Key resources: Working on gender equality in fragile contexts

Understanding fragility
Gender issues in fragile contexts
Strengthening the state
Transforming gender norms

Understanding fragility

Fragile States – Topic Guide (2016) Claire McLouglin with Iffat Idris, Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham, FragileStates.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 67 pp.

This up-to-the-minute resource is a comprehensive survey of recommended texts relating to fragile states and contexts. A précis of each text is provided, together with a link to the document online. Texts are organised thematically, with an introduction to each theme provided. Themes are as follows: Understanding fragile states (including a section on definitions and typologies of fragile states); Causes and characteristics of fragility; Measuring and assessing fragility; Aid effectiveness in fragile contexts; state-building in fragile contexts; Service delivery in fragile contexts, with a final section on the UK’s Department for International Development’s guidance on working effectively in fragile states. There is very little included here that offers any gender analysis, but see below for the GSDRC resource guide to Gender in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments.

States of Fragility 2015: Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions (2015) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris: OECD, (last accessed 31 October 2016), 124 pp.

Each year, the OECD (an inter-governmental organisation that focuses on economic development, including the provision of development aid, and made up of 35 member states including many of the world’s major economies) publishes a highly influential report on fragility. From 2015 on, the series, previously entitled Fragile States, was renamed States of Fragility. For the OECD, this better reflects an evolving understanding of fragility as being of ‘universal character, that can affect all countries, not only those traditionally considered “fragile” or conflict-affected’. To this end, the report sets out a framework for assessing fragility, using three indicators related to targets of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16 being ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies and sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions for all’) and two from the wider SDG framework: violence, access to justice, accountable and inclusive institutions, economic inclusion and stability, and capacities to prevent and adapt to social, economic, and environmental shocks and disasters. These indicators are then applied to all countries worldwide, and the 50 most vulnerable in all five dimensions identified. The report finds that the group of countries most challenged on all five fronts is much the same as the traditional list of fragile states and economies. However, several middle-income countries with disproportionately high levels of crime-related violence, internal conflict or poor access to justice do now appear. States of Fragility 2016 will be published in November 2016. For an overview, see States of Fragility 2016.pdf (last accessed 31 October 2016).

The Fragile Consensus on Fragility. EUI Working Papers (2010) Simone Bertoli and Elisa Ticci, Florence: Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, 2010_16.pdf?sequence=2 (last accessed 1 August 2016), 20 pp.

This paper from 2010 is helpful for its discussion of how the concept of fragility made its way into development discourse and donor policy, and examines the weaknesses and ambiguities in the terminology, and the implications for implementing policy on the ground. In the paper’s concluding remarks, the authors stress the importance for the legitimacy of state institutions of meeting of the basic needs of a population, the need for external actors to have real knowledge of the political context in which they are engaging, and an awareness of the inherently political character of any intervention they undertake; failure in these areas possibly rendering any intervention ineffective, or even counterproductive.

Report on Development, Fragility, and Human Rights (2012) Pilar Domingo, Lene Brandt, Lisa Denney, Marta Foresti, Siri Gloppen, Tam O’Neil, Alina Rocha Menocal, and Leni Wild, London: Overseas Development Institute, commissioned by the Nordic Trust Fund and The World Bank, publications-opinion-files/7772.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 60 pp.

Providing a helpful outline of the characteristics of fragile and conflict-affected situations and states (see pp. ix and 7–8), this report examines a human rights-based approach to working on development and state-building in fragile and conflict-affected states, aiming to inform development actors on the merits and challenges, and to provide practical guidance. Emphasising the importance of a context-specific approach, the report explores five thematic areas: legacies of violence and transitional justice; violence and conflict, and security-sector policy responses; rule of law and justice-sector reform; social exclusion, constitutional reform, and legal empowerment; and service delivery and infrastructure interventions. While there are some references to women and women’s rights, particularly in relation to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women, the report does not apply a specific gender lens. However, its thematic areas provide a valuable reference point for any gender-focused analysis of fragility.

Fragile States. CRISE Working Paper No. 51 (2009) Frances Stewart and Graham Brown, Oxford: Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, (last accessed 29 July 2016), 117 pp.

With a strong focus on a human rights approach, this paper aims to make the concept of fragile states in the words of the authors, ‘operational for development policy’. The authors put forward a three-pronged definition of fragile states, with states being fragile because of a lack of authority, a failure to provide services, or because they lack legitimacy. The relationship between state fragility and human rights, identity-based inequalities, referred to in the paper as ‘horizontal’ (ethnicity or caste, for example), and social exclusion (often associated with horizontal inequalities) is then explored. The paper goes on to apply this analytical model to six case study countries: Indonesia, Nepal, Guatemala, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Sudan, assessing the level of fragility of each state in the light of the interplay of factors outlined above. As with the Overseas Development Institute paper above, there is no specific gender perspective applied.

