Why Gender Still Matters

Sexual Violence and the Need to Confront Militarized Masculinity

Authored by: Eli Mechanic

Categories: Statebuilding, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Political Transitions, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2004
Citation: Mechanic, Eli. Why Gender Still Matters: Sexual Violence and the Need to Confront Militarized Masculinity. Ottawa: Partnership Africa Canada, 2004.

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Executive Summary

This report shows how the war in the DRC has been made far worse because preexisting unequal gender relations were exacerbated by conflict. As the indicators of masculinity became harder to achieve in the chaos of combat, men turned towards entrenched gender norms to restore feelings of control. As more and more men perceived themselves as losing their masculinity, they concluded the only way to re-achieve it was through violence. This “militarized” masculinity and conflict thus become self- perpetuating. This report shows that stopping sexual violence in the DRC requires involving men and provides recommendations on how to do so. While gender relations and sexual violence are particularly bad in the DRC, this does not mean that this problem is at all unique to the Congolese. Ultimately, the lesson is that because the world wide problem of sexual violence is inherently a gender issue, development organizations must devote serious resources to gender aspects of conflict, for both women and men.