Over the past year, USIP’s Gender and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation has hosted a series of events entitled “The Other Side of Gender." This series of events, which sought to broaden the gender lens and create a more nuanced research agenda, have greatly informed this Peace Brief.

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Summary

  • Gender is often used synonymously with the study of women. This narrow approach over looks the relational quality of gender and fails to include masculinity issues in analysis and research, which can have important bearing on policy interventions.
  • Taking a more inclusive view of gender roles in conflict, which also recognizes that these roles are dynamic, can lead to more informed research strategies and more productive policy interventions.
  • To effectively combat instances of extreme gender violence, such as the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, a more nuanced understanding is needed of the actors involved.
  • Instead of being passive actors during conflict, women may be combatants or direct participants in sexual violence. Examining the motivations, belief systems and internal dynamics of armed combatants can provide insight into the origins of sexual- and gender-based violence in conflict.
  • Rather than representing an isolated event, sexual- and gender-based violence during conflict can perhaps best be viewed as a point along a continuum. In the postconflict period, damaged social and economic systems may contribute to the disempowerment of men seeking to return to traditional or customary roles. Coupled with the enduring impacts of trauma, the threat of emasculation can result in high levels of violence within the household environment.

About this Brief

Over the past year, the United States Institute of Peace’s Gender and Peacebuilding Center has hosted a series of events entitled, “The Other Side of Gender,” including an experts’ workshop on May 18, 2010, on the topic of how conflict changes gender roles.

Kathleen Kuehnast is the director of the Gender and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation for the U.S. Institute of Peace; Nina Sudhakar is the research assistant for the Gender and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation. This series of events, which sought to broaden the gender lens and create a more nuanced research agenda, have greatly informed this PeaceBrief.

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