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Policy Brief: A new analytical framework for addressing the intersections of violence against women and girls with post-conflict statebuilding and peace-building processes

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Background

There has been increased recognition by the international community in recent years that addressing women’s rights is integral to the ways that post-conflict transition is advanced, and crucial to its overall success.1 This includes acknowledging and confronting the violence against women and girls (VAWG) that occurs both during the conflict itself and during the transition to peace. Despite the considerable attention given to this issue, both the theory and practice of post-conflict state-building and peace-building (SBPB) processes routinely ignore issues of gender equality and VAWG.2 This inattention misses a window of opportunity to advance women’s rights presented by the cessation of armed conflict and the re-establishment and further development of state structures in the post-conflict period.3 It is critical that policymakers and other key stakeholders capitalise on this opportunity, as harmful gender roles and inequitable power relations remain resilient after conflict ends.

A strategic review of the literature on VAWG and SBPB reveals that:

• Rates of VAWG, including forms of violence not traditionally considered conflict-related, are high during and after periods of conflict and have lasting effects on the lives of women and girls. However, VAWG is often not sufficiently addressed in state-building and peacebuilding efforts.

• VAWG and conflict may have many common drivers, including patriarchy and gender discrimination, that impact peace and conflict at all levels.

• Women are frequently excluded from both peace processes and wider political participation in conflict and post-conflict settings. Institutions that work on women’s rights (government and civil society) play a significant role in the efforts to eliminate VAWG and in the advancement of more peaceful societies.

• The post-conflict period provides an opportunity to advance policy and legal frameworks addressing VAWG. However, despite progress in policy and legal reform, service delivery to address and reduce violence against women and girls is insufficient in post-conflict contexts, reducing trust in and legitimacy of state structures meant to provide services.

This brief presents an overview of a new analytical framework that explores the intersections of VAWG and SBPB. This framework addresses the critical relationship between SBPB and VAWG: both the way that SBPB strategies may affect VAWG, and the possibility that VAWG may contribute to continued conflict and fragility. These frameworks assist with critical assessment of policy and practice, including considerations such as: In a conflict-affected country, how is VAWG related to efforts to achieve peace and stability? How has VAWG prevention been integrated and addressed within post-conflict state-building policy and programming? What effects do security and justice (and other) reform processes have on VAWG and on the lives of women and girls? These and other questions can be explored by applying the combined analytical framework to further studies and the development of policy and practice.