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  • Women, Gender Equality, and Post-Conflict Transformation: Lessons Learned, Implications for the Future ed. by Joyce P. Kaufman, and Kristen P. Williams
  • Margaryta Yakovenko
Kaufman, Joyce P., and Kristen P. Williams (Eds.). Women, Gender Equality, and Post-Conflict Transformation: Lessons Learned, Implications for the Future. New York: Routledge 2017. 211 pp. ISBN 9781472468956.

Women, Gender Equality, and Post-Conflict Transformation: Lessons Learned, Implications for the Future provides a thorough theoretical and empirical evaluation of how post-conflict transformation is gendered. It examines several case studies: the peace process in Northern Ireland as well as in Guatemala and El Salvador; disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in Liberia and Sierra Leonne; post-apartheid transformation in South Africa; and post-conflict transformation in Bosnia. The introduction frames the rest of the book by recognizing that UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000), which outlines an international framework to increase the participation of women and integrate gender considerations in all peace and security efforts, is failing at its intended purpose of bringing about real change for women in post-conflict settings, particularly in peace processes and DDR programs. The editors begin by questioning some the tenants of UNSCR 1325. They argue that it over-emphasizes the need to add women to formal male-dominated post-conflict processes, where women's impact may be limited, while ignoring the structural and cultural barriers that prevent women from accessing and successfully participating in post-conflict transformation. By highlighting how post-conflict transformation processes have failed women in the past, the book urges policy makers and practitioners not only to reexamine post-conflict transformation processes using a gender lens, but also to question the "add women and stir" approach as the go-to solution to gender issues in this field.

Part I of the book presents three theoretical chapters that help to frame the case studies presented in part II. In chapter one, Laura Sjoberg argues that in order to truly understand gender dynamics or post-conflict dynamics, one must examine how they are interrelated. When analyzing post-conflict transitions, she argues gender analysis must be used to avoid essentialist gender assumptions and illuminate social or cultural constraints that impact how men and women are treated or the choices are available to them. Understanding of these constraints is crucial for success of post-conflict processes. For example, even when women are included in the formal peace process, their contribution to the final result can be minimal if their male counterparts are not willing [End Page 146] to listen, while their optimal contribution to peace, i.e., local-level peacebuilding, might be ignored (23). As a result, policy makers and practitioners need to question if focusing solely on including women in formal male-dominated peace processes is the most effective way to leverage women's unique contributions, respond to women's post-conflict needs, or to achieve equitable peace.

Similarly, in chapter 2, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin invites policy makers and practitioners to question how gender is integrated into DDR processes. For example, ceasefire requirements for disarmament often do not result in the removal of weapons from the private sphere, where these weapons can be used for intimate partner violence. Ceasefire requirements also do not address the "disarmament of minds" where the focus is on attitudinal change (39). As a result, violence may move from combat fields to the private sphere. This leads us to question the usual international criterion for successful disarmament, i.e., the collection of a large number of guns, because it does not measure the actual impact of disarmament on peace nor does it measure what women would define as "peace."

In chapter 3, Jane Parpart examines various ways that peace is defined or "imagined" by actors in post-conflict settings. Like their male counterparts, women fighters' "imagined peace" is that their contributions to the war effort will be rewarded during peace time. However, unlike their male counterparts, women fighters fail to gain political or military leadership posts after the war. Moreover, the "imagined peace" of many civilians is a return to the prewar gender hierarchies. Women are expected to act "proper" and return to caregiving and child-rearing after the conflict, rather...


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pp. 146-149
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