Gender issues in fragile contexts

Does Gender Matter in Fragile States? DIIS Policy Brief (2008) Julie Koch, Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies, Koch_2008_10_Does_Gender_Matter.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 4 pp.

This short briefing paper argues that gender relations are affected in fragile contexts primarily in three areas: health and education; employment and income; and violence. The paper outlines the different ways women and men are affected, and highlights the importance of resisting the stereotype of women as purely victims and men as purely perpetrators of violence in any consideration of gender and fragility.

Gender in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments (2015) Ann Kangas, Huma Haider, Erika Fraser, and Evie Brown, Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham, (last accessed 1 August 2016)

Part of GSDRC’s topic guide to Gender, this is a key resource, providing summaries of articles and books relating to the subject of gender and fragility. After an introduction to the subject as a whole, recommended texts are divided under the following headings, each section beginning with an introductory overview: International engagement in fragile and conflict-affected environments; Gender and violent conflict; Gendered impact of violent conflict; Humanitarian interventions; and Peacekeeping and peace support operations.

Literature Review on Gender and Fragility (2009) Wendy Harcourt, European Report on Development, European Commission Directorate-General for Development, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 38 pp.

Written in 2009, this literature review found that ‘the general debate on state fragility does not take into account the gender dimension, even though most of the “characteristics” mentioned in th[e] literature, have important dimensions’, something which still holds true in 2016. While for the author there was very little directly addressing the link between gender (in) equality and fragility or gender equality and fragility, interesting literature did exist on gender and different elements of fragility. Section One of the review surveys literature on gender and development, in which the author argues work on gender and fragility is embedded. Section Two looks at two key areas informing discussion on gender and fragility: citizenship and governance; and peace, security, and conflict. Section Three surveys policy documents on gender and fragility, with a final section on gender and fragility in Africa, which outlines some bestpractice case studies from donor agencies and civil society organisations.


CLARA: Designing Safer Livelihoods Programs in Iraq (2015) Tenzin Manell and Stephanie Roberson, New York and Oxford: Women’s Refugee Commission and Oxfam, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 102 pp.

This report describes the piloting of the Cohort Livelihoods and Risk Analysis (CLARA), designed by the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), and trialled by WRC and Oxfam in two areas of Iraq that are home to communities of permanent residents, returnees, and internally displaced people (IDP). Livelihoods for all have been affected by the impact of conflict and continuing insecurity, with IDP households particularly vulnerable, having fled their homes and livelihoods, taking few assets with them. The CLARA pilot programme combined gender, livelihoods, and protection/gender-based violence mitigation work in a fragile setting, aiming to ensure that any income-generating activities for women did not increase their risks of experiencing gender-based violence, in a context of social conservatism, limitations on women’s physical mobility, and suspicion of strangers. The report’s annexes provide a detailed methodology, and a CLARA toolkit, including Focus Group questions in English and Arabic.

Employment Promotion in Contexts of Conflict, Fragility and Violence: Opportunities and Challenges for Peacebuilding (2015) Anne Hoffman, Bonn: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 4tDx9kw63gma/giz2015-0712en-employment-conflict-fragility-violence.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 72 pp.

Aimed at a donor institution readership, this paper looks at the peace-building potential of employment promotion in overcoming fragility and conflict, on the one hand (working on conflict, fragility, and violence), and the challenges for employment promotion in fragile and conflict-affected settings, on the other (working in conflict, fragility, and violence). The paper first outlines the importance attached by international development actors to the generation of employment in fragile contexts, citing Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goal (PSG) Five ‘Economic Foundations: Generate employment and improve livelihoods’, and the general international consensus (despite a lack of concrete evidence) that social cohesion, stability, and peace are more likely to endure if sustainable economic opportunities are created for a large proportion of the population. (The PSGs are part of the 2011 New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States agreed between donor states and self-proclaimed fragile countries.) The paper discusses employment promotion (including innovative approaches and findings for development co-operation) in contexts of, for example, weak state legitimacy, extreme economic and social disparities, youth unemployment and conflict dynamics, weak physical infrastructure, and war-affected populations. Given that the paper urges a ‘do no harm’ approach throughout, it is perhaps somewhat surprising that no explicit mention is made of the risks of gender-based violence that women and girls may face as a result of employment promotion projects in contexts where social norms have been or are being challenged through shifts in gender roles, especially as the paper states that ‘it is assumed that a targeted employment promotion for women can contribute to economic and societal stability’. The paper ends with key recommendations for employment promotion project design and programming.

