Illustration of different people standing in a line

Over the last few decades peacebuilding practitioners have tried to identify the links between gender and conflict and what this means for peacebuilding, yet significant gaps remain.  Gender-sensitive conflict analysis (GSCA) is the starting point to understanding and transforming the ways in which gender inequality causes conflict and discrimination, fuels exclusion and causes violence against some groups in society. It can enable peacebuilders to do more effective and strategic work. 

Conciliation Resources and Saferworld have led international practice by developing and applying tools for GSCA with the aim of ensuring that peacebuilding practice is at minimum gender sensitive, moving towards gender-responsive, and aiming to be gender-transformative – where our work addresses the underlying structural causes and factors of gender inequality. 

Gender-sensitive peacebuilding is an international standard in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions. As part of our contribution to the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 Conciliation Resources and Saferworld have created a practical guide to assist facilitators to use a participatory GSCA methodology. The guide:

- explains how to design and facilitate a flexible and participatory 3-day workshop

- provides step-by-step guidance and participatory tools to analyse gender, peace, violence and conflict for any conflict context, and

- positions practitioners to apply their analysis to policy thinking and programme implementation.


Lessons from northeast Nigeria

We are sharing our experiences because we know what works. 

In 2017-18 Conciliation Resources and a local partner, The Kukah Centre, conducted a conflict analysis in northeast Nigeria, which has been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.  We spoke to over 1,000 people – a third of them women. Taking an intersectional approach, the research focused on understanding the barriers to the inclusion of marginalised people, both male and female, ethnic and religious minorities, and the differences between old and young. 

The findings show that the failure to adequately sensitise communities about rehabilitation and reintegration plans for the return of people associated with Boko Haram has led to misconceptions that threaten to derail the entire process. A common view is that men were more likely to have joined Boko Haram voluntarily and were all active combatants, while women were assumed to have been coerced. Despite awareness of the prevalence of women suicide bombers, communities view men associated with Boko Haram as a greater threat and, as such, are more willing to tolerate women formerly associated with Boko Haram returning to the community. 

These misconceptions fuel community resistance to reintegration programmes. While women returnees face significant levels of stigma and exclusion, their presence is generally tolerated, whereas men will often face threats or acts of violence. In addition, these programmes may categorise people according to these gendered stereotypes, with men often facing a punitive form of reintegration while women undergo a community-based approach. 

Based on these findings, Conciliation Resources re-focused its programmes. By taking account of not just the varying ways in which women and men become associated with Boko Haram and their particular roles, but also the way that gender shapes how these individuals are perceived within the community. 

Our new programmes include better informing communities about the need for a targeted reintegration process that better responds to the different needs of women and men. In particular, we focus on shifting the recurring narrative of men as voluntary, active combatants. The programme also looks to take lessons from the way that communities are able to tolerate the presence of women associated with Boko Haram to see whether they could be applied to the reintegration of men.

As we learnt in Nigeria, and in many other contexts around the world where we’ve used this approach, a thorough gender-sensitive conflict analysis is vital for effective peacebuilding work. We hope that our new facilitators guide will help many more peacebuilding practitioners use this methodology successfully. 

* United Nations–World Bank Flagship Study, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict