Dynamic role of women in conflict prevention

Published : 28 May 2023 08:42 PM | Updated : 28 May 2023 08:42 PM

Bangladesh has success stories of making sig­nificant progress in terms of promoting gender equality along with women's empo­werment in the recent years, including their involvement in conflict prevention efforts. Women's dynamic roles in conflict prevention can be seen through their engagement in peacebuilding, mediation, and advocacy (Porter 2003). One of such prospects is that women's dynamic roles in terms of conflict prevention is that their involvement can lead to more sustainable and inclusive peace (Adepoju, 2002). Women have different perspectives and experiences of conflict than men, and they are often better positioned in addressing mainly the core causes of conflicts that includes poverty, inequality, and social injustices (Isike, 2011). Moreover, when women are involved in peace processes, they tend to prioritize issues such as human rights, social justice, and gender equality. This can lead to more inclusive and sustainable peace agreements (Ahmed, 2008). 

However, there are also challenges to women's dynamic roles in conflict prevention in Bangladesh. Women's participation in peacebuilding is often limited by patriarchal attitudes and cultural norms that reinforce gender stereotypes and limit women's opportunities (Porter 2003). Additionally, it is observed that the representation of women in the area of decision-making positions in conflict prevention with peacebuilding have been often limited, despite the fact that they are disproportionately affected by conflict (Isike, 2011). Furthermore, women who engage in conflict prevention efforts may face threats, harassment, and violence from both state and nonstate actors (Adepoju, 2002). In some cases, women's participation in peacebuilding may even put them at risk of being targeted by extremist groups (Tryggestad, 2009). 

To overcome these challenges and further promote women's dynamic roles in conflict prevention, there needs to be greater investment in women's education, empowerment, and participation in decision-making positions. There should also be efforts to challenge patriarchal attitudes and promote gender equality in and at all the levels of the society (Isike, 2011). Moreover, it is important in ensuring that women's safety and security is prioritized in conflict prevention efforts, and that women who engage in these efforts are protected from threats and violence (Adepoju, 2002). Overall, promoting women's dynamic roles in conflict prevention is essential for building more sustainable and inclusive peace in Bangladesh (Tryggestad, 2009). 

Conflict prevention refers to efforts to identify and address the root causes of conflicts before they escalate into violence or become intractable. Conflict prevention involves a range of measures aimed at reducing tensions, building trust, and promoting dialogue and cooperation among conflicting parties. Effective conflict prevention strategies may include early warning and response systems, mediation and negotiation, dialogue and reconciliation, and capacity building for conflict resolution and peacebuilding (Porter 2003). Conflict prevention may also involve addressing underlying issues that contribute to conflicts, such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, and lack of access to resources (Ahmed, 2008). 

Bangladesh is a significant contributor to UN 

peacekeeping missions, with over 6,500 Bangladeshi 

combats serving globally. Bangladeshi women 

have played an increasingly

important role in these missions

According to the United Nations, as of February 2022, Bangladesh was the largest contributor of female peacekeepers among all UN peacekeeping troop- and police-contributing countries. Bangladesh had a total of 1,572 women deployed in UN peacekeeping missions, out of a total of 6,714 Bangladeshi peacekeepers. This means that women made up approximately 23% of the total Bangladeshi peacekeeping contingent. It's worth noting that while Bangladesh has made significant contribution to elevate its participation of women particularly in peacekeeping operations, women's representation in peacekeeping operations still falls short of the UN's target of achieving gender parity by 2028. Nevertheless, Bangladesh's commitment to increase the representation of female in peacekeeping operations has turned out to be a positive example of the country's dedication to promoting gender equality and advancing conflict prevention efforts (Willett, 2010). 

Women’s role in peacekeeping UN missions is increasingly recognized as critical for promoting lasting peace and stability. Their participation in peacekeeping UN missions can contribute to become effective along with sustainable of these operations in several ways.  

Firstly, women's presence in peacekeeping missions can help to build trust and rapport with local communities, especially with women and children who may have experienced violence or trauma. This trust can facilitate the gathering of critical information and intelligence, which can inform peacekeeping operations and help prevent conflict from escalating (Willett, 2010). 

Secondly, women's participation in peacekeeping missions can help meet unique perspectives of women where girls if considered in design and display of peacebuilding initiatives. This can include efforts to address gender-based violence, promote gender equality for supporting women’s economic empowerment. 

Thirdly, female participation in peacekeeping missions can help to challenge gender stereotypes and promote greater gender equality within the military and police forces that make up the peacekeeping missions themselves. This can lead to more diverse and effective peacekeeping forces that are better equipped to engage with local communities and respond to female needs (Ahmed, 2008). 

Despite women participation benefits in peacekeeping missions, there are still significant challenges to be addressed. Women are often underrepresented in peacekeeping missions, and face barriers to recruitment and promotion within military and police forces. Additionally, women who participate in peacekeeping missions may face gender-based violence, discrimination, and harassment (Wallensteen, 2015). To address these challenges, the UN has set a target to increase women participation in peacekeeping missions in all stages. This includes efforts to maximize combat participation along with civilian roles such as peacebuilding, mediation, and human rights monitoring. The UN has also established policies and guidelines to address gender-based violence and promote gender equality within peacekeeping missions. 

Bangladesh is a significant contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, with over 6,500 Bangladeshi combats serving globally. Bangladeshi women have played an increasingly important role in these missions, with more women being recruited and deployed in recent years. Their function is multifaceted. They serve a range of positions, including as military observers, police officers, and staff officers. They also serve in a range of civilian roles, including in human rights monitoring, gender mainstreaming, and protection of civilians (Wallensteen, 2015).