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  • Marzele Bosch (South Africa)

Gender and Inclusive Security: The role of gender equality for international peace and stability

Countries should prioritize gender equality and inclusivity. Apart from the moral aspect, an inclusive and equitable society promotes domestic and international peace and stability. Empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating the country's economic growth and development. Furthermore, countries with very few women in the labor force are more likely to experience internal conflicts. Thus, not only will gender equality and inclusivity promote growth, but they will also create peaceful domestic environments. The effects of a country’s internal environment will very likely transcend borders. Empirical evidence shows that higher levels of gender equality correlate with lower levels of military action to settle international disputes. Countries with low human rights standards, including gender inequality, are more likely to have militarized and violent interstate disputes. The severity of violence in international conflicts will decrease as gender equality and inclusivity increase. Violence against women and children may be a powerful predictor of whether a society is prone to violence. Furthermore, high violence against women may indicate a country’s disregard for international norms and agreements.

Evidently, gender equality and inclusivity are critical components of international security. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the persistence of gender inequality. This is reflected in SDG 5, which calls for gender equality and empowering all women and girls. However, an intersectional gendered lens should be applied to goals. International peace and security policies may mention equality and inclusivity. However, it should be incorporated throughout all policies. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 encouraged the international community to move away from framing women as victims of armed conflict and to recognize women as critical stakeholders in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes. The representation of women at all decision-making levels should be increased to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts. Research shows a positive correlation between women’s involvement and reaching peace deals. In other words, when women are more involved, agreements are called more often than when women groups are not involved. Additionally, including women in peace processes positively affects the durability of peace agreements and may prevent conflicts from reoccurring.

While women’s participation in peace negotiations has increased in recent years, the numbers are not yet representative of the female population. Between 1992 and 2019, women were only 13% of negotiators, 6% of mediators, and 6 % of signatories in significant peace processes worldwide. Women are still faced with challenges that exclude them from decision-making positions. Women remain underrepresented in peace processes despite overwhelming evidence of the positive impacts of women’s participation. An intersectional lens should be applied to all policies to challenge stereotypical assumptions and address blind spots to see how experiences may be shaped by gender, race, and many other factors often hidden from the public view. Gender equality and inclusive societies will contribute to a lasting state of non-violence maintained by legitimate institutions, structures, and positive attitudes toward ecological sustainability and social justice. Gender inequality creates barriers to effective, sustainable development and a peaceful international community.

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