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Militarization and women’s empowerment in post-conflict societies

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1.1 OVERVIEW

Militarization often precipitates violent armed conflict but may also continue well after a conflict has ended. Heightened militarized processes in response to internal and external perceived threats entrench gender roles and enhance gender hierarchies. Militarization often shifts resources away from policy areas such as education and health that are especially important to girls and women. As a result, female empowerment is impeded or recedes when both society and policy focus on a militarized path. Some post-conflict countries see improved female empowerment after the end of conflict. However, emerging threats might lead to militarization, which could undermine the initial gender empowerment gains post-conflict.

This research paper examines under what circumstances post-conflict societies can avoid renewed militarization and potentially increase female empowerment and posits that the presence of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations (PKOs) can allow for decreased military spending due to its ability to mitigate violence in both conflict and post-conflict situations. It is expected that states with a UN presence should be more easily able to reduce their militarization levels than civil conflict states without UN peacekeeping. It is further posited that peacekeeping should facilitate a policy shift that allows for greater female empowerment. In short, peacekeeping should both indirectly increase empowerment by decreasing militarization levels and directly by leading to decreased violence and higher levels of political and social stability