The Impact of Conflict and Fragility on Households: A Conceptual Framework with Reference to Widows (2008) Tilman Brück and Kati Schindler, Helsinki: United Nations University-WIDER, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 20 pp.

In this academic paper, the authors’ argue for the importance of examining the effects of conflict and fragility at the household level, and propose three key questions for analysis: How does violent conflict and fragility affect the structure of the household? What are the coping strategies of conflict-affected households? And, how do groups of households cope with conflict? The authors outline the impact of conflict and fragility on each of these areas, with a particular focus on the challenges faced by households that include or are headed by widows.


Report of the UN Secretary-General on Conflict-related Sexual Violence (2016){65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3- CF6E4FF96FF9}/s_2016_361.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 34 pp.

As this report states, in 2013 the United Nations (UN) Security Council requested an annual report from the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1820, 1888, and 1960, all of which relate to combating sexual violence in conflict-affected settings. The UN Secretary General’s reports collate cases of sexual violence in conflict documented by the UN, which have taken place, in the case of the 2016 report, in 19 countries, with the majority of perpetrators being made up of non-state actors. The 2016 report incorporates discussion of the use of sexual violence by terrorist and extremist groups, following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2242 in 2015, which recognised sexual violence as both a tactic of war and of terrorism, and the changing global context of peace and security, particularly the gender dimensions of violent extremism and mass displacement of people. The 2016 report also discusses sexual violence in the post-conflict settings of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Côte d’Ivoire, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and expresses concern over instances of sexual violence during political unrest in Burundi and the activities of the extremist group Boko Haram, in Nigeria.

Gender and Conflict Analysis, Second Edition (2012) Anne-Marie Goetz and Anne-Kristin Treiber, New York: UN Women, Headquarters/Media/Publications/en/04AGenderandConflictAnalysis.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 6 pp.

This component part of the excellent UN Women Sourcebook on Women, Peace and Security (, last accessed 1 August 2016), outlines basic elements of gendersensitive conflict analysis and findings from three UN pilot projects in three locations characterised by civil conflict, internal displacement, and ethnic and community tensions, creating conditions associated with fragile contexts: the Ferghana Valley, Colombia, and the Solomon Islands (with the Solomon Islands’ project being discussed in more detail in the article by Annalise Moser, below). Emphasising the importance of specific contexts, discussion includes the gender dimensions of structural causes of conflict and fragility; the different factors associated with conflict as identified by women and by men; and the importance of gender-based violence/violence against women and girls as a key indicator of conflict, serving as an indicator of changes in perceived generalised violence, and possibly as an indicator of an actual increase in violence not yet visible in the public sphere. Also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish.

‘The peace and conflict gender analysis: UNIFEM’s research in the Solomon Islands (2007) Annalise Moser, Gender & Development 15(2): 231–9, http:// (last accessed 1 August 2016)

In this paper, the author discusses a pilot project – the Peace and Conflict Gender Analysis (PCGA) – used by UNIFEM (now UN Women) in the Solomon Islands to investigate women’s and men’s experiences of armed conflict and peace-building. The methodology of the analysis is outlined, and principle gender-related findings explored. These include evidence that challenges the women-as-victims, men-as-combatants stereotypes, and the importance to women (much more than to men) of women’s increased economic productive roles. Post conflict, the influence of traditional gender roles and status was apparent, with men ‘reassuming’ the traditional male role of breadwinner, and women who had taken on more economically productive activity as a consequence of conflict, experiencing this as transformational. Gender-related tensions were see to be exacerbated in the postconflict context, with changes to gender roles (and the blaming of women for ‘fuelling the conflict by their gossip’, by some men) contributing to tension within communities. For the author, the kind of information elicited by the PCGA is critical for the planning of post-conflict recovery and peace-building programmes, capturing the kind of information that can be fed into policy planning processes, particularly where they can provide a potential opportunity for women to build on their achievements.

‘When does the end begin?’ Addressing gender-based violence in post-conflict societies: case studies from Zimbabwe and El Salvador (2013) Alivelu Ramisetty and Muthoni Muriu, Gender & Development 21(3): 489–504, (last accessed 1 August 2016)

This article relates the experiences of Oxfam America and partner organisations in addressing violence against women and girls in the post-conflict societies of Zimbabwe and El Salvador. In these countries, distinct periods of conflict and instability led to nominal peace, but no recognisable reduction or improvement in the status of women, and women continued to experience high levels of gender-based violence after the cessation of conflict. The article clearly outlines the country contexts, and the strategies and partnerships used in campaigns, including the use of community outreach, mass mobilisation, and legislative lobbying, to achieve a positive shift in national policies and practices to prevent gender-based violence in each country.

