Women in Peacebuilding in Somalia

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Gender awareness in peace processes and negotiations is not a question of political correctness or the peaceful nature of the sexes involved but rather, the strategic analysis of an effective, sustainable and fair processes involved in dealing with the conflict and peace issues (Egnell 2016). Even though assertions have been made to the effect that women are peaceful by nature, such assumptions have faced criticisms and backing from diverse groups. One of the famous descriptions of the ‘peace loving nature of women’ is in Aristophanes’ play, Lysistrata, in which the women used sex as a weapon – by depriving their men of sex and sexual pleasures – to end the war between Sparta and Athens (Charlesworth 2008). Reardon (1985) in her book, Sexism and the War System also presented an account of women as anti-militaristic, therefore innately peaceful. She even promoted merging masculine objective rationality with feminine intuitive rationality in her project which strived to identify positive values held in common by women and men that promote non-violent relations between individuals, nations and social groups (Quoted in Charlesworth 2008: 349). Interestingly, most arguments associate women’s motherhood and motherliness to some form of a natural affinity of women with peace. For example, Ruddick (1989: 3) asserted that “a mother’s preservative love” is a direct contrast to militaristic strategy or violence. Even though Ruddick’s association of women’s role in society with love and peace can be corroborated by the general actions and behaviour of women in most communities, it can as well be argued to be a social construct of sex roles. Just as Margaret Mead argued, if opinions and actions which have traditionally been viewed as feminine “such as passivity, responsiveness and a willingness to cherish children” are set up as masculine acts and responsibilities in a particular society and are outlawed in another, then we can no longer regard such actions as “sex linked” (Cited in Rosaldo, Lamphere, & Bamberger 1974: 18).

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