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.



Forgone opportunities: The marginalization of women’s contributions to post-conflict peacebuilding

Women have the capacity and commitment to make significant contributions to rebuilding war-torn societies; yet because they are all too often marginalized as a “vulnerable group” or “passive victims”, their potential goes unnoticed and underutilized. While no one can argue that they are often on the receiving end of violence and marginalization, they frequently achieve visibility only for their suffering, not for their actual and potential roles as sources, initiators and agents of both conflict and peace. Opportunities for long-term peacebuilding are lost, and sustainable peace and stability are at risk, when a significant proportion of stakeholders in a society’s future peace and conflict architecture – half or more of the population – are marginalized and excluded during efforts to heal the wounds of war and build a new society and state. The exclusion of women also distorts our understanding of men’s experiences of war and peace, as it tends to protect images of hyper-masculinity and gloss over the vulnerability and suffering of less powerful men.


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