The Role of Women in Conflict Situations
In conflict situations from Georgia to Colombia and Sri Lanka, women play critical roles during and after conflict, as combatants, survivors, heads of household, community leaders and peacebuilders. Many humanitarian, development and political actors are devoting increased attention to women in conflict situations, introducing a large number of resolutions, policies, programs and initiatives, including the U.S. government’s Women’s Nationality Initiative. The United Nations and Switzerland, amongst others, have recognized the importance of the role of women in these contexts by passing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and implementing it in the framework of the Swiss Action Plan “Women, Peace and Security.” However, in many instances women’s diverse concerns and contributions still remain marginalized.
On May 2, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion on the intersections between conflict, displacement and peace—with a focus on the contributions women can make and the importance of incorporating gender perspectives into humanitarian and peacebuilding policies. Panelists included: Heidi Tagliavini, Swiss ambassador, former special representative of the secretary general and head of the international fact-finding mission on the conflict in Georgia; Chaloka Beyani, United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons and co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement; Carla Koppell, senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment with USAID; and Claude Wild, Swiss ambassador and head of the Human Security Division in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Switzerland. They reflected on efforts such as these to support women as agents of positive change in conflict situations. Brookings Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Project on Internal Displacement, provided introductory remarks and moderate the discussion.
Former Brookings Expert
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons - United Nations
Ambassador and Former Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia
Ambassador and Head of Human Security Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs - Government of Switzerland
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"You have to play the long game. It’s fine to add money, but when the commitment is volatile and your funding goes up and down constantly, you can end up creating more harm than good."
"We have been in Central America for a long time. It’s not just money that has made us effective in the region — there is a lot of hard-earned experience, trial and error, and institution building that is slowly reaping results. The worst thing that could happen now is to go back to zero."