Gender as a Causal Factor in Conflict

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Evidence is available to demonstrate the role of gender in different inter and intra state conflicts.
This evidence mainly points to correlation between gender and conflict, rather than causation. Gender plays a key role in encouraging men – and in some cases, women – to take part in conflict, and it acts as a discourse to invoke, fuel and perpetuate conflict and violence. However, the evidence shows that gender is never alone as a cause or driver of conflict, and that it is always intertwined with other social, economic, cultural and political factors.

There are existing comprehensive reviews of evidence on the links between gender inequality and outbreaks of violent conflict (Herbert, 2014a, 2014b). These show clear correlations between levels of gender inequality and conflict, and emerging evidence to illustrate links between gender-based violence and conflict. There is a strong evidence base on the ways that beliefs and values behind unequal gendered roles and power relations are instrumental in building support for and perpetuating conflict (Wright, 2014).

There does not appear to be a great deal of literature analysing the gender dimensions of other drivers of conflict – such as, for example, land rights, natural resources, poor governance, inheritance, internal displacement, or food security – and applying this within conflict analysis frameworks. There is, however, a body of academic literature that focuses on the links between patriarchal institutions/structures and militarism more broadly (Cockburn, 2010; Duncanson, 2013)

 

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Jenny Birchall

Jenny is currently a Gender Convenor at the Institute of Development Studies, UK. Prior to this she was Policy Manager at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Great Britain, and has experience in organising gender and equality training via the European Social Fund. Jenny has a Ph.D. in women's studies from the University of Manchester, UK.

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