Peace and conflict is similar to two sides of a coin. Everyone can see both sides when they are flipping it, but when it dropped on the floor only one side is seen. Peace and conflict are two realities which we endured everyday. It can take may forms, and takes place at different level. When channels to address grievance are closed while problems go unresolved then there is a bigger possibility for the conflict to break up. A personal dispute can easily transform into a mass brawl, while collective grievances can easily boiled into a common ground to express hatred to a particular party.
This article discusses on roles of women in conflict resolution. What termed as conflict here is an armed one. Such a contrast when studies about gender and on conflict are increasing but a suffice lists of gender and war is still limited. This paper, an excerpt of recent a study, which initiated by group of researchers, peace and conflict experts from different nations, tried to fill the gap in the field.
Peace and conflict are phenomenon of life where women, men, children, elders perhaps all in all have experienced. Although not every corner of the world experienced armed conflict, but many states in the Western and Eastern hemisphere have all in all experienced armed conflict. Armed conflict as past and current phenomenon has much to do with the development of social, politics, and economic paradigms. It also related to the technological advancement of human being.
Degree of experiences in conflict is various, not merely as victims, but perhaps, as perpetrators as well. Each individual in the conflict interpreted the meaning of experiences differently. But almost all in the same tune when saying that conflict costs more than peace. Since conflict covers different aspects and each interconnected to one and another, thus conflict resolution is not an easy matter.
Like in the conflict itself, a dispute or armed conflict, which takes two opposite sides, actors who involved are not only men or women. Both have the chance to become provocateurs as well as to become victims of the conflict. Both men and women, young and elderly under the perspective of equality have the same rights and access to regain their dignity and restore their daily life when the conflict stopped. Under such circumstances a gender balance in peace process is inevitable since the talks will bring insights from both women and men.
The nature of a conflict varies according to the context, which depends on the issues at stake, the grievances, the targeted persons or community, national or international, duration, objectives and methods of fighting, among others. These factors, in turn, affect the type of conflict resolution or peace agreements. In formal negotiations, women often rose social and political issues that are usually neglected at the negotiation table such as the resettlement of internally displaced people (IDPs), the plight of victims (both men and women) as well as sexual violence. They are also the ones to usually initiate reconciliation between conflicting parties. However, women continue to be dismally represented at the peace-negotiating table. According to a UNIFEM study in 2009, based on a review of 21 major peace processes since 1992, only 2.4% of signatories to these sample peace agreements were women (UNIFEM, 2009).
How about situation in Indonesia? Recent study conducted by a team from P2P LIPI, HDC and Ministry of Women and Empowerment addressed the roles of women in conflict resolution in Indonesia have found out that women had played important roles mostly in informal conflict resolution mechanism.
In Indonesia, complex social and economic issues are the drivers of violence rather than the traditional disputes over territory or sovereignty (HDC, 2010). Therefore it is a logical consequence if in conflict resolution or peace talks to end such conflicts the important issues will relate more to community relations and local economic where women can play central roles.
During a workshop in Jakarta, 24 and 25 March 2010, several women leaders of various organization which originated from post conflict regions in Indonesia, namely from Aceh, Poso, Maluku, Ambon and Papua gathered together to discuss and share experiences as individuals who face conflict and involved in peace process in their respected regions. Many of them addressed the absence of women during peace process, while noticed in post conflict stages women’s role is much more recognized. Shadia Marhaban, the only women participant from Aceh during Helsinki Accord in August 26, 2005 set a solid example how women were excluded in the peace talks while in Aceh history women’s role were common (Marhaban, 2010).
In the language of a Papuan women lawyer, for instance, when asking on whether Papuan women are more agree to dialogue than men,
“Secara kuantitas sebenarnya perempuan adalah kelompok yang lebih sering melakukan interaksi sehari-hari dengan berbagai individu atau kelompok lain,meskipun sifatnya informal seperti : di pasar, di Puskesmas, di sekolah, di kendaraan,di jalan dan dimana saja. Ketika berinteraksi perempuan cenderung lebih aktif dan berinisiatif atas dasar itu maka perempuan lebih mudah membuka percakapan dan melakukan dialog. Selain itu karena ‘kekerasan’ selalu diidentikan dengan laki-laki maka perempuan Papua cenderung menempatkan diri mereka pada posisinya yang anti kekerasan,paling tidak dengan mengedepankan budaya untuk bicara dan berdialog. Pengaruh ideologi patrilinial yang lebih jelas memposisikan laki-laki juga menyebabkan perempuan lebih mudah merasa cair dan menjadi bagian satu sama lain sehingga untuk mewujudkan perasaan tersebut mereka membangunnya dengan saling berkomunikasi sebagai ‘sesama perempuan’ meski berbeda suku.” (Latifah Anum Siregar/ ALDP, personal communication, May 2010)
Suffice to say that roles of women in conflict resolution is not merely related to deploying women for they are more peacefully inclined or in a degree less prone to conflict, but because women’s perspective are directly relevant to resolving conflict. Hence the arduous works to reveal what perspectives and under what circumstances such perspectives can be contributed to peace process can start. Internationally, the effort to recognize women’s participation in conflict resolution and building peace had pushed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to draw Resolution 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). (Irine H Gayatri/ researcher of Centre for Political Studies, alumni of Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden)
References: Marhaban, Shadia, Women and Peace in Aceh: A Struggle of Identity in patronage Politics, working paper for workshop in Sultan Hotel Jakarta, March 24 and 25 2010.
Potter, Antonia, Gender Sensitivity: Nicety or Necessity in Peace Process Management?, HDC, OSLO Forum Network of Mediators, 2008.
UNIFEM, Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence, April 2009.
Wallensteen, Peter, et.al., Conflict Prevention through Development Co-operation, research Report No. 59, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.