New International Research from WISERD published in the journal World Development* presents civil society perspectives on gender equality in post-conflict states.
This comparative study by Professor Paul Chaney examined developments in twelve-countries including: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Georgia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. The findings reveal the specific data and governance challenges that exist in war-affected states as policy actors press for heightened attention to issues such as the effects on women of war-induced poverty, human rights violations, and women’s empowerment in state reconstruction and peace-building.
The civil society discourse underlines how the legacy of war disrupts and diminishes civil society organizations’ networks and capacity to engage in policy work. Thus, for example, one NGO alluded to how: ‘threats and attacks on the right to life by the various combatants force women to move, for the most part, away from the rural areas, where they are conducting productive projects that empower other women and strengthen society, which causes a disruption of organizational processes’. Another underlined how conflict and militarization create a culture of violence that renders women especially vulnerable after war - because institutions of governance and law are weakened and social fragmentation is pronounced: ‘We reaffirm the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and to stress the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution’.
The WISERD analysis shows how the aftermath of war accentuates policy differences between civil society and governing elites. In response, the research seeks to address a gap in the existing literature on ‘transitional justice’ (or - the judicial and non-judicial measures implemented to redress the legacies of human rights abuses during conflict). This, the study argues, is necessary because, hitherto, the literatures of gender equality, civil society and transitional justice have largely travelled on parallel tracks. Accordingly, the research proposes a Transformative Model (TM) of gender justice in Post-conflict States. It is based on the proposition that various legal responses to peace-building and state reconstruction should be evaluated on: 1. the basis of their prospects for democracy and; 2. They should be informed by the idea of ‘‘gender justice”—or, ‘‘legal processes that are equitable, not privileged by and for men, and which acknowledge ways in which women uniquely experience harm. Based on the civil society accounts, the study findings from post-conflict societies emphasize that transitional justice needs to be seen in the context of legal processes and women’s ‘‘voice” in shaping policy and law-making through their societal position and the extent to which they are included in the representative structures of the state. Moreover, the TM calls for wholesale reform in the context of peace-building and state reconstruction through the engendering of “transitional justice” across four Transformational Domains (actors, issues, rules, and structures) in order to secure future gender equality in public policy and law-making in war-affected countries.
Chaney, P. (2016) Civil Society and Gender Mainstreaming: Empirical Evidence and Theory-Building from Twelve Post-Conflict Countries 2005–15, World Development, Volume 83, July 2016, Pages 280–294 can be downloaded here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X16000085
World Development is a multi-disciplinary monthly journal of development studies published by Elsevier. It seeks to explore ways of improving standards of living, and the human condition generally, by examining potential solutions to problems such as: poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, disease, lack of shelter, environmental degradation, inadequate scientific and technological resources, trade and payments imbalances, international debt, gender and ethnic discrimination, militarism and civil conflict, and lack of popular participation in economic and political life. ISSN: 0305-750X. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0305750X