Women and men are affected by conflict in specific ways. Understanding this is what is known as a gender approach to conflict and security. Adopting a gender sensitive approach can have a major impact on sustainable peace.
Without this approach, different women’s roles and needs are often overlooked in conflict resolution and post conflict activities. Women can, and should, be playing a critical role in preventing conflict, building peace and reconstructing their societies.
The origin of gender approaches to conflict analysis comes from the women’s movement and traditionally these approaches have involved empowering women and encouraging their participation at multiple levels in order to achieve sustainable peace and equality.
However, women’s needs are routinely excluded in processes of transitional justice and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.
We must recognise that women disproportionately suffer displacement and are hit hard by the destruction of key infrastructure; including health and educational services. We must understand that women and children make up almost 80% of refugees and face severe shortages of disposable income. We must make policies that concede that women are more often targeted with sexual violence.
By not doing so we continue to ignore the specific individual, social, economic and political problems that result.
A gender perspective to conflict response takes these facts into consideration.