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Changing Roles for Borno Women

Chineme Okafor’s article takes a closer look at PAGED Initiative’s documentary Uprooted, which follows the changing lives of Borno women following Boko Haram’s attacks on the region. Terrorism has resulted in the killing or displacement of Borno men, resulting in a shift in gender roles in Borno State. Out of necessity, women are now involved in traditionally male-dominated roles, including breadwinning and decision-making for the household. Uprooted’steam hopes the documentary will reaffirm the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in peacebuilding. Read the full article here.

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What Does the New Women, Peace, and Security Index Measure?

Anne Marie Goetz’s article discusses the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index, launched in October by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute. The WPS Index innovatively draws from existing gender equality indices and perception- and attitudinal-based measures in order to rank countries on the following three areas: women’s inclusion, justice, and security. While the WPS Index is the first to include levels of organized violence as a measure of women’s security, it would greatly benefit from additional measures of conflict. Read the full article here.

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Indigenous women and the women, peace and security agenda

This research brief from UN Women dives into the impact of the women, peace, and security agenda on indigenous women by focusing on two themes: justice for conflict related violence and the relationship between natural resources, peacebuilding, and conflict prevention. Indigenous women have sought post-conflict justice through truth commissions, reparations, and criminal justice systems. Additionally, in many countries recovering from conflict, natural resources are a key economic driver, and indigenous women’s access to these resources can have important consequences for peace and justice. After examining the achievements and successes of indigenous women for these issues, the report explores challenges and offers further reading related to each topic. Read the full report here.

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Al-Shabaab: Inside the Ranks of Women Fighters

This article by The East African reflects on data from the study “Violent Extremism in Kenya: Why women are a priority” in order to discuss the factors driving Kenyan women to join the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab, as well as the roles women play in the group. Factors such as high unemployment and poor education drive women to join Al-Shabaab, where they take on predominantly operational or supportive roles, to include recruiting, organizing terrorist acts, and providing food and shelter to male members. Though females are targeted less often than males by security agencies, women’s indirect roles are critical to the functionality of terrorist organizations. Read the full article here.

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Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325

This study examines the execution of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, as well as barriers to and priorities for its future implementation. Since it was passed in 2000, Resolution 1325 has contributed to the creation of additional protections for women in conflict, an increase in peace agreements that specifically reference women, and growth in the number of women in senior leadership at the UN. However, many of the improvements have been insufficient to address both ongoing needs and new threats to women’s rights. Detailed recommendations are provided for numerous issues, and a set of principles are proposed to guide global efforts toward continued implementation of the resolution. The study concludes with a call to view all these efforts through the lens of women in specific conflicts, and for the UN to take the lead in promoting global peace. Read the full article here.

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In Plain Sight: The Neglected Linkage between Brideprice and Violent Conflict 

Brideprice – the money or other gifts provided by a groom and his family to a woman’s family as part of a marriage agreement – is a prevalent cause of instability and violent conflict in some societies. As brideprice rises, some young men are “priced out” of marriage, particularly in places where polygamy and other systemic issues tied to brideprice exist. This incentivizes violence to obtain the requisite resources, with rebel and terror groups exploiting this situation to recruit new members. To demonstrate these principles, the authors dive into two case studies: examining armed groups in South Sudan and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. They conclude that the rise of brideprice and the overall treatment of women are important early indicators of violent conflict. They also demonstrate that governments and civil society groups can intervene to head off instability, citing examples from Saudi Arabia and other nations.  Read the full article here.

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“Women nowadays do anything”: Women’s role in conflict, peace and security in Yemen

This article by Marie-Christine Heinze and Marwa Baabad draws from interview-based research by the Yemen Polling Center, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, and Saferworld to discuss the impact of conflict on women and the roles of women in conflict and peacebuilding in two regions of Yemen—Aden and Ibb. This research identifies common, general concerns in both regions with regard to the impact of conflict on women and families, including deleterious economic impacts, increased isolation of women, health consequences, and increased proliferation of arms. Additionally, women play a significant role in peacebuilding efforts in both areas. While generalities exist, it is important to remember that the relationship between women, conflict and peacebuilding is unique to each locale. As such, local, national and international institutions need to build on all women’s contributions to peacebuilding initiatives—even those that seem insignificant—in order to maximize the efficacy of these efforts. Read the full article here.

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Building Gender Equality in Ukraine

2013 protests against the Ukrainian government brought forth a new social awareness of women’s roles in conflict and peacekeeping initiatives that challenged the country’s historically patriarchal culture. This U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Policy Brief—“Building Gender Equality in Ukraine”—discusses how this shift in views on gender equality impacted the development of Ukraine’s first National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS, as well as the plan’s strengths and challenges. As a result, Ukraine’s national government has adopted international conventions on gender equality and elevated women to powerful governmental positions. Still, several factors—including insufficient data to track the progress of gender equality initiatives, and devolution to local governments that have neither the resources nor the interest in the NAP’s implementation—undermine these national efforts. Recommendations for the U.S. and international community to bolster the implementation of Ukraine’s NAP include funding for data collection on critical gender issues, and development of programs and humanitarian relief efforts that incorporate a gender equality framework. Read the full brief here.

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Stateless Justice in Somalia: Formal and Informal Rule of Law Initiatives

This paper, published by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, assesses how formal and informal justice systems function in the country’s ‘stateless’ society. It discusses the multiple, overlapping and contradictory sources of law noting that they create confusing and contentious dispensation of justice in Somalia.  Harmonization of these systems is necessary and should include public dialogue and confidence building, capacity building, establishment of a stable political environment and a major increase in international technical assistance and funding. Read the full report here.

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Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: Wartime Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War

In wartime, academics and policymakers often assume that women are strictly the victims of violence and never the perpetrators. However, Dara Kay Cohen’s research on female combatants in Sierra Leone’s civil war reveals that women in organized militias actually actively participated in acts of sexual violence. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Sierra Leone either; the study cites war statistics from Liberia, Haiti, Rwanda, and, importantly, Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Female perpetrators’ involvement ranged from encouraging attacks to assaulting both male and female victims themselves. The study notes that women often join paramilitary groups and perpetuate sexual violence for the same sociopolitical reasons men do. Consequently, “women perpetuating wartime atrocities is surprising only because of the gendered assumptions … often [made] about women’s capacity to commit violence.” Read the full study here.

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