A Workshop with Leading Researchers and Practitioners on Conflict and Gender

This event focuses on the gender dimensions of conflict, especially how conflict changes gender roles. Although much of the discussion on gender and conflict has been organized around women as victims, more and more research indicates the need for new models; namely, that women are also considerable actors in conflict, peace and security, and that the discussion of gender must be expanded from an advocacy platform to one inclusive of policy. The study of gender-based violence in conflict must also include a more nuanced understanding of the motives of perpetrators, who are often but not always male. Men must also be understood as victims and/or witnesses to horrific acts of violence on family members. Conflict also changes gender roles for those who are in formal militaries or informal militias.  All of this work is fraught with methodological and ethical challenges. The workshop will identify key challenges and themes that require further analysis and research, as well as implications for policymakers.

Session 1:  "The Left of the Left of the Boom” --Psycho-Social Triggers of Gender Extremism

10 am – 12 Noon

  • Dara Cohen
    Assistant Professor, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
    Theme: Reexamining the Role of Women in Armed Groups: Women and Wartime Rape in Sierra Leone
  • Col. Matt Venhaus
    Jennings Randolph Army Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace
    Theme: Why Youth Join al-Qaeda: And How to Prevent It
  • Jocelyn Kelly
    Gender-Based Violence Research Coordinator, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Harvard University
    Theme: Voices of Combatants: Militia Members Speak About Conflict and Sexual Violence in the DRC
  • Lindsay Stark
    Senior Researcher, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
    Theme: Measuring Violence aganst Women amid War and Displacement in Northern Uganda
  • Michael Anastario
    Senior Research Scientist, Cicatelli Associates
    Theme: Structuring Sexual Risk Among Men in the Belize Defense Force
  • Virginia Bouvier, Discussant
    Senior Program Officer, Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, U.S. Institute of Peace

Lunch 12 to 12:30PM:  Sponsored by The Family Violence Prevention Fund

  • Kiersten Stewart
    Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
    Family Violence Prevention Fund

Session 2:  "Weapon  of War:  Confessions of Rape in Congo"

12:30pm – 2:30pm

  • Major-General Patrick Cammaert
    Former Commander of the Eastern Division, UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC)
    Theme: Addressing sexual and gender-based violence in UN and international peacekeeping

Film and Discussion: “Weapon of War:  Confessions of Rape in Congo"

  • Ilse Van Velzen and Femke Van Velzen, Filmmakers
    Synopsis: During decades of conflict in the DRC, possibly thousands of women and girls have been systematically raped, and the figure is still rising.  In this film, military perpetrators unveil what lies behind this brutal behavior and the strategy of rape as a war crime. The film tells the story of an ex-rebel who attempts to reconcile his past by meeting one of his victims, and a soldier who has made it his mission to confront perpetrators of rape with the consequences of their crimes.

Session 3:  From War to Post-Conflict:  Breaking The Cycle of Gender Violence

2:45pm – 4pm

  • Maria Correia
    Program Manager, Fragile States, Conflict and Social Development Unit, Africa Region, The World Bank
    Theme: “Menstreaming” development
  • Jennifer Olmsted
    Associate Professor of Economics, Drew University
    Theme: Gendering of Employment in Post-Oslo Palestine
  • Dale Buscher
    Director, Protection Program, Women’s Refugee Commission
    Theme: Post-Conflict Continuum: The Rise of Female Economic Activity and the Rise of Domestic Abuse
  • Marc Sommers, Discussant
    Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace

Session 4:  "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo"

4:00pm – 6:00pm

Film and Discussion: “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo”

  • Lisa F. Jackson, Director/Producer
    Synopsis: Violence against women in conflict has been called one of history’s greatest silences. This documentary was filmed in the war zones of the DRC over several months in 2006 and 2007.  The filmmaker confronts unabashed Congolese soldiers, asks activists for their perspectives on the fate of Congo’s women, and travels to hospitals, shelters, and remote villages to find rape survivors, who pay witness to their own experience by breaking their silence.


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