Gender Analysis of Conflict: A Toolkit (2016) Charlotte Watson, Hannah Wright, and Hester Groenewald, London: Saferworld, view-resource/1076-gender-analysis-of-conflict (last accessed 29 July 2016)

Designed for use by non-government organisations and other peace-building practitioners, this toolkit seeks to integrate gender perspectives into conflict analysis, placing a particular emphasis on gender norms around masculinity and femininity, and how these can propel conflict, or alternatively, become resources for peace. The toolkit provides guidance on carrying out participatory analysis in conflict-affected communities, how to use the findings to adapt existing initiatives or design new peace-building programmes, and ends with sections specifically focusing on gendered analysis in the context of conflicts over land, and extractive industries.

Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview. Policy Research Working Paper No. 6371 (2013) Mayra Buvinic, Monica Das Gupta, Ursula Casabonne, and Philip Verwimp, wps6371.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 37 pp.

Seeking to move the debate on the gendered impacts of conflict on from what the authors regard as having been an almost exclusive focus on sexual and gender-based violence, this paper argues for a much wider consideration of factors, in order to develop evidence-based conflict prevention and post-conflict policy that genuinely reflect the differing, gendered effects of conflict. The authors propose a framework that identifies both the differential impacts of violent conflict on women and men (‘first-round impacts’) and the role of gender inequality in responses to conflict (‘second-round impacts’). First-round impacts of violent conflict include: high levels of male deaths (which results in widowhood); sexual and gender-based violence; loss of assets and income; and forced displacement and migration, primarily of women and children. These first-round impacts trigger coping strategies that can be characterised as second-round impacts, in areas such as marriage and fertility rates, the distribution of labour between men and women, political participation, and investments in children’s health and schooling. These impacts are more mixed and can increase or decrease pre-existing gender inequalities.

Strengthening the state

Building a State that Works for Women: Integrating Gender into Post-conflict State Building. FRIDE Working Paper No. 107 (2011) Clare Castillejo, Madrid: FRIDE, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 27 pp.

Arguing that ‘support for statebuilding has become the dominant model for international donor engagement in post-conflict and fragile contexts’, this paper discusses findings from a research project investigating the impact of state-building on women’s citizenship in five post-conflict countries – Burundi, Guatemala, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. The paper examines three separate areas: women’s participation in the politics of state-building, including barriers to this participation; the building of state structures (which includes legal reform, justice-sector reform, security-sector reform, and gender-equality institutions); and support for women’s agency and mobilisation. Lessons for donors drawn from the experiences in the five countries in each of these areas are discussed, and in the paper’s conclusion, overall findings are outlined. These include the fact that political and traditional elites are often fiercely resistant to improvements in women’s rights and participation, and that gender initiatives supported by donors tend to be discrete, technical gender projects, with gender inequality not included in broader political considerations regarding power relations and resource distribution.

Gender and Statebuilding in Fragile and Conflict-affected States (2013) Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris: OECD Publishing, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 92 pp.

Aimed at donor institutions, this paper from the OECD asserts that state-building theory and practice currently neglect the importance of gender relations, with even the key OECD Development Assistance Committee policy document, Supporting Statebuilding in Situations of Conflict and Fragility (2011) failing to offer guidance on integrating a gender perspective or promoting gender equality in state-building. This paper seeks to address this failure and provide a guide to gender-sensitive state-building. It first sets out the rationale for the integration of a gender perspective – arguing that ‘the fundamental aim of statebuilding should be a state that is legitimate, responsive and accountable to all its citizens, and tackling the exclusion and marginalisation of women and girls is a key requirement for realising this overall goal’. The paper goes on to consider challenges and limitations, including the need to manage tensions between the short-term goal of stability and longer-term goals of inclusion and gender equality, and those linked to donor agencies themselves. Among these are the marginalisation of gender-related programming and indeed gender advisers within donor institutions, limited resources and accountability for the integration of gender, and the lack of political will at a high level in donor institutions. Further chapters discuss strategies, key ingredients, and recommendations. An annex to the paper provides practical examples of donor-funded initiatives to integrate gender issues in the areas of politics, security, justice, economic empowerment, and access to services.

Strengthening Women’s Citizenship in the Context of State Building: The Experience of Sierra Leone (2008) Clare Castillejo, Madrid: FRIDE, WP_Women_Citizenship_ENG_aug08.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 16 pp.

