Publication date: 
Mar 2018

5 steps towards gender-sensitive conflict analysis

Dr Sophia Close
Senior Advisor, Gender and Peacebuilding
Conflict analysis is all about deepening one’s understanding of a conflict and the broader context in which it is situated. Good conflict analysis is sensitive to relations of power – including gender.
A gender-sensitive analysis of a conflict is essential for understanding the experiences of different women, men and gender minorities in conflict-affected areas, the power balance between different groups, and how to ensure greater inclusion of marginalised groups. 
Together with Saferworld, we’ve designed a participatory five-step process, to help peacebuilders undertake a gender-sensitive analysis of the conflicts in which they work. This process draws on learnings from the CDA Collaborative Learning Project’s systems methodology, and can be used in conjunction with our Gender and Conflict Analysis Toolkit.
Step 1: Build a shared understanding between participants of the complexity of the interaction between gender, violence and peace
Step 2: Identify factors driving gendered violence or conflict and for creating gender-sensitive peace
Step 3: Choose just one key driving factor and identify the causes and effects of the key driving factor
Step 4: Identify and map key peace actors and key conflict actors 
Step 5: Locate leverage points or windows of opportunity to increase the gender-sensitivity, effectiveness and sustainability of the peace processes

A gender workshop in practice: The Philippines

We have been using this five-step process with partners and staff in different conflict contexts. As part of the analysis process, we integrate specific questions and exercises to help participants understand how experiences of violence, as well as factors causing violence, are influenced by gender. 
Below are some tips and insights from a recent gender-sensitive conflict analysis workshop with our partner organisations in Mindanao, the Philippines:
1. Combine local and international knowledge
A deep understanding of context is essential for any peacebuilding intervention. In this case, thematic knowledge, concepts and best practice examples were provided by our London-based Gender and Peacebuilding adviser. Our Philippines-based Programme Manager played an essential role in helping to translate these to the local context, to design a process that suited local participants, and to facilitate conversations in the local language. This combination of external insights and local knowledge was key to the success of the process.
2. Understanding the power balance
Good conflict analysis pays attention to gender power dynamics. To get at this in a visual way at the beginning of the workshop, each participant was given a different identity or role (e.g. young male combatant from a rural area). The facilitators then called out ways in which people might access power; participants moved forward if they had more access to power, and back if they had less. This helped participants understand how different gender groups access and assert power within the communities in which they work.  
3. The Good Man/Good Woman exercise
Women, men and gender minorities are not a homogenous group. A gender analysis needs to get at the multiple layers of identity – notions of masculinity and femininity – which exist at a particular moment in time.  The ‘Good man, Good woman’ exercise helped us do this. Participants worked in two groups, all male and all female, to discuss what the characteristics of an ‘ideal man’ and an ‘ideal woman’ were in the communities in which they work, and how these ideals were different depending on age, ability or, for example, whether the ‘woman’ or ‘man’ was indigenous or Muslim.  Read more about the exercise in our Gender and Conflict Analysis Toolkit for Peacebuilders
4. Understand how the conflict has changed gender norms 
Understanding how conflict has or is changing gender norms offers insights for peacebuilding action – how attitudes, behaviours and roles are changing for example. In this case the whole group discussed how the ideal roles played by women and men, identified above, changed as a result of the conflict in Mindanao. We specifically discussed how the roles of women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and young people have changed as a result of the conflict. 
5. Contextualise concepts
During the workshop, participants discussed key concepts such as ‘violence’, ‘positive and negative peace’, ‘meaningful participation’ and ‘inclusive security’. To ensure that these concepts were not just theoretical, participants discussed them in relation to the current conflict situation in Mindanao. We explored how women, men and gender minorities experienced violence and inclusive security differently. This ensured a more grounded and practical conversation.
Our Gender and Conflict Analysis Toolkit provides practical guidance for peacebuilders. Download it here. 

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