You Can't Have Women in Peace Without Women in Conflict and Security

  • Citation: Best, Rebecca H., and Kyleanne Hunter. “You Can't Have Women in Peace Without Women in Conflict and Security.” Conference: Southern Political Science Association, January 2017.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • Women combatants
    • disarmament
    • demobilization and reintegration
    • women veterans
    • peace
    • security

Women have been serving as combatants in state militaries and non-state politically violent groups in increasing numbers. Meanwhile, since the end of the Cold War, the social status of women has taken center stage as part of a broader “human security” agenda., and, in general, public opinion about the status of women is optimistic, especially among the younger generation. Yet, despite this trend, in the area of combat, gendered perceptions are not shifting to reflect reality. Both public perception and formal institutional programs deny the reality of women engaging in combat to the detriment of women’s political and economic equality. In this paper, we present a model of cognitive-institutional reinforcement, showing how perceptions of women as peaceful noncombatants led to the creation of institutions and structures that disadvantage women’s social, political and economic equality. Using data from disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs; from veterans’ reintegration programs and services; and from a survey of American women veterans,, we show how this misconception about women’s role in combat has significantly hampered women’s ability to achieve full political and economic equality.