Defining citizenship as ‘access to rights and participation in governance’, this paper from 2008 looks at the opportunities offered for bolstering women’s citizenship and increasing their influence over decision-making structures in state-building processes following the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone in 2002. The paper argues that efforts to strengthen formal, democratic state institutions, the policy of decentralisation of government, and the extension of state responsibility to regulation of areas previously overseen by maledominated customary, traditional forms of authority (such as land, justice, and family rights), which are often discriminatory towards women, opens up possibilities formerly denied to women to enjoy rights and engage in political participation. However, as the paper discusses, many challenges exist. These include – given limited capacity, corruption, and lack of political commitment – the inability of the state to deliver to women new rights and opportunities for participation. This results in the construction a formal state that lies ‘on top’ of unreformed customary governance structures that continue to determine women’s daily lives. Recommendations for donors include providing institutional support to women’s civil society organisations at both national and local level, to foster a strong women’s movement that can represent the interests of women across the country.

‘What are the opportunities to promote gender equity and equality in conflictaffected and fragile states? Insights from a review of evidence’ (2011) Helen O’Connell, Gender & Development 19(3): 455–66, publications/what-are-the-opportunities-to-promote-gender-equity-and-equalityin-conflict-af-196919 (last accessed 29 July 2016)

Based on a study that reviewed evidence on strengthening gender equality in the context of state-building in conflict-affected and fragile states, this article discusses women’s political and economic empowerment, and women’s and girls’ access to quality services. It finds that there was some success with regard to women’s participation in elections and formal politics, but this was accompanied by problems of negative cultural attitudes, male and elite-dominated political systems, the threat of violence, and lack of support for capacity building for newly elected women. There was also some success in the case of small-scale economic enterprise, but here, women’s assumption of new economic roles has not seemed to change men’s gender roles or gender relations. The article concludes that international donors’ and external actors’ policy commitments to gender equality in statebuilding programmes does not translate into effective change on the ground, with unequal gender power relations in the household and in wider society remaining largely untouched. Donors need to implement programmes in which a gender analysis has been fully integrated, and they and national partners must set ambitious and wellresourced gender-equality targets. Also, the paper argues that the role of local and national women’s organisations must be reassessed, so that they are viewed as change makers, rather than as simply implementers.

Governance and Fragility: What We Know About Effective Governance Programming in Fragile Contexts (2013) Louie Fooks, Oxford: Oxfam GB, http://policy-practice. (last accessed 1 August 2016), 8 pp.

Reflecting experience from programmes designed to strengthen civil society and civil society organisations in Afghanistan, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, South Sudan, and Yemen, this short paper outlines a variety of approaches to governance programming. Most interestingly for readers of this issue of Gender & Development is the section on ‘Gender as a driver of conflict and fragility’, which argues that not only are women and men differently affected by conflict and fragility, but that gender inequality can act as a driver of fragility in itself. The paper cites the examples of South Sudan, where high bride price fuels cattle raiding and conflict between tribal groups, and Afghanistan, where women may be ‘given’ or ‘taken’ to settle community disputes and conflicts.

Service Delivery in Fragile Situations: Key Concepts, Findings and Lessons (2008) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris: OECD, (last accessed 31 October 2016), 55 pp.

Emphasising the mutually reinforcing tendencies of poor essential services and state fragility, this paper is aimed at donor institutions. It offers guidance on how best to support delivery of services to populations in fragile contexts, and is informed by the OECD’s focus on four key service sectors in fragile states: justice and security; health care; education; and water and sanitation. These represent the core functions of a strong state, and are of primary importance in the everyday lives of most people. The paper discusses key concepts, including how fragility affects service delivery outcomes; approaches to take, and attendant challenges and dilemmas when deciding how best to aid service delivery (e.g. partnering with the public sector or choosing alternative delivery models, such as the private sector or international non-government organisations); and policy implications, such as the need to balance short-term and longer-term considerations in the context of governance and state-building, and how to manage transition and hand-back of essential services so that they become primary government responsibilities. The paper applies no overall gender perspective, but does mention the fact that service delivery can play an important role in improving women’s wellbeing and economic opportunities, and that women and women’s organisations have a major role to play in maintaining services, supporting social cohesion and negotiating safe space between communities in conflict.

‘Service delivery in fragile contexts’, Section 6 in the GSDRC Fragile States – Topic Guide (2016) (last accessed 1 August 2016), 11 pp.

