The Role of Women in Peace Movement

Introduction :

Women’s worldview is basically peace-centric. A basic undertone of women’s culture across the world is their culture of peace. Actually, women’s motherly attitude  stimulates them to struggle for establishing peace. History tells us that women were hardly active in conflict ever and we have reasons to believe that. They have stood always against injustice, instability of the society. In recent years, we gave experienced women’s significant involvement in peace movement and their contribution to this process is really notable and praiseworthy.

Peace Movement :

A peace movement is a social movement that seeks to achieve ideals such as the ending of a particular war, minimize inter-human violence in a particular place or type of situation, linked to the goal of world peace.

In the view of Wangari Mathaai,

“Peace  movement accumulates a numbers of activities that denies all forms of violence, war, conflict and urges to establish and promote justice, equality, ensurance of human rights to satisfy people’s fundamental needs as steps towards attaining peace”.

In fine, peace movements denotes the promotion of a culture of peace through accepting various necessary measures towards the welfare of human being.

To examine peace movement by women profoundly, at first, we need to gain an understanding regarding feminism.



The emergence of feminist ideas and feminist politics depends on the understanding that in all societies which divide the sexes into differing cultural, economic or political spheres, women are less valued than men. Feminism also depends on the premise that women can consciously and collectively change their social place.

Feminism is both a doctrine of equal rights for women (the organized movement to attain women’s rights) and an ideology of social transformation   aiming to create a world for women beyond simple social equality.

As an ideology, feminism looks upon a women or a female as a human being and opposes all kinds of cruelties, repression and exploitation of women  in the male dominated social order, considers both men and women as equal in respect of their nature as independent beings, seeks to procure equal social, economic and political rights to women.

Feminism is a movement desires to arise a class consciousness among women and thus organize them into different groups and organizations so that they learn to spend their lives in their own way and to their liking to develop themselves fully. The movement  of feminism is aimed at enabling women to play useful and active role in all spheres of life along with men by freeing them of the burden of the marriage and family.

Relations Between Feminism and Women’s Peace Movement :

Feminism combines both theory and action. There is a symbiotic relationship between feminism and women’s peace movement.Women’s peace movement leads to feminism and feminism, in turn, influences women’s movement.

One of the early peace groups to draw a connection between feminism and peace  was the Garrisonian wing in the 1830s. For many 19th and early 20th century women’s rights and women’s reform societies, the virtues of peace and love were linked particularly with women. With the rise of the new feminist movements of the late 1960s, new rifts appeared in the earlier connections between feminism and peace.

In addition, contemporary feminists have grown much focusing on the connections between feminism and peace.

Feminism fundamentally rejects the power principle of domination and subjugation. It rejects the concept of power which says that one side’s victory must be the other side’s defeat. Feminism must question social structures based on this principle at every level from the competition of men and women in personal relationships to the competition of the nations of the globe including the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. We seek an attentive power principle of empowerment in community rather than power over and disabling of other. No body wins unless all win. War making has reached such a level of destructiveness that the defeat of one side, means the defeat of all, the destruction of the early itself. Feminism today sees its links with the cause of human survival and the survival of the planet itself.

Basic tenets of Feminism :

  1. Feminisms/ Plurality
  2. Diversity in motivation, method, approaches experience and political commitment
  3. Combination of theories and activism and  action/ theory and writings
  4. Political commitment to bring change in the lives of women
  5. On women and for women
  6. Consciousness  Raising
  7. Against all kind of Hierarchy

Feminist Perspective on peace :

As an analytical tool, any feminist perspective means the way women live, think and organize matters. It means looking at the world through the eyes of women. Bright Brock, the founder of the feminist perspective of peace also defines peace. She divided and focused peace from negative and positive points of view. Negative peace means absence of violence against women’s and  positive peace to ensure right. In the context of feminist perspective negative peace means the absence of direct, or personal and physical violence against women such as rape,  wife beating, acid throwing, child abuse etc.

Positive peace exists where there is absence of indirect and structural violence. Feminist positive peace is related with ensuring their rights, equality, social stability and development, security and women empowerment etc.

UN Women Conference and the Idea of Peace:

The women’s peace concepts gradually developed through the UN women decade conference:

Years Places Countries
1975 Mexico City Mexico
1980 Copenhagen Denmark
1985 Nairobi Kenya
1995 Beijing China

Table: UN women Conferences:

In the paragraph 288 of Nairobi declaration it has said that violence against women exists in various forms of everyday life in all societies.Women are being beaten, mutilated, burned sexually abused and raped. Such violences are major problem for peace   

What Means Women’s Contribution to peace:

Significant efforts had been made by women which are characterized by-

  • Women’s perspectives in rebuilding security and calling for an end to gender based brutality and abuse.   
  • Women’s Peace activism and creative and effective strategies for peace and development.
  • Participation of women’s civil society organizations in promoting human security.

Mechanisms for women’s Contribution in culture of peace:

Women keep their contributions in culture of peace by the following mechanisms:

  1. Fostering of a culture of peace through education
  2. Promoting sustainable economic and social development.
  3. Promoting respect for all human rights
  4. Actions to equal genders.

