Promoting Women, Post-Conflict
During conflict, women are often exposed to unspeakable horrors such as rape and enslavement. Historically, women have frequently been excluded from participating in combat, diminishing their influence in the outcome and aftermath of the war. Policymakers must acknowledge the need to involve women in peace-making processes, while restructuring and reforming traditional peacekeeping initiatives. These initiatives involve “gender-sensitive” techniques, such as creating an atmosphere for social inclusion to reintegrate men, women and children back into the society.
Although women are a vital part of peacekeeping, their contributions are often ignored by peacekeeping agencies, local non-government organizations, international development organizations and security establishments. The result severely damages a country’s societal coherence, especially during peacekeeping and peace-building. Gender sensitivity should be a natural part of rehabilitating women, children, men and elderly back into the community.
A major study conducted by UNHCR revealed key challenges faced by international development agencies during post-conflict periods. Not surprisingly, human rights violations are among the biggest challenges. Women continue to face enormous difficulties in voicing their opinions and participating actively in peace-building initiatives.
Violence against women has been condemned because women are both physically and psychologically exploited in the form of rape or murder. Such acts are systematic and intentional and imply superiority in race, religion, caste or creed. In post-conflict situations, women and children are often exposed to sexual violence as well and are subjected to socioeconomic conditions which rebel factions or guerrilla loyalists exploit. Such acts also occur in refugee camps and refugee protected zones which signal an alert to peacekeeping authorities and refugee experts. Women especially girls are looked upon as “tools for pleasure” and are forced to serve men. Victimized women who experience this threat avoid addressing the problem and are not apt to approach “grievance redressal” mechanisms available in the camp. The concerned authorities and law enforcement agencies ignore these assaults in order to avoid complexities which might adversely affect peace-building initiatives
Agencies like the UN, and other international aid agencies and organizations are initiating reforms but the situation is rampant in the Central African Republic (CAR), Somalia and Chad, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. It’s important to strengthen the grievance-addressable mechanisms and reinforce forensic evidence, through investigation, friendly-guidance and post-trauma and psychological support. Grievance mechanisms need to be strengthened by re-distributing adequate finances. The peace-building process in gender-sensitivity is an effective way to bring stability and security in the region.
Combat-designed peacekeeping initiatives
Peacekeeping models largely focus on fundamental elements like health care, clean drinking water, education, infrastructure etc, rather than on combat structure issues. When a region is going through politico-socio-economic paralysis, security is a sensitive issue for international aid development agencies and national and regional non-government organizations. The annual military expenditure by the security agencies of the UN or member nations, exceeds 10 times that of an investment in children. It is also important to demilitarize rebel factions and reintegrate them into society. The majority of those who survive a conflict and are refugees are women. An act of gender-disparity is also reflected in the distribution of rations and medical aid at camps, where men are given priority over women.
Women and girls are sold into slavery particularly during post-conflict periods in the region. They fall into socioeconomic hardships where they are lured by human traffickers into menial jobs, are subjected to an open market and are abandoned by law enforcement agencies.
It is important to highlight the role of international aid agencies to ensure a gender-sensitive approach for lasting peace and security. Rehabilitation and reintegration programs for men, women and children during post conflict need to be initiated as the bridge between planning and implementation continues to grow. The international agencies must focus on identifying root-causes of conflict rather than on strengthening peacebuilding mechanisms and economic and infrastructure community development initiatives. The policies should be short term to avoid violence. International aid agencies and development organizations should foster peace and security in the region. This objective can only be achieved by active participation of local civil society organizations, non-governmental agencies and women centric initiatives.
The UN Security Council passed resolutions to bridge the conflict on genders sensitive issues. However, there is a wide gap between planning and implementation and inappropriate and irrelevant policies. The agendas and targets remain the same. Finally, policymakers both at the national and international level must work together to bring safety and security to the region.