This section from the GSDRC Fragile States – Topic Guide (for more on which see the Understanding Fragility section, above) focuses specifically on delivery of basic services in fragile contexts. The introduction asserts that failure to deliver basic services including health, education, and justice is widely understood as both a cause and a characteristic of fragility, and contributes to a lack of state legitimacy and resilience, with donors increasingly thinking in terms of how the delivery of services can address root causes of fragility. The rest of the section provides summaries of (and online links to) articles, reports, and case studies, plus introductory outlines on the following themes: service delivery models; security and justice; health; education; water and sanitation; the role of services in state-building; addressing social exclusion through service delivery; and non-state service providers in fragile states. There is little or nothing included that takes an explicitly gendered perspective on any of the themes.


Gender, Statebuilding and Peacebuilding (2015) GSDRC Applied Knowledge Services, (last accessed 1 August 2016)

As with the GSDRC collections, Gender in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments and Fragile States (see above), this is an extremely useful set of summaries of resources – reports, journal articles, and books – on the theme of gender, state-building, and peacebuilding in fragile contexts. The summaries are divided into the following areas, each with an introductory overview: Introduction; Development and reconstruction interventions; Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and security sector reform; and Transitional justice.

Women and Peace Agreements Database (PA-X Women) www.politicalsettlements. org/research/pax-women/

An output of the Political Settlements Research Programme (www.politicalsettlements. org/) and a component part of a larger peace agreements database due to be launched in 2017, this database lists all the peace agreements between 1990 and the present day which have provisions on women, gender, or sexual violence, and provides search features for what those provisions deal with. See also the Political Settlements Research Programme Gender page,, which provides resources listed under the following project headings: Conceptualising Gender and Political Settlements, Women’s Activism, Women’s Success, and Gender and Violence.

From the Ground Up: Women’s Roles in Local Peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sierra Leone (2012) Ivan Cardona, Patricia Justino, Becky Mitchell, and Catherine Müller, Johannesburg, Brighton, and London: ActionAid, Institute of Development Studies, Womankind Worldwide, www. (last accessed 1 August 2016), 72 pp.

This report is based on research on women’s peace-building in five fragile or conflictaffected countries, providing evidence of women’s participation in local peace-building efforts. The report outlines the research methodology, the country contexts, and findings. It argues that, for women, peace has a broader meaning than for men, and includes the household level and individual rights to adequate livelihoods, access to education and health care, and freedom from domestic violence. This is in contrast to the more limited conception of peace as understood by the majority of men in the study, which is associated with the absence of formal conflict and the stability of formal structures such as governance and infrastructure. Women’s key roles in local peacekeeping were recognised by all, beginning with their education of children, mediation in family disputes, and the dissuasion of male relatives from engaging in violence. A key feature highlighted by the research across all locations was the coming together of women to pursue their objectives – for example, settling disputes, addressing unjust treatment, promoting women’s involvement in decision-making, and seeking justice for female survivors of violence and sexual abuse – such collective action being particularly important in contexts of strong patriarchal cultures and restrictive norms regarding women’s roles, and the ever-present risk of violence. Another key finding common to all countries was the disconnect between local peace-making processes and those at national level, with little or no opportunities for those working for peace on the ground in their communities to engage with decisionmakers at national level. The report ends with a set of recommendations that address the continuing barriers to women’s participation in peace-building and seek to build on the successes they have already achieved.

‘Gender, conflict and peace building: how conflict can catalyse positive change for women’ (2013) Julie Arostegui, Gender & Development 21(3): 433–53, http:// (last accessed 1 August 2016)

This article, focusing on the African Great Lakes Region and specifically, Rwanda and Uganda, looks at the ways in which recent conflict and post-conflict periods have provided women with new platforms and opportunities to bring about change, citing regional human rights frameworks as successful examples of women’s lobbying, and specific examples of positive change in Rwanda and Uganda, brought about by several factors common to both contexts: the participation of Rwandan and Ugandan women in international and national women’s movements; shifting gender roles during and after conflict; political will, with government needing to win the support of women; and national and local women’s organisations taking advantage of this new political space to make sure women’s concerns were reflected in institution-building.

A Window of Opportunity: Making Transitional Justice Work for Women (2012) Nahla Valji, New York: UN Women,
(last accessed 1 August), 28 pp.

Another component part of the UN Women Sourcebook on Women, Peace and Security (, last accessed 1 August 2016) outlines guidance on making transitional justice – which has become a central plank in post-conflict peace-building – gender sensitive, and that women have access to justice through transitional justice processes. The chapter covers broadening the understanding of transitional justice to include the different experiences and impacts of conflict on both men and women; core elements of gender-sensitive transitional justice; and transitional justice mechanisms, including prosecutions, truth seeking, and reparations – both material (e.g. financial compensation) and symbolic (public acknowledgement and apologies). Also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish.