9. Actions to promote international peace and security

10.Actions to advance understanding tolerance and solidarity.

11. Actions to support participatory communication.

12. Actions to free flow of information and knowledge.

How women can play there role in peace movement?

The role of women in peace movement may be categorized as follows:

1. Peaceful Conflict Resolution

Women are not only victims, they are taking initiatives to play significant role in the conflict resolution and seek peace. Today women in many pars of the world are already intimately involves in reconciliation and conflict resolution process to ensure peace such as-

  1. At the beginning of world war I, women for thirteen countries assembled in the Hague to protest the war and discuss ways to have it stopped.
  2. In northern Ireland catholic and protestant women ran an practical community project together to ensure peace between them.
  3. The Sudanese Women’s voice for peace promotes dialogue and reconciliations among different ethnic groups and guerilla functions in Sudan, and has established underground link between women in North and South Sudan.

Thus women’s potential in conflict resolution is largely associated with their mothering attitude.

2. Women in peace- building :

Women are, in absolute sense, suited to the attempts of fostering peace seating peace loving families; promoting social justice, developing human and healthy neighborhoods, small and large. Welfare has always been associated with concerns related to women for example women as nurses, homemakers, nurtures. International women’s peace organizations have aims to promote women’s role in peacebuilding through participation of organization on the ground impacting policy on a global level, public awareness raising and the award of a peace prize for women.

Actually,women’s peaceful activities are fostered by the more movement for women’s rights and gender equality.

3. Women’s in peace research and education :

Women develop and disseminate the research on the physical, psychological, economic and social rights and effects of armed comities policies and programs to address the consequences of conflicts.

They also, consider educational programs for girls and boys to foster a culture of peace, focusing on conflict resolution by non-violent means and the promotion of tolerance.


4. Women in defense and Peacekeeping operation

Women’s roles are more positive then men about defence, security forces, forcing aid, receiving, playing peace-keeping and decreasing defense costs. Women’s potentially expanded sole in peacekeeping is largely the result of the expanded role of peacekeeping itself. Women have recently become a significant proportion  of some armed forces and significant proportion of locally recruited staff in UNPK missions.

Locally recruited staff in UNPK missions.

Mission Total Staff Women (%)
ONUSAL (El Salvador) 244 47.3
UNPROFOF (Yugaslavia) 1161 45.7
ONUMOZ (Mozambique) 296 29.1
UNFICYP (Cyprus) 368 25.8
UNDOF (Gdam Heights) 84 25.0
MINURSO (W-Sahara) 49 24.5

Source: The peace research vol-4, page-67, published by Canadian peace research institute, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, 2005.

5. Contribution through socialization roles :

Every woman contributes to socialization roles which are related to community works. The roles includes-

  1. The contribution to gender sensitive socialization
  2. Training for non-violence and
  3. Egalitarian partnerships with a specific focus on boys and young men.

6. Women and sustainable development / environment

To achieve a sustainable peace, the process of sustainable development should go on without sustainable there can be no sustainable peace and development. For example, Wangari Mathaai, Kenyan women peace activists, was awarded peace prize because of her contribution in environmental peace movement.

Women have shown leadership in promoting human security which is conducive for environmental and land security by calling for complete ban on landmines and nuclear testing. Such as, women have played critical role in Cambodia where landmines cover roughly 36,000 km.

Disarmament Process:

The signing of the CTBT, the Biodiversity conventions and the destruction of any remaining nuclear stockpile are designed by their contributions.

They advocate with a clear understanding of the detrimental effect of continued unclear dumping on fragile island ecosystem and environment and the consequences of environmental degradation.

7.  Women’s participation in NGO’s :

Women’s NGO’s have made a significant contribution in countries where internal violence has crusted. They not only call for a cessation of the hostilities and condemning violence but also heal the rifts that have developed  in rebuilding sheltered communities.

8. Women’s organizations for civil society :

Strong women civil society organizations cultivate skills and broaden opportunities for women to gain entry into political and peace process. They also (i) articulate new social  agendas linking to peace to initial development issues

(ii) Use gender to bridge deep political, ethnic and religious divides, lumens civil society organizations have also contributed to the development and realization of women’s full capacity for leadership.

9. Democratic movement:

Women have and had both different working methods and political agendas. Women work more easily than men across pasty boundaries. Values and issues are traditionally linked to women that are higher on their political agendas, such as; social welfare, health care, education, environment and international co-operation and solidarity.

10. Women in extra- parliamentary activity :

Women play their roles in this field by the following ways-

a. demonstrations b. Campaigns c. Organizing movement d. Coalitions e. Secretariat centers for research as well as relief f. Networking within and beyond national borders or regions.

Women work to provide alternatives to violence and wars that are related in civil society and often relates to daily life experiences.

11. Disarmament process:

The signing of the CTBT, the Biodiversity Conventions and the destruction of any remaining nuclear stockpile are designed by their contributions.

Women’s party for survival, founded by Dr. Helen Caldecott, Changed its name to women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) devoted itself to disseminating information on nuclear arms and development. The WAND organized to publish news letters, convene membership conferences and initiate demonstrations in favor of nuclear disarmament.

