Peace building needs the involvement of women. Women’s roles in peace building in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Kashmir, and many other places in the last decade highlight the importance of moving women beyond the “humanitarian front of the story.” Women have influenced, and can continue to influence peace-building processes. They go beyond defining peace as the “absence of violent conflict” and focus on the principles of inclusion, good governance, and justice. If a just and enduring peace is to be built, women need to be present to discuss issues such as genocide, impunity, and security.
Drawing on feminist scholarship and the experiences of grassroots women’s organizations, this article argues that genuine peace requires not only the absence of war but also the elimination of unjust social and economic relations, including but not limited to unequal gender relations. A sustainable notion of peace and security would be one that prioritizes the values of “attachment” and “community” – values that have traditionally been excluded from statist conceptions of peace and security. This is not to suggest that “power” and “autonomy” – conventionally seen as masculine values – be replaced by feminine values. The idea is not to replace a masculine discourse with a feminine discourse, but rather to transform the highly gendered contemporary discourse into one that focuses on the values of pluralism, inclusivity, and equity for human beings. The goal should be to transcend the conventional masculine-feminine binary oppositions of war and peace, power and powerlessness, public and private, reason and emotion, and independence and attachment.
Participant of the Online Arab-Israeli Peace Institute for Peace in honor of Nelson Mandela – YaLa Young Leaders