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International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament

Given the intensifying conflict between Israel and Palestine, the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament is of paramount significance in the present day. It draws attention to the vital need for peace and disarming of causes that put women at a disproportionate risk of violence. Historically, the day emerged as a feminist movement advocating for global peacebuilding and refusal to violence as a solution to the world’s challenges. 


An Illustration on International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament

Illustration by The Geostrata


In the 1980s, a group of pacifist feminists in Europe emerged and united to protest against the buildup of arms and nuclear weapons, establishing 24 May as International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. This day honours the struggle of women everywhere leading the struggle against militarism and continues to demand from the government to end the daily threat and impact of weapons on people and communities. 


This day emphasises the pressing need to break down male domination systems that encourage war and violence, demanding a paradigm shift towards comprehensive peace building with women in the forefront.

This movement advocates for an all-round solution to global peace through disarmament prioritising gender equality and justice by refusing to accept conventional gender norms while acknowledging the multiple impacts of wars on women; ultimately it envisions a world where everybody lives harmoniously together in security. This article weaves together the multifaceted impact of the movement, setting the stage to be the need of the hour. 

 

MEN ON THE FRONT LINE


The effect of masculinity on men serving on the front lines is massive, it's important to understand that these effects result from cultural standards and expectations around masculinity rather than from the characteristics of masculinity per se. In military environments, gender identity manifestations by men and women can become more inclusive and healthy when these standards are questioned and expanded.


Men have always been expected by society to be strong, courageous, and stoic due to traditional gender roles, especially during times of conflict and combat. This idea of masculinity, which has its roots in historical conventions, has exalted physical strength, violence, and power by placing males on the front lines of conflict.

 

Men serving in combat situations put a lot of strain to uphold these standards of masculinity which can have serious consequences having an effect on their mental and physical wellbeing. Soldiers may repress their feelings and disregard their mental health as a result of the expectation of strength and invulnerability, which raises the incidence of PTSD, depression, and other mental health conditions.


These problems are further exacerbated by the focus on masculinity, which frequently discourages asking for assistance or displaying vulnerability.

The idea that being a man means taking chances might lead troops to overestimate their level of risk-taking in combat, often to their own or their unit's cost. This risk-taking tendency may be encouraged by societal norms that praise bravery and penalise caution or delay in the face of danger.


Furthermore, violence is frequently justified by conventional ideas of masculinity as a way to establish control or settle disputes. The continuation of aggressive behaviour can have serious repercussions for the people engaged as well as for larger public perceptions of peacekeeping and conflict resolution.


In many military situations historically, women have been barred from front-line combat duties due to the association between combat roles and masculinity. In addition to limiting women's options, this exclusion feeds preconceived notions about their responsibilities and skills, which feeds the cycle of gender inequity.

 

DEBATE WITHIN THE MOVEMENT


Feminist Perspectives on War: Feminists believe that rather than being viewed as a means of a state defending itself against external security threats, the military might be viewed as a by-product of patriarchy. This is because women and other vulnerable groups are often more dependent on scarce resources during and after wars than on men.


An example of a male attitude to war is the significant defence budget that is allocated to soldiers and military hardware rather than to fostering a safe environment for women at home or to climate change initiatives that may improve the lives of women. The feminist approach to international relations shows how national and international politics affect people's security even at the local level.

 

Peace v/s Disarmament: Peace denotes a sense of harmony devoid of any kind of violence and conflict, emphasising justice, cooperation and justice while disarmament means eliminating or reducing the weapons of mass destruction like nuclear, chemical and biological weapons aiming to decrease armed conflicts.

While seeking to neutralise the violence while retaining the same effect, the two phrases have different meanings and approaches, as the feminists argue that reduction of militarisation would allow the relocation of the resources to the social sphere and women’s empowerment. 

 

Intersectionality: Race, class, and geopolitics all have a big influence on feminist debates about war and peace. Intersectional feminism holds that these factors shape women's experiences of conflict, leading to various demands and outcomes. For example, in conflict zones, situations for women of colour and those from low-income households can get worse. Intersectional methods ensure that efforts towards peace and disarmament are inclusive and address the particular challenges faced by different groups of women by advocating for tailored solutions that consider the multitude of realities of women's lives.

 

WOMEN'S SUFFERING IN WAR


Physical and Psychological Effect: Women and children are most vulnerable to physical and psychological harm in conflicted areas. Rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls are not a by-product of war but often used by military as a strategic move to win the war.


From the systematic rape of women in Bosnia to an estimated 200,000 women raped during the battle for Bangladeshi independence in 1971, to Japanese rapes during the 1937 occupation of Nanking - the past century offers too many examples. 


Witnessing or experiencing violence and loss during armed conflicts can result in profound psychological trauma, leading to PTSD and passing down the trauma to generations to come.


Economic Consequences: The occurrence of armed conflict disrupts regular economic activity thereby seriously hampering economic growth. Deaths, injuries and displacement lead to the loss of human capital that negatively affect productivity and creativity. Furthermore, instability and degradation of infrastructure also hampers trade, investment, access to markets and resources.


