The way we perceive and portray women during and after war affects which (women’s) issues are considered in subsequent peace processes. If women are predominantly imagined as victims, they only have to be taken into consideration as such in designing the post-war order and in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, sidelining many of the issues women fight for during conflicts, such as the transformation of gender relations. This may lead to many women’s needs and demands remaining unaddressed.
A more nuanced picture of the various ways in which women join and participate in conflicts is necessary both to prevent war and enable sustainable peace. From 2018 to 2021, Berghof Foundation, together with local partners and supported by GIZ and GIZ Philippines, has collected first-hand and locally generated knowledge on female combatants’ actual experiences and aspirations in political transformation. Together with project researchers who are themselves former combatants, we analysed the various challenges and opportunities faced specifically by female members of non-state armed groups that are currently going through peace processes, and the lessons learnt acquired by women who have undergone similar processes in the past. Their stories and experiences were documented in a booklet and a documentary film, and discussed in dialogue workshops.
This projects expands the research and documentary process to Colombia and Uganda and multiplies its impact through dissemination and training manuals.
Dr Evelyn Pauls