Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women’s Rights

This paper argues that gender issues are becoming politicised in novel and counterproductive ways in contexts where armed interventions usher in new blueprints for governance and democratisation. Using illustrations from constitutional and electoral processes in Afghanistan and Iraq, it analyses how the nature of emerging political settlements in environments of high risk and insecurity may jeopardise stated international commitments to a women’s rights agenda. The disjuncture between stated aims and observed outcomes becomes particularly acute in contexts where security and the rule of law are severely compromised, where Islam becomes a stake in power struggles among contending factions and where ethnic/sectarian constituencies are locked in struggles of representation in defence of their collective rights.

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