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date: 24 June 2019

(p. xiii) Foreword I

(p. xiii) Foreword I

Seventeen years after the United Nation’s Security Council linked gender equality and the maintenance of international peace and security, men still overwhelmingly dominate the halls of politics, the composition of peace tables, the decision-making positions of governance institutions in most nations across the world, and even the staffing tables of regional and international organizations, including the United Nations itself. All forms of violence against women are still met with unacceptable levels of neglect and impunity. Funding for women’s needs and priorities in the aftermath of conflict, and for the thankless work of community-based women’s organizations that prevent violence and build peace and reconciliation, remains grossly inadequate.

Yet, the world has made progress in all those areas over the last few years. This progress can be maddeningly slow, and is often met with backlash and resistance, but it is undeniable. If women are able to organize effectively, it is unstoppable.

Progress is noticeable not just in the increasing numbers of women winning elections, but in the type of laws and policies they adopt. It is noticeable not just in the proliferation of political declarations made in the world’s capitals, but in the change in cultural attitudes toward women’s rights that is taking place in villages away from those centers. It is equally noticeable in the jurisprudence emerging from national and international tribunals, and in the programs servicing hundreds of thousands of survivors today that simply did not exist two decades ago.

This Handbook explores the gap between those two seemingly contradictory trends: both the unprecedented steps and measurable progress; and the distance remaining to our goals and the strength of the intervening forces. Most important, this Handbook shows that to understand the current wave of armed conflicts, or find a way to address it effectively, it is essential to pay close attention to the role of gender, both as a category of analysis and as tool for positive change and transformation in the twenty-first century.

We face today some of the most dire and complex challenges to security and sustainable peace in modern times. It is no coincidence that this occurs alongside a resurgence of nationalisms and a pushback on women’s rights. This book provides critical insights into how our existing tools, analyses, and responses have been based on incomplete and partial thinking, with chapters contributed by many of the leading academics on gender and conflict from multiple disciplines, alongside practitioners and policymakers. It is only by addressing inherent inequalities, and understanding gender in relation to peace and conflict, that we will deliver the responses needed for the challenges we confront.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women (p. xiv)