the delight of violent extremists, security officers often perceive females as less suspicious and allow them to evade male-dominated checkpoints, particularly in conservative environments. When wearing an abaya, women are able to hide bulky explosives from the eyes of the public, presenting a unique security threat to even the most observant.  Terrorist organizations also strategically leverage women to recruit other men, arguing that if a woman is willing to sacrifice her life or time for the cause, so, too, should a man.

Special efforts are often made to recruit female participants.  Al-Qaida has produced a glossy magazine, Al-Shamikha, specifically designed for women, while others, like Al-Shabaab, purportedly use abduction to bolster enlistment.  Despite this, the vast majority of these women are knowingly volunteering their services.

This dynamic contradicts a second pervasive notion—that women are inherently more peaceful and therefore less likely to choose violence to achieve political ends.  The relative peacefulness of women versus men is not an unfounded argument, but tends to evolve into the mistaken belief that no women are violent.  An honest assessment suggests a more complex reality, in which some women actively lobby against violence; some remain silent on the issue; and others actively propagate its use.

The wife of Al-Qaeda’s new leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, for example, famously called on women to “to raise [their] children in the cult of jihad and martyrdom and to instill in them a love for religion and death”. Open source intelligence also reflects instances of mothers pressuring their husbands and sons to take up arms for the honor of their family, nation, or religion, or to enact revenge on warring tribes.

Given the not uncommon practice of women selling their daughters into prostitution, promoting child marriage, or even running brothels staffed by trafficked girls (a topic for a future blog post), we would be naive to presume that women lack the agency to use their brains and brawn for the advancement of malevolent causes.

Perhaps we are so busy advocating for the involvement of women in productive security processes that we have discounted when they are destructive.  While the vast majority of women (like men) are constructive citizens, ignoring the bad actors, regardless of their gender, creates very real and dangerous security consequences.  Downplaying the dark side of women’s power has perceptional consequences, as well, as it distracts from the facts that women do impact peace and security, both for good and for bad.  Until we can accept both sides of the coin, our stereotypical responses will continue to endanger the lives of our military, government, and civilian populations.

Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Director of Humanitarian Action for the newly-formed McCain Institute for International Leadership, where she is developing the Institute’s efforts to fight trafficking in persons, among other issues. Prior to joining the McCain Institute, she spent over five years at the United States Department of State working in the Bureau of Counterterrorism and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.  While there, she drafted the Department’s first Women and Counterterrorism Strategy. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and holds a MBA from Columbia Business School.


Source: Robert Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of SuicideTerrorism, Random House, 2005. P. 208-209.

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=52706

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/06/zawahiris-better-half-i-advise-you-to-raise-your-children-in-the-cult-of-jihad-and-martyrdom-and-to.html

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EN(GENDER)ING Peace © 2012 – Please contact Mayesha Alam, editor of this blog, with any questions/comments at sfswomenpsd[at]gmail.com

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By Kelsey Larsen

The regulation of the nexus between women, peace, and security is the responsibility of a number of international institutions and mechanisms. Encompassing laws, treaties, resolutions, and recommendations, this increasingly interconnected network aims to codify the important role of women in creating, sustaining, and promoting peace. But as this network continues to spread and mix rapidly, what do we really know about it? What are the most important things to know about international laws and institutions on women, peace, and security?

The most important thing to know is that UN Security Council Resolution 1325, unanimously adopted in 2000, is the foundation of the network. It reaffirms these important roles women serve in preventing, mitigating, and resolving conflicts and building, leading, and keeping peace. The specific language encourages all relevant actors to put women in these roles. Furthermore, it highlights how women are of course victims in conflict too—and how important it is for both the UN and its member states to protect them from gender-specific violence. UNSCR 1325 is the product of many coordinating agencies and observers across and outside of the UN system—from United Nations Fund for Women, to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, to International Alert—and has generated significant discussion and even another resolution on its mission, its progress, and its future in the twelve years since its adoption.

But UNSCR 1325 is nowhere near the end of the story on instruments. Its immediate successor was the sequence of UNSC Resolutions 1820 and 1888 adopted in 2008 and 2009 respectively, which focused on the specific prevalence of gender-based sexual violence during times of war. By highlighting this specific issue, these resolutions aimed to define and conquer a very real element of UNSCR 1325’s overall mission. They focus on broad spectrums both in effects of this kind of violence and in how to address it; considering the experiences that range from a broken woman to an exacerbated conflict, the resolutions propose strengthening mechanisms like advocacy, accountability, and participation. Most importantly, they have garnered significant international support from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, further widening and deepening the impact of international instruments for women, peace, and security.

