April 22, 2011
DESPITE the voluminous literature on war and conflict, both its causes as also the frameworks underlying various peace accords and post-conflict resolution and reconstruction strategies, there appears significant reluctance to factor in women’s specific experiences, as also their orientations, capacities and skills in facilitating a transition towards a more just and durable peace. Not only is it rare to come across women playing a significant role in peace parleys and accord-making, their concerns and suggestions too are usually relegated to the margins. The episodic nod to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security notwithstanding, analysis of peace accords and subsequent processes reveals, globally, that this arena remains a male preserve and little has changed on the ground.
The experience in South Asia, be it Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, India’s insurgency affected North East, to name a few, reveals a disturbing tendency to invisibilize women and their concerns. The situation post communal riots in cities or in the Maoist affected regions of Central India is no different. Everywhere, even as it is recognized that women (and children) are the worst affected, little effort is made at addressing their major concerns – reducing the ever-present threat of sexual violence and rape, generating jobs and income earning opportunities, meeting the needs of health and education, and so on, though it is now well accepted that an enhanced status of women is central to family and community welfare. The result is not only flawed and failed accords – often little more than power sharing arrangements between ‘armed elites’, mostly men – but reflects a deeper failure to address the underlying causes of conflict. To state more sharply, processes which marginalize and invisibilize women cannot become the basis for a durable, just and democratic peace.
…This issue of Seminar brings together experiences and reflections from multiple contexts in an effort to visibilize the role of women and their impact on peace processes.