The Role of Women in Stabilization and Reconstruction

It is widely recognized that women and young people are primary victims of conflict. During war, women are displaced, subjected to sexual violence and HIV/AIDS by fighting forces, and assume the caretaking role for children and the elderly. They are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, sexual slavery, disease, and forced recruitment into armed groups. Yet as the survivors of violent conflict, women also bear the burden of reconstruction. They return to destroyed communities and begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure; restoring and developing traditions, laws, and customs; and repairing relationships. In government and through civil society, women worldwide are contributing to all pillars of stabilization and reconstruction operations: security, governance, justice and reconciliation, and socioeconomic development. Indeed, their leadership in the transition period can serve as a window of opportunity to empower women, promote gender equality, advance women’s position in society, and bring wider benefits to many elements of society. A growing body of research has shown that capitalizing on the activities of women peacebuilders not only advances women’s rights, but leads to more effective programs and, ultimately, to a more sustainable peace.