With the knowledge of this set of UN resolutions alone, the picture of progress thus far on women and security is a slow but steady one—one recent large and general decree on the importance of women, followed by one more-recent tailored decree on the importance of women relative to one specific issue. They are seemingly slow (but historically fast) and steady developments relative to women, peace, and security that should engender continued developments.  But just because these resolutions pioneered the exploration of this intersection does not mean they have ownership of this broad field. Some of the most important things to know about international instruments on women, peace, and security occur in the margins; these threads are perhaps finer, but are just as strong in building the web of international regulation on the role of women in peace and conflict.

Consider the Arms Trade Treaty, an in-progress collaboration of governments attempting to establish a legally binding instrument for standards relative to the international trade of conventional arms. Arms transfers and, particularly, the risk that said transfers are made inappropriately obviously have a large impact on the prevalence of violence against all humans, men and women alike. Gender could potentially be relegated to the back-seat on such an agreement. Yet, as this treaty is negotiated, several groups are emphasizing that the treaty should include explicit provisions requiring states not to allow “an international transfer of conventional arms when there is a substantial risk that the arms under consideration are likely to be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.” (PeaceWomen 2012) In this kind of instrument, gender is not the reason it is being established, but it is a central pillar to what it aims to accomplish.

The debate over the Arms Trade Treaty and other issues—the open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, the Human Rights Council’s debate on human rights independent of sexual orientation—all show that the web of international institutions relative to women, peace, and security is more than just a set of roots. Rather, the root resolutions of the Security Council are continuing to spawn independent institutions and mechanisms that grow from and incorporate a gender perspective. There is a great deal of work that must continue to be done, but women’s impact is no longer being treated separately from other important issues of conflict and its resolution.

Thus, the most important thing to know about international institutions on women peace and security? They are no longer just on women, peace, and security. Gender is finally becoming a discussion, albeit still a developing one, in the consideration of other issues. Policymakers and political leaders are finally accepting and acting on the notion that the participation of women in peace and security efforts, along with their protection, is inseparable from peace and security for all persons everywhere.

Kelsey Larsen is a research assistant at the Institute for Women, Peace & Security. She is currently completing her PhD in government at Georgetown University and has experience working on women, peace and security issues both domestically and internationally.

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EN(GENDER)ING Peace © 2012 – Please contact Mayesha Alam, editor of this blog, with any questions/comments at sfswomenpsd[at]gmail.com

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By Mayesha Alam

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” – Maya Angelou

In the aftermath of political upheaval and mass violence, transitional justice mechanisms can help to form new political and social bonds. Transitional justice initiatives usually address the most egregious human rights abuses and are thus selective in terms of what crimes are addressed, which perpetrators are held accountable and even which victims are offered redress. On one hand, transitional justice offers a set of legal and political mechanisms that can be utilized to facilitate accountability for perpetrators, justice for victims, inter-group reconciliation and truth telling. On the other hand, transitional justice creates the opportunity to establish an accurate historical record of a conflict and to offer voice to the voiceless by acknowledging different narratives based on varied experiences that may include extreme physical violence or entrenched socioeconomic suffering and political marginalization. Transitional justice, by both the virtues of its conceptualization and its overarching purpose, is at once focused on the past, the present and the future.

Kenya TJRC And yet, an all too common problem in transitional justice – as with other aspects of peace-building and post-conflict transformation – is the exclusion of women’s voices in the design and implementation of restorative and retributive processes. This blog post is the first in a three-part series on analyzing and evaluating the impact of including women in transitional justice processes: how does the participation of women in transitional justice intiatives – as judges and lawyers during criminal prosecutions, as witnesses of atrocities in truth commissions, as trauma counselors, as beneficiaries of economic reparations and many other roles – enhance the strength of the peace achieved, the pace of reconciliation between previously warring parties, and the economic or sociopolitical recovery of the state? While this entry focuses on gender justice generally, the upcoming posts will focus on specific cases where women’s participation enhanced transitional justice processes such as truth commissions and criminal prosecutions.

When a transitional justice institution fails to recognize and adequately address this challenge, half the affected population is at risk of underrepresentation, which in turn, undermines peace and security. Gender mainstreaming in transitional justice is imperative to fulfilling the functions of transitional justice, not least that of facilitating a transition from conflict to sustainable peace. By paying attention to the post-conflict needs of both men and women, in other words introducing various gender perspectives, instruments and institutions of transitional justice can become loci for forming more equal gender relations by helping to re-conceptualize what is meant by victimhood, atrocity, inequality, redress and ultimately, even justice.

