IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Gender and peace (1)

This is a huge topic (though most of the important topics related to peace are huge); so here I’m just going to introduce some ideas.  First, many (and not all of these are women!) feel this is a key area of peace concern.  The basic argument is simple: women who bring human beings into the world and who work very hard at relationships are probably less predisposed to see their sons, brothers and fathers march off to war.  BTW, I’m not saying this is somehow ordained by biology, or anything like that; rather it is the way many cultures have evolved.  To grossly oversimplify, women have been traditionally more occupied with life (creating and nurturing it on many levels), and men, due to the need to protect their homes and families, have been more occupied with violence (ie being warriors) and, by implication, death.  If there is even a grain of truth in this view, then women should be a force for peace, a force for non violent conflict resolution, etc…  One can graft onto this argument that women are often more sensitive to ecological concerns, and are more inclined to “power with” than “power over”.

One can even argue that the basic concept of the state which has dominated writing about international relations is very obviously masculinist.  States are:  isolated, power seeking and maximizing, resource exploiting, potentially violent and very distrustful of each other as potential rivals.  Sound familiar?

Moving to the more practical, it has been observed that any efforts at long term peace building in post conflict societies that don’t incorporate and address the needs of women would not be as effective as those which do address these needs.  Why?  Because even in the most patriarchal of societies women are what makes day to day life work.

OK..now a “yes, but…”.  There is not much evidence that women political leaders have been any more peace oriented than men (think:  Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, etc…).  That is true, but why?  Because they were the first “arrivals” at the top in systems that were built by men and which reflect patriarchal values.  So, unless the system itself is changed to better reflect both masculine and feminine qualities, the behavior of individual politicians is to a large degree constrained by the role they occupy.

We’ll pick this “tread” up again later, I promise!  In the meantime, here is a link to a few of the thousands of page which have been written on this subject.



November 2, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. A society ran mostly by men, who thorough history advanced only little until recently in the way of giving women more equal rights could meet a fancy and involving change of idea matter, if women could get introduced sooner to positions of power in greater quantities.
    However, what I fear is that around the world, the majority of women decide to stick to being housewives and nursing their children instead of demonstrating for their rights and “fighting” for peace – this is not a constant and determined (or backed up) variable around the different countries.
    If more women would just realize that the modern world gives them opportunity and a different life style, I believe more would seize it.

    Comment by timedeprived | November 2, 2008 | Reply

  2. Good points all…of course, it could also be argued that men should take up the cause, because a society/world more balanced in terms of masculine and feminine qualities is in everybody’s interest.

    Comment by igbarb19 | November 2, 2008 | Reply

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