Excessive military spending leads to poverty and inequality by diverting funds from key social services such as healthcare and education. For instance, this is manifested in budget deficits, inflation, debt accumulation among other strains experienced in public finances due to this kind of humanitarian expenses.

In addition, conflict results into a sense of risk and uncertainty that discourages investments both locally or internationally and undermines confidence in business circles. Ultimately however, the impacts of armed conflicts on these affected regions are increased levels of poverty and underdevelopment cycles which stagnate future economic advancement as well as stability in those areas.

 

UN Initiatives: By prioritising a gender-sensitive approach, the UN program mobilises resources and coordinates humanitarian aid to fulfil the needs of people, playing a critical role in advocating for the rights and well-being of women and children impacted by violence. Such as UN Women implements programs and initiatives focused on advancing gender equality and empowering women in conflict-affected and prone areas enhancing women’s rights and access to justice, and providing support for survivors of gender-based violence.


UNICEF prioritises the protection and wellbeing of women and children in war-affected regions, delivering essential services such as healthcare, nutrition, education and psychological support and UNHCR provides humanitarian assistance and protection to displaced populations, including women and children who are particularly vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse. 

 

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL PROVISIONS


The first important council resolution on women, peace, and security was UN Security Council Resolution 1325. It discusses the effects of war on women and the significance of women's full and equal involvement in humanitarian relief efforts, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and post-conflict reconstruction.


The resolution also highlights the UN's gender-related responsibilities in a number of political and programmatic areas and calls for specific actions to protect women and girls from conflict-related sexual abuse.

 

CASE STUDIES


In 2014, the conflict in Yemen led to one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. Eight years of war have taken a devastating toll on civilians. the conflict claimed over 377,000 lives and displaced 4.5 million people. 21 million people need humanitarian assistance, and 17 million people in Yemen are extremely hungry, says UNFPA.


The conflict has increased gender-based violence and many women become the sole providers for their families due to the death or absence of male family members, highlighting the need for women’s participation in peacebuilding processes and emphasising that women’s rights and protections must be integral to any resolution.


The war in Syria has been going on since 2011 leading to significant loss of life, displacement and violence. Women in Syria are facing critical issues like basic healthcare and are devoid of basic education as well. They are the victims of sexual violence and forced early marriages. Refugee women are more at risk of exploitation.


Though millions have fled, 13 million internally displaced persons remain in Syria, including 3.8 million women and adolescent girls of reproductive age faced with limited to no access to reproductive health care, heightened risk of gender-based violence and the mental health repercussions of eight years of war. 

Feminists are constantly advocating to look at the issue with a critical lens and emphasise that peace cannot be achieved without addressing the gender-specific impacts of the conflict.

 

In 2022, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensified. Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine resulted in two years of conflict and instability for the civilian population. Among the most vulnerable groups are women, children, and families headed by women, since they frequently lack resources and coping strategies, encounter obstacles when trying to access services, and are more likely to be victims of protection hazards, such as gender-based violence. According to UN Women's prediction, 56% of the 14.6 million individuals who will require humanitarian assistance in 2024 will be women and girls.


Women are still affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is a lot of violence against Palestinian women in their communities as a result of the conflict. Women are disproportionately affected by economic hardship, lack of access to healthcare, and movement restrictions.


In addition to calling for worldwide solidarity to assist Palestinian women in their fight for equality and justice, feminist viewpoints highlight the importance of including women's rights and perspectives in any peace negotiations. UN Women reports that '10,000 Palestinian women in Gaza have been slain, among them an estimated 6,000 mothers, leaving 19,000 children orphaned' six months into the conflict. 


CONCLUSION


In conflict-affected areas, there is hope for constructive transformation despite the obstacles. The UN has made great progress in promoting gender equality in conflict environments and increasing public awareness of gender-based violence, in conjunction with other international agencies and civil society groups.


Sustaining these efforts and promoting a future where all people, regardless of gender, may live in peace and security need ongoing international solidarity and collaboration.

Additional steps can be taken to help vulnerable people in war zones, such as women and children. Increasing financing for development and humanitarian relief efforts that promote gender equality and protection—such as healthcare and education programs especially designed to meet the needs of women and children living in conflict-affected areas—may be one way to achieve this.


In addition, it is critical to bolster legal frameworks and accountability systems to combat gender-based violence and provide justice for survivors. In summary, although vulnerable populations in war zones confront many obstacles, there is hope for improvement due to coordinated efforts by the UN and other partners. We can all live in a more accepting and peaceful society if we address the underlying causes of gender-based violence, advance gender equality, and provide support to efforts aimed at social and economic development.


 

BY ISHIKA AGARWAL

CENTRE FOR LAW AND POLITICS, TEAM GEOSTRATA

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3件のコメント


Keshav Jindal
Keshav Jindal
5月26日

Thats an interesting piece on Gender and Society that surrounds us, really well done

いいね!

well articulated

いいね!

Interesting to see how women have played a role in ensuring peace and disarmament

いいね!
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