Our overall aim is to ensure international peacebuilding policies and practice contribute to non-violent and equitable gender relations within societies. International Alert understands that conflict affects and engages men, women, boys and girls in very different ways. Violent conflict impacts on the social construction of gender identities, in particular on the militarisation of masculinity and the victimisation of femininity.
We work to understand such dynamics and to integrate these considerations across all our peacebuilding activities. We aim to bring awareness of the diversity of gender and other identities within groups of men and women to better understand and respond to the power dynamics that influence conflict dynamics and the building of peace at household, community, national and international levels.
We also recognise that, due to acute gender inequalities and the lack of structures and norms to protect them, women are often more vulnerable and bear the brunt of many of the harmful consequences of armed violence. Without addressing the various and specific physical, economic and socio-political insecurities experienced by women, we know the attainment of broader peacebuilding and development goals will be compromised.
Our knowledge of transforming violent and unequal gender relations is currently contributing to more responsive and inclusive governance, security and justice programming in the following conflict-affected regions:
West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone
South Asia: Nepal, Sri Lanka
African Great Lakes: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda
South Caucasus: Abkhazia, Georgia
Governance and women’s participation
International Alert’s work on gender evolved from our 1999 campaign Women Building Peace: From the Village Council to the Negotiating Table, which helped to successfully influence the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in October 2000.
We continue to monitor and advocate for the implementation of SCR 1325 and its sister resolutions, which constitute a broad political framework emphasising the role of women and the need to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and to integrate a gender perspective in all aspects of conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding and post-conflict resolution. We do this primarily through working with local civil society organisations, national governments and the international community to implement and monitor National Action Plans on women, peace and security.
Access to justice and security from a gender perspective
We support the development of adequately functioning, accessible and accountable security and justice provision, principally in Nepal and Liberia. Our programmes are based on the understanding that both accessible justice and security are core functions of the state and serve as fundamental building blocks for sustainable peace. We work towards building gender sensitive security and justice systems that address impunity and security deficits for women and men.
Through our governance, justice and security programme activities, we:
- Research with partners in conflict-affected regions and academic institutions to develop a gender-based understanding and analysis of local contexts, issues and needs at practical and policy levels;
- Support local partners in conflict-affected regions to act as an advocacy bridge between policy-makers and civil society organisations, fostering spaces for dialogue between these diverse groups;
- Engage in capacity-building for men and women, through training and accompaniment, so that they can effectively advocate for the integration of gender issues in peacebuilding and security processes at local, national, regional and international levels;
- Make policy recommendations on key issues to policy-makers, implementers and practitioners at national, regional and international levels;
- Provide specialist support, advice and training on gender issues to International Alert’s regional programmes, peacebuilding and development sector actors, and at national, regional and international policy levels.
Gender equality and women’s political participation are important markers of inclusive peacebuilding and good governance. Women’s greater participation in politics and public life in conflict-affected regions should form the heart of true reform, helping to significantly increase the culture of plurality in post-conflict political life.
Inclusivity and accountability have the potential to impact on the management of inter-ethnic, communal and national tensions. We believe that activities that support such inclusivity should form the centrepiece of our gender programming at International Alert.
Our security and justice programmes are based on the understanding that both justice and security are core functions of the state as well as fundamental building blocks for good governance, stability and socio-economic development. Investments in the security and justice sectors are more likely to take hold and be sustained in the long term if reforms adequately address the diverse security needs of all women, men, girls and boys.