To enhance the understanding of the connection between gender roles and sustainable peace Acting Director Charlotte Lind participated in a course organized by the research institute SwissPeace.
– The course made me aware of the existing risks when encouraging women in conflict contexts to participate in negotiations, Charlotte says.
Dr. Julia Zulver, who is active in South America, was one of the lecturers. Her research focuses on women peace activists in Colombia. She shared concepts such as high-risk feminism and patriarchal backlash in relation to peace work. The concepts emphasize the connection between gender roles and sustainable peace and highlight the importance of analyzing conflicts from a gender perspective.
Zulver drew attention to the risks women face when engaging in dialogue with parties from the other side of a conflict. This can lead to them being seen as traitors and puts them at risk of being exposed to acts of violence.
Charlotte reflected on women’s participation in negotiations, or attempts to participate in negotiations, and how their engagement could lead to what Zulver calls patriarchal backlash. The counter-reactions are often acts of violence perpetrated by men against women. Therefore, it is important to reflect on how the organization should strengthen its work to ensure they contribute to the safety of women peace activists.
Furthermore, Zulver described how female peace activists in Colombia engage on several levels. They support each other when their spouses have been murdered, when their children are recruited to opposite sides or give each other financial support. The risk of sexual violence is a constant danger that women must contend with. Activities to support each other and protect themselves can cost them their lives and is what Zulver refers to as high-risk feminism.
To strengthen the organization’s work, Operation 1325 will use the International Civil Society Action Network’s (ICAN) guidelines for women’s security and peacebuilding. The guidelines will be passed on to local partner organizations in Yemen, who are currently implementing a project with women peace activists.
The importance of competence development
Charlotte describes the importance of competence development for the organization where courses like these play an important role. She explains that there exists an incredible amount of knowledge from which to draw upon, at many different levels, within this sector. Courses such as these encourage reflections on one’s own organization’s activities and working methods.
– It is important with continuous competence development to be able to provide good support to our local partner organizations, Charlotte says.
The course provided concrete gender analysis tools for the evaluation of projects. Lectures during the course dealt with topics such as the importance of the inclusion of men and boys in peace work and the importance of local women in peace processes. The participants also discussed various types of feminism in relation to peace work and analyzed conflicts from a gender perspective, focusing on different power structures.
All the acquired knowledge will be cultivated within the organization and will be used in the creation of new projects and within organizational work processes.
Do you want to learn more? Operation 1325 will continue to share its newfound knowledge on its social media channels. Look out for more information!