Gender Empowerment and United Nations Peacebuilding

Previous studies have suggested that societies where women have higher social and economic status and greater political representation are less likely to become involved in conflict. In this article, the author argues that the prospects for successful post-conflict peacebuilding under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) are generally better in societies where women have greater levels of empowerment. Women’s status in a society reflects the existence of multiple social networks and domestic capacity not captured by purely economic measures of development such as GDP per capita. In societies where women have relatively higher status, women have more opportunities to express a voice in the peacemaking process and to elicit broader domestic participation in externally led peacekeeping operations. This higher level of participation in turn implies that UN Peacekeeping operations can tap into great social capital and have better prospects for success. An empirical analysis of post-conflict cases with a high risk of conflict recurrence shows that UN peacekeeping operations have been significantly more effective in societies in which women have relatively higher status. By contrast, UN peacekeeping operations in countries where women have comparatively lower social status are much less likely to succeed.

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