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Defying Victimhood

Women and Post-conflict Peacebuilding

image of Defying Victimhood
Women are among the most competent, yet marginalized, unnoticed and underutilized actors in efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. Opportunities for sustainable peacebuilding are lost — and sustainable peace is at risk — when significant stakeholders in a society’s future peace and conflict architecture are excluded from efforts to heal the wounds of war and build a new society and a new state. The contributors to this book draw on comparative case and country studies from post-conflict contexts in different parts of world to offer their insights into frameworks for understanding women as both victims and peacebuilders, to trace the road that women take from victimhood to empowerment and to highlight the essential partnerships between women and children and how they contribute to peace. The authors examine the roles of women in political and security institutions.

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Women and children in the post-Cold War Balkans: Concerns and responses

The wars that accompanied the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia caused a plethora of traumatic and long-lasting economic, social, physical and psychological disruptions for its citizens and often those of neighbouring societies. Although the physical damage may become less visible with the passage of time, the psychological, mental and societal wounds are much harder to heal. While no segment of society or age group escaped the trauma, women and children are the most severely affected. Yet the two groups are not affected the same way: as Nadine Puechguirbal asserts, if we are to “have a better picture of the social and political flux within societies”, we need to “change language and talk about gender perspectives instead of using fossilized categories like women-andchildren”. During the wars and their aftermath the burden of caring for children and the elderly rested increasingly on the shoulders of women. Decreasing budgets and reduced government spending on social needs compound the problem. These tasks and responsibilities rarely disappear with the end of the fighting, and in some cases can even intensify. Displacement, rape, unwanted pregnancies and other forms of violence during these wars are compounded by psychological trauma, community and spousal rejection, economic hardships, prostitution and discrimination that follow the termination of the fighting. Chris Corrin speaks for many when she describes the Kosovo situation: “women tend to make up the majority of targeted civilian casualties of war but are not just victims of war, as their contributions and commitment to peace and reconstruction testify”.

English

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