Gendering transitional justice has begun to occupy a growing space in academic debates and political consciousness in the last twenty years but remains a largely peripheral consideration. Gender, as a social construct, is the categorization that distinguishes men from women and through this categorization shape the roles, wellbeing and influence of each group’s members. Gender inequality, generally, encompasses the widespread and historical hierarchical positioning of men as superior to women in their perspectives, actions and potential which thereby makes the perspectives, actions and potential of women less than.  (Buckley-Zistel and Stanley, 2012; Valji, 2009; Askin, 2003; Minow, 1998) Mainstreaming gender should be interpreted as inclusion of men and women in different processes of transitional justice, acceptance of valuable contributions to initiatives irrespective of gender-membership, and taking a head-on approach to challenges faced by both men and women. Gender analysis creates the foundation for establishing “gender justice,” which is, “the protection of human rights based on gender equality.” (Valji, 2010; Ambos et al., 2009, p.217) Gender equality is distinct from gender neutrality or “gender-blindness” because it rejects the ignorance of gender dimensions and demands equal protection and redress for men and women based on their experiences in conflict and their needs in transitioning from conflict to peace.

Quantifying the impact of gendered perspectives in transitional justice conflict transformation is difficult. Quantitative data is scarce and qualitative data is limited primarily to anecdotes recounted to journalists or researchers, oral histories and official records of courts, commissions or other local and international institutions. The Institute for Inclusive Security notes that although measuring the impact of women in transitional justice is difficult, the following holds universal truth:

“Women link official processes to communities and often provide information about crimes. They have knowledge of the dis­tinct, complex violations of rights women suffer that can significantly inform truth commission mandates, judicial opinions, reparations schemes, and proposals for policy reform. Temporary courts and commissions function better when women are included throughout. Witnesses speak more freely to female judges. Male defense attorneys speak more respectfully to female witnesses. When a female judge presides, courts are more gender sensitive and provide more sophisticated witness protection. Moving women to actively participate in consolidating peace ensures that their voices, concerns, and needs are recognized and addressed.” (Page, Garlo and Speare, 2010, p.1)

The value of gender sensitivity in conflict resolution and in particular within the realm of transitional justice, is not limited to its applicability for providing redress to victims of gross human rights violations and historical structural violence. Introducing a gendered perspective facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of why a type of violence was committed, against whom and what place that kind of violence holds in the psyche of perpetrators as well as the normative culture of the society in question.

Wars do not end simply and transitional justice initiatives do not begin simply; trying to understand and address the gender dimensions of both make each even more complex.  According to the former research director of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, undertaking a transitional justice initiative is much like walking a tightrope. Gender mainstreaming in transitional justice is an intricate, multidimensional and arduous process that requires stamina, political backing, local ownership and mass participation.

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EN(GENDER)ING Peace © 2012 – Please contact Mayesha Alam, editor of this blog, with any questions/comments at sfswomenpsd[at]gmail.com

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Egypt Woman Flag Smallest The EN(GENDER)ING Peace Blog is produced by the initiative to create an Institute for Women, Peace & Security in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Here, you will find commentary on a wide variety of issues pertaining to women, peace and security. The purpose of this blog is provide an open space for respectful intellectual discussion to enhance our collective understanding of why it is important to include women’s voices in the realms of peace and security and what difference women make. At the Institute, we firmly believe that the participation of women in decision-making and implementation of peace and security processes is sensible and beneficial not only to women but to whole societies. As such, the discussions here meant to drive the maximization of peace and security for all, not just for women.

Foci of individual blog posts will span recent research/policy/grassroots developments related to elevating the status of women in peace and security, including reviews of important events or announcements as well as critiques and analysis. Blog entries are aligned with the five main pillars of the Institute’s research framework. Below are just a few examples of questions we are interested in at the Institute:

· What are the structural and proximate gendered indicators of conflict and how does their exclusion from early-warning analysis impact conflict prevention?

·   Does the presence of women at negotiations affect the nature and sustainability of the resulting peace agreements? How?

·   What has been the impact of the introduction of women peacekeepers and women police officers on the efficacy of peace support operations?

·   What are the gender dimensions of conflict-induced displacement, forced migration and humanitarian emergencies?

·  How does lack of access to post-conflict development opportunities impact women’s contributions to economic growth and well being of vulnerable populations in post-conflict societies?

·     How can political, economic, cultural and legal gains secured by women during periods of violent conflict or political upheaval be sustained in the post-conflict phase?

·  How can gender mainstreaming be practiced in Disarmament Demobilization and Rehabilitation (DDR) and how does the involvement of women in DDR affect the overall success of such programs?

·    To what extent is international human rights law gendered and how does this impact the ability of women to participate in institutions for accountability (such as international criminal tribunals)?

Institute staff and guest experts from around the world contribute posts. Please note: all opinions expressed in any blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Institute. Thank you for your interest in these critical issues of our time. Feel free to leave comments and contact us if you have questions or are interested in contributing a post.

Jennifer Windsor

SFS Associate Dean & Interim Executive Director

&

Mayesha Alam

Special Assistant to the Dean & Institute Coordinator

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EN(GENDER)ING Peace © 2012 – Please contact Mayesha Alam, editor of this blog, with any questions/comments at sfswomenpsd[at]gmail.com

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