In 1984 women’s peace initiative was organized in the USA to support the Nuclear Freeze Movement. The women at Greenham common in UK served as a rote model for the development of other peace movement designed to confront nuclear arms build-up by using non-violent, uniquely feminist means of protest. The Seneca women’s group in USA comprised of students, publishes,  army captains, elected officials, women clergy, teachers, social workers and farmers invigorated worldwide nuclear disarmament movement.

Women advocate with a clear understanding of the detrimental effects of continued unclear dumping on fragile island ecosystem and environment and the consequences of environmental degradation.

12. Women to foster the peace process:

There are many examples of efforts by women to foster the peace process through building bridges and promoting development among them are-

* Sri-Lanka- Where several women’s groups are focusing on building peace and democracy at the community level, especially in the Tamil dominated areas of the North and the east.

* North-eastern India-Where women groups have continued to express their desire for peace and condemn the violence accompanying the ethnic conflicts  in the region.

* Cambodia-Where women have created a vibrant civil society movement with assistance of international organs.

Examples of Encouraging women actions for peace

Women’s actions for peace are manifold and provide a huge encouragement. some excellent examples are-

  • Colombian women refusing to give birth as long as violence prevails, inspired by Lysistra, the mythological figure from ancient Greece.
  • Mothers of Russian soldiers refusing to spend their sons to war and rejecting the hero status medal.
  • Liberian women initiating a broad disarmament program.
  •   South African women insisting on gender equality in parliament.

The mothers of the plaza del Mayo in Business Aires, demonstrating for human rights and justice.

Women Noble Peace Prize and Contributions  :

Year Name Country Contributions
1905 Bertha Non Sutlner Austria A tireless propagandist for peace by pen, such her anti war novel Die Wafter Nieder
1931 Jane Addams USA Develop peace on earth with planning for a wise peace to the end of war.
1946 Emily Batch USA Justice and peace and for the rich sense of ethics
1976 Married Corrigan, Betty Williams. N. Ireland Shrew diplomacy unleashed in their war torn country
1979 Mother Teresa India Devoted her whole life to serving the poorest of the poor.
1982 Alva Myrdal Sweden Long displayed courage to confront the truth
1991 Aung San SuKyi Myanmar Sacrifice for establishing democracy
1992 Rigoberta Menchu Guatemala Prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities.
1997 Jody Williams USA
2003 Shirin Ebady Iran Human rights movement
2004 Weangari Mathai Kenya Environment Movement

Importance of Women’s Contribution :-

Women’s participation in international peace and security process is a prerequisite for achieving an enduring and authentic peace. Women are highly invested in preventing conflict and they are often themselves targets of war. Great feminist peace heroes believed that women have a special role to play in the creation of peace. women’s contributions are important because-

a. Women bring to the peaceable distinctive experiences and perspectives.

b. As negotiators   they are often good lustiness, more concerned about finding a resolution than providing a point. They generally seek collaborative and practical solutions based on social justice and equity.

c. Being half of the population, women form the backbone of their communities when it comes to the reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of their communities.

d. Mostly invisible and working at grass roots level, women have proved themselves to be remarkably resourceful in rebuilding their societies in practical and innovative ways.

Barriers  of women contribution to peace

There are some barriers which are-

  1. absence of women at decision making levels with regard to conflict
  2. lack of support and encouragement for full participation of women
  3. lack of adequate training to strengthen women capacity to take on leadership roles.
  4. religious domes and fundamentalist concepts of the society.
  5. lower rates of women education and increasing less awareness of women
  6. social prejudice about women and impediments of social norms.

Opinions to ensure women’s role in peace

To ensure women’s role in peace we should take some measures which given below:-

  1. Every state should take appropriate and effective measures to over come all forms of gender based violence and discrimination.
  2. Women’s due security should be ensured in their working places.
  3. Women should be motivated to protect their children families and communities from harm.
  4. State should take measures to established equal rights for men women sphere of the state. So that women can bring up themselves as a capable and independent being.

Concluding Remarks :

Women are significant and unavoidable part of our lives. No measures or steps can produce desired values denying women’s involvement. Actually, peace can’t be attained without developing a culture of peace. This culture is quite impossible to promote by denying the participation of women. Because we experience that women have been the principal target in violence or war. Their story is a story of complete loss. Death and destruction are not all of women’s sorrows in conflict. Owing to gendered nature of conflicts, they face physical violence, oppression, prosecution solely aimed at them. Women are often subjected to the most degrading treatment in the hands of the aggressors. Hence, women should, at first, come forward to take various measures for peace. Though, they  are getting themselves involved in peace movement, it is not yet satisfactory due to various impediments and set-backs. But it is absolutely true that peace movement can never reach its ultimate goal without the proper participation of women at all level.

Bibliography :

Women and peace, author Chris Mark, Oxford University Press, Published in 1999.

Women in 21st century author Harry Morison, Published in 2003

Peace Journal, vol. 64, Canadian Peace Research Institute,