From Rejection to Redress: Overcoming Legacies of Conflict-related Sexual Violence in Northern Uganda (2015) Virginie Ladisch, Kampala: International Center for Transitional Justice – Kampala Office, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 48 pp.

Demonstrating the kind of long-lasting but often unacknowledged damage to societies resulting from conflict, this paper focuses specifically on the impact of the lack of accountability for sexual crimes which lead to motherhood for girls and women during the conflicts in northern Uganda, and on the children they gave birth to as a result of sexual violence. For the most part, these mothers and children have been unable to access the limited government support for war-affected citizens, and some ten years after the initial violation the lack of redress is compounded by other factors, such as discriminatory cultural norms for women who have children out of wedlock, poverty, and stigma and rejection due to perceived association with rebels, all of which prevent integration for the women and their children into the community.

‘Transforming reparations for conflict-related sexual violence: principles and practice’ (2015) Fionnuala N’i Aol’ain, Catherine O’Rourke, and Aisling Swaine, Harvard Human Rights Journal 28(1): 97–146, uploads/2009/09/transforming-reparations-for-conflict-related-sexual-violenceprinciples-and-practice.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016)

This academic article provides a comprehensive overview of reparations as they relate to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) at the present time. The authors survey the current state of international legal frameworks that address reparations for CRSV, and map out existing initiatives, with evidence from a range of countries, including Columbia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, and Sierra Leone, all of which are contexts in which people have experienced years of low-intensity conflict, civil war, unrest, and fragility, with efforts now being made to ensure lasting peace, and to rebuild the social, political, and economic fabric of society. The article concludes with a set of ten practice-based principles for ‘transformative’ reparations, which address ‘the immediate physical, emotional, economic, and social harms for women and men’, but that also tackle ‘the structural discriminations that enable sexual violence to take place’, and that ‘provide a bridge to transformative social, political, and economic outcomes for women and men who have been targeted, marginalised, and stigmatised by sex-based harms’.

United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1960, 1820, 1960, 2106, 2122, 2242, and 2272, accessed 31 October 2016)

Beginning in 2000, with the adoption of the groundbreaking United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 – which stresses the importance of women’s equal participation in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, and calls on parties involved in armed conflict to protect women and girls from sexual violence – the UN Security Council has adopted a series of resolutions relating to women and peace-building, peacekeeping, and sexual violence in conflict. These resolutions are part of what is known as the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. UN Security Council Resolution 2106, adopted in 2013, mentions for the first time in a UN Security Council Resolution on women, peace and security, male survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The most recent Resolution, UNSCR 2272, was adopted in March 2016, and addresses sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations.

Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2015) Radhika Coomaraswamy, New York: UN Women, media/files/un women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016), 420 pp.

Commissioned by the United Nations and published in 2015, this report assesses the impact UN Security Council Resolution 1325 has had over the 15 years since its adoption in 2000. The report finds that though there have been some successes in implementation over the last 15 years (outlined on pp. 13–14), these can be characterised as ‘“firsts”, rather than standard practice’, and that obstacles and challenges still remain. These (summarised on pp. 14–17) include the continuing lack of participation by women in formal peace processes and peacekeeping forces; continuing impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence; the lack of National Action Plans for implementation in many countries (and often, where plans exist, an absence of accountability mechanisms and budgets for genuine implementation); and a lack of financial resourcing; ‘funding for programmes and processes remains abysmally low across all areas of the agenda’, according to the report. The report ends with a series of recommendations to address these shortcomings.

Women, Peace and Security: Keeping the Promise How to Revitalise the Agenda 15 Years After UNSCR 1325 (2015) Shaheen Chugtai, Oxford: Oxfam International, (last accessed 1 August 2016), 24 pp.

Published prior to last year’s 15-year United Nations (UN) review of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, this paper outlines the key gaps in implementation. Echoing the findings of the UN Women report (see above), it calls for a renewed focus on women’s participation, on monitoring implementation and financing of the WPS Agenda, and on preventing conflict and gender-based violence. In the case of gender-based violence, the paper calls specifically for more attention and resources to address underlying causes of gender-based violence and gender inequality, more effective implementation of Article 7(4) of the Arms Trade Treaty on risks to women, increased support for the recruitment, retention, and capacity of women in security services, and tackling impunity by consistently and visibly holding to account all perpetrators of gender-based violence – including UN and other international security personnel.

