4th Annual Conference

June 2015, Brisbane

The Difference that Gender Makes to International Peace and Security

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In 2015 it will be twenty years since delegate countries signed the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; fifteen years since the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security; and 2015 itself, will be a year of intense consultation and negotiation with the looming end of the Millennium Development Goals.  A stated ambition of the High Level Panel of Beyond 2015 is to directly address the chronic failure in the past to prioritise gender inequality in all development and human rights projects.  Gender inequality, namely the social, economic and political rights of women and men secured irrespective of sex or gender, has not yet been understood as both a universal good and one that must be mainstreamed across development, human rights and preventative diplomacy sectors.

Accordingly, the concern in 2015 is not remarkably different from the concern in 1995 – societal and state tolerance of gender inequality directly contributes to the ongoing discrimination and oppression of, namely, women.  The intensity of discrimination against women will differ according to location, immigrant-status, sexuality, income, employment, disability, religious, economic, education and race/ethnic disparities; but it is present everywhere.  When gender inequality is normalised, women face heightened risk of being politically and socially excluded; and being targeted for public and private acts of physical violence, particularly in situations where there is civil unrest and conflict.

There is increasing interest in understanding the  correlation between high rates of gender inequality and the onset of conflict; likewise it is increasingly suspected that situations of extreme gender inequality may be an enabling precondition in situations of mass atrocities, which includes widespread and systematic sexual and gender based violence.    In post-conflict scenarios, gender inequality - when unaddressed - further risks alienation of women from peacebuilding processes, security sector reform and post conflict development programs.  This in turn affects the necessities to achieve peace – refugee return, land distribution, disarmament and demobilisation, labour and reconciliation – all of which contributes to the cycle of post-conflict violence and heightens the risk of a return to one-sided/state-level violence.

Over the last twenty years understanding the effects of gender inequality on international peace and security has led to much study and data collection. This feminist-informed scholarship has deepened collective understanding of the preconditions for lasting peace and security.  However, the impact that efforts to reduce gender inequality have had on sustaining peace and security has received less feminist scholarly attention. The argument that gender equality is not an optional extra but essential for the maintenance of international peace and security still needs to be made. This conference will bring feminist scholars of international relations together from across global regions. Papers directed at the conference theme will help to achieve this essential contribution.

It is in this spirit that the 2015 IFjP Conference theme will be devoted to the positive impact of gender equality on international peace and security - from the relationship to conflict prevention, the prevention of mass atrocities and conflict transformation, to the realisation of economic, social and political human rights.  We seek to include papers that have a diverse representation of regional case studies (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Pacific). This will enable the theme papers at the Conference to be a novel source of regional comparative analysis of the positive impact of addressing gender inequality and injustice.

 The purpose of this theme is to build data and cases that explore the positive impact of gender equality on international peace and security. We hope that participants will consider how their work applies to the theme, and enter the theme discussion. However, the conference will (of course) include papers that explore failed attempts to address gender inequality, or that speak to the remit of the journal and not necessarily the theme.