Women, patriarchy, and traditional conflict resolution

With the criticism surrounding western “top-down” liberal peace methods (McLeod and O’Reilly, 2019; Selby, 2013), scholars and practitioners of peace and conflict resolution have called for incorporating traditional perspectives in “western” peace strategies. Sen et al. (2014, p. 257) believe that incorporating non-western perspectives in contemporary conflict management and conflict resolution strategies challenges the western perspectives and ideals of “peace”. Moreover, it is argued that postcolonial elites give very little attention to cultural and traditional conflict resolution strategies during resolution of conflicts (Julian et al., 2019; Run, 2013). The major factor contributing to the exclusion of the “local” and “tradition” in contemporary peace and conflict resolution strategies is the “perceived” conflict of tradition with modernity. Ashis Nandy believes that this conflict is a direct product of colonialism in Asia and Africa where “tradition” was considered an antonym to “modernity” and portrayed as something “rigid” and “hostile” to the reason and spirit of democracy (Nandy, 2011, p. 445).

“Tradition” becomes particularly important in peace and conflict resolution strategies. In many ways, it is the maintenance and transmission of social and societal values over generations that assist indigenous groups in maintaining their identity' within the wider society' in the global south. However, protecting gender rights and encouraging equal participation of women in such societies often clashes with male and state-defined cultural and religious values (Raday, 2003; Jamal, 2006). Hence, “tradition”, especially when combined with aspects of religion, is, even today, used by male stakeholders to justify discrimination against women (Okin, 1998; Naseer, 2019).

Feminist facilitators in peace and conflict resolution face a major challenge of incorporating feminist methodologies into more traditional male domains of peace and conflict resolution (Lazarus, 2000, p. 66). To overcome these barriers and the lack of research on the role of women in peace, Heidi Hudson (2016) calls for the notion of “Feminist Frontiers”. These frontiers “represent intermediate and mediated spaces or epistemological borderlands from where the under-theorised and empirically under-studied discursive and material dimensions of peacebuilding from a gender perspective can be investigated” (Hudson, 2016, p. 1). Laura McLeod and Maria O'Reilly (2019, p. 8) also call for “gender-just” conflict resolution processes that can identify and address “context-specific gender nonns, identities, and power structures in sites of conflict and also recognise the practical and strategic gender interests of women situated in conflicted contexts”. For a transformation of mainstream theorisation of “gender-just” peace as mentioned earlier, the definition of peace and conflict resolution itself needs to be redefined. In this new definition, “resolution” of conflict should not merely lead to cessation of conflict, rather, it should also result in the “destabilisation” of the “older” social order, and create a new, just social order (Menon, 2012, p. 169). This “older” social order, in most societies, is often characterised by' male-dominated and male-designed nonns working towards the exclusion of women from structures and institutions of power.

Patriarchal norms and male-domination in many “traditional societies” also increase the risk of sexual violence against women, especially' in post-conflict settings, such as refugee camps, where the notion of masculinity is challenged, leading to increased frustration among men (Atuhaire et al., 2018). Moreover, in post-conflict traditional and conservative societies, gender-based violence not only becomes a norm, but it also becomes a way of life (Myrttinen, 2012). In such societies, “patriarchy and war are mutually reinforcing systems” and hence any' deviation from this “established order” is met with punishment by using violence against women (Abrahamyan et al., 2018, p. 49). To address the issue of this growing violence against women and their exclusion from peace and conflict resolution processes, both in theory' and in practice, using a postcolonial, feminist perspective seems appropriate as it helps in resisting “dominant and hegemonic discourses of representation and power by making alternative representations visible and possible” (D’costa, 2016, p. 410; see also Motlafi, this volume). Such a perspective also highlights how the colonial experience in the global south solidified the male political agency, which — in the postcolonial state — was legitimised by “custom” and “tradition” and ultimately contributed to further exclusion of women from public/political sphere (D’costa, 2016, p. 410). Discussion in the following section borrows inspiration from this perspective by analysing the Pashtun cultural code of Pashtunwali and presenting a non-essentialist picture” of the Pashtun way of life. The challenges associated with the inclusion of women in political and peace and conflict resolution processes have also been discussed.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >