Gender, Conflict, and Peace-building: Lessons from the Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia

Authored by: Maja Korac

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Migration, Nonviolent Resistance, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Yugoslavia
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2006
Citation: Korac, Maja. "Gender, Conflict, and Peace-building: Lessons from the Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia." Women's Studies International Forum 29, no. 5 (2006): 510-520.

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This article explores the importance of gender sensitive analysis of conflict constructed as ethnic strife for conceptualising and developing new and more effective ways of intervening in this type of war. It points out that because most of the physical violence and suffering in these conflicts occur at the community level, they generate massive refugee movements, causing not only physical and material devastation, but also the destruction of social networks and local communities. This critically affects the prospects for refugee return, which is central to any sustainable peace agreement and post-conflict democratic development. In searching for an answer to the question of how to address effectively the issue of reconciliation in such a context, the discussion highlights the centrality of acknowledging gender dimensions and dynamics of this type of war, as a way of uncovering and recognising a reconciliatory potential of women as women organising and activism that often occurs in these conflicts. By focusing specifically on the initiatives of some women’s groups during the war in the former Yugoslavia, which aimed at rebuilding trust and broken social networks at a communal level, the article examines the reasons why women as women often opt for alternative forms of political mobilisation. It argues that this type of activism has an important potential for conflict resolution and should be recognised in a fundamental way in any attempt to build peace in conflict zones.