Promoting Women, Peace and Security in the Pacific Islands: Hot Conflict/Slow Violence

  • Citation: Nicole George (2014) Promoting Women, Peace and Security in the Pacific Islands: hot conflict/slow violence, Australian Journal of International Affairs
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • Pacific Island countries
    • peacebuilding
    • gendered regional peace

How has the Women, Peace and Security agenda been advanced in the Pacific Islands? While some observers argue that this region suffers from a contagion of unrest, violence and state weakness, these estimates commonly ignore the vital work women have performed in the region as promoters of peace and security. Even when such activity places them in direct personal danger, women across the region have spearheaded efforts to bridge communal boundaries and challenge the increasing normalisation of violence, gendered and otherwise, that accompanies threatened or actual incidents of conflict. As this article demonstrates, these efforts have had profound impacts on the ground in conflict-affected Pacific Island countries. They have also received increased recognition at the level of institutional politics, with member states of the Pacific Islands Forum recently accepting a Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. This has been hailed as a significant achievement for the region’s women peacebuilders. But much of this plan is focused on women’s contributions to peacebuilding at the pointy end of a crisis. This overlooks the extent to which the ‘slow violence’ of environmental degradation, masculinised politics and militarism also compound gendered insecurity in the region. Attention to these issues offers a contradictory picture of the gains made in promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Pacific Islands. While this advocacy framework has provided important opportunities for the region’s women peacebuilders, it may also have discouraged broader reflection on the prevailing structural conditions at work across the region which function in an attenuated fashion to undermine women’s security and the achievement of a gendered regional peace.

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