Transforming gender norms

Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-conflict: Engaging Men and Boys. MenEngage– UNFPA Advocacy Brief (2012) Michael Kaufman, Washington, DC and New York: MenEngage Alliance/United Nations Population Fund, (last accessed 3 August 2016), 16 pp.

Clearly written and concise, this briefing paper provides an excellent overview of three key areas from a masculinities perspective: sexual violence in both conflict and peacetime contexts (making clear that sexual violence is not created by conflict, but exists as a result of social norms that sanction dominance of men over women); the varied roles of men and boys as both perpetrators and survivors of sexual violence, and as witnesses, peacekeepers, police and soldiers, service providers, and change makers in conflict and post-conflict settings; and proposals for policies and programmes involving men to help to end sexual violence and promote gender equality, including some potential programming pitfalls to avoid. The paper is also careful to acknowledge that working with men and boys is controversial. Some groups are concerned about resources and attention potentially being taken away from women and girls as survivors of sexual violence. Others worry over the consequences of ignoring or denying the victimisation of men and boys in conflict settings.

‘War and security, women and gender: an overview of the issues’ (2013) Cynthia Cockburn, Gender & Development 21(3): 433–52, uk/publications/war-and-security-women-and-gender-an-overview-of-the-issues- 305231 (last accessed 3 August 2016)

In this excellent article, clearly and accessibly written, the eminent feminist scholar Cynthia Cockburn provides a gendered analysis of war, revealing the significance of men and masculinity in processes of militarisation, and the fundamental role gender plays in three phases of the continuum of war (which could, alternatively, be termed the continuum of fragility); war readiness, war waging, and peace-building. In periods of war-readiness, Cynthia Cockburn argues, societies see a diversion of spending from social provision to the armed forces, accompanied by an increase in patriarchal ideology and authority. The actual waging of wars calls for the delivery of extreme but disciplined violence, and combat training shapes masculinity to this purpose. Armed conflict often involves a massive sexual assault on women. In terms of peace-building, she highlights the calls from women for a redefinition of ‘security’ to mean the satisfaction of human needs, including comprehensive safety for women, and the theorising of women’s peace movements that patriarchal gender relations are a root cause of war, and predispose societies to belligerence. In this sense, gender transformational change could be a significant resource for countering fragility and promoting peace.

Masculinities, Conflict and Peacebuilding: Perspectives on Men Through a Gender Lens (2014) Hannah Wright, London: Saferworld, resources/view-resource/862-masculinities-conflict-and-peacebuildingperspectives-on-men-through-a-gender-lens (last accessed 29 July 2016), 55 pp.

This paper is based on a review of existing projects promoting non-violent and genderequitable masculinities. It has three parts. Part I – Why focus on masculinities in peacebuilding? – cogently argues for the inclusion of an analysis of the role of masculinities in gendered approaches to conflict and peace-building, which often, while drawing valid and necessary attention to the experiences of women and girls, stop short of addressing the influence of violent or ‘hyper’ masculinities in fragile, conflict, and post-conflict contexts. Part II – Existing approaches to transforming masculinities – synthesises lessons identified in the review of existing projects. Part III – Adapting existing approaches to address armed conflict – outlines a range of issues to be considered in any future programming on masculinities in peace-building, noting that the newness of this area means there is not enough experience to give evidence-based guidance for programme design at this stage.

Gender, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Violent Masculinities (2013) Irene Specht (pp. 61–90 in IDN Cadernos No. 16, Gender Violence in Armed Conflicts), Lisbon: Instituta da Defesa Nacional, publicacoes/cadernos/idncaderno_11.pdf (last accessed 1 August 2016)

In another first-class paper examining gender and the cycle of conflict, the author, like Cynthia Cockburn in the resource above, examines masculine and feminine identities before, during, and after conflict. She outlines the construction of violent masculinity during periods of conflict; the expansion, in some cases, of women’s freedom with the shift in gender roles (alongside an increased level of violence against women and girls – VAWG); and women’s participation in combat. With a focus on the high levels of VAWG in post-conflict contexts, the author goes on to address gender roles after the cessation of fighting. A combination of factors explain the prevalence of VAWG, such as the loss of the identity of ‘fighter’ for many men; the need to reassert male dominance in the home (where in many cases women have become more independent); the increased tolerance of violence within society, and the fact that many men have been involved in military violence; the increased availability of small arms; and a culture of impunity. She also touches on the problems facing female ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) processes, who often experience stigma in post-conflict societies, for having ‘crossed the line of femininity’. The author ends with a call for more attention to be given to VAWG in the design and implementation of DDR programmes.