Making Women Count for Peace
In the year 2012-13, WISCOMP established a multi-year partnership with Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and five other research institutions in India and Nepal to collaboratively work on the project ‘Making Women Count for Peace: Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia’. With a focus on contemporary Northeast India and post-conflict Nepal, the project addresses the role of women in governance and politics, particularly within the context of peace and security processes.
The goal is to investigate what women’s empowerment might mean in different contexts, i.e. in protracted conflict without third party mediation in Northeast India, and a post-conflict setting with heavy multilateral and international involvement as in Nepal. The investigators approach this question by studying how gendered political power is transformed in conflict, assuming that differences in the forms and expressions of gendered power relations during and after conflict impact on how ‘empowerment’ might be achieved. By contextualizing and tracing manifestations of gendered political power in conflict as well as post-conflict settings, the project seeks to contribute new knowledge on processes of ‘disempowerment’ and ‘empowerment’ in conflict and peacebuilding.
The project will produce both academic and policy-relevant output, including recommendations to policymakers on how women can play a more prominent role in peacebuilding and how such a role may be linked to the goal of women’s empowerment.
Spaces for Reconciliation and Justice
WISCOMP supported Mr. Harsh Mander, Managing Trustee, Aman Biradari
Trust, in a project to study processes of justice and reconciliation
in Gujarat. Titled, Communal Socio-political Movements in Independent
India: Spaces for Reconciliation and Justice, the project had two
• Action research that documents the activities of community
based teams in Gujarat engaged in processes of reconciliation that
include but also go beyond processes of legal justice. The action
research was being systematically documented through a monthly newsletter.
• Academic research, which will looked at how practice and theory
could be synergized in the new and emerging field of Reconciliation.
South Asia and Non-Traditional Formulations of Security
The research initiative facilitated by WISCOMP aims at contributing
to a corpus of knowledge both empirical and theoretical and focuses
around the manner in which gender and (non traditional) security concerns
intersect in South Asia. It seeks to mainstream gender analysis into
the evolving discourse on Non-Traditional Security. The aim is also
to provide points of entry to engage with issues in a manner in which
gender concerns begin to be reflected in peace initiatives and processes
of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The project is an attempt to add to the contemporary discourse which
seeks to expand the contours of the security debate, by moving it
beyond a narrow military or state-centric preoccupation. It is also
envisaged as crucial to the articulation of the concerns of that half
of the population whose voices are marginalized in the mega narratives
of conflict analysis and peace building. The idea is not to map the
terrain of non-traditional security issues per se but to explore the
theoretical spaces where these concerns intersect with that of gender.
The “non-traditional” variables of security are now recognized
as impacting both inter and intra state security beyond what the cold
war discourse cognized or envisaged. The globalized environment of
the post-cold war period has thrown up new challenges, threats, new
actors and indeed new concerns that decisively change the contours
of ‘security’. The outlines of the non-traditional security
discourse still seem to be emerging and there appears to be little
consensus and considerable ambiguity on what constitutes its domain.
Typically, security concerns today encompass a whole range of ‘extra-territorial’,
‘trans-state’, ‘non-military’ issues from
drugs, trafficking, organized crime, displacement of human beings
within and across borders, ethno-political tensions and ‘ human
security’ concerns such as food and water security, environment
crises, state atrocities, human rights issues and so on. It is not
difficult to see that gender mediates each of these concerns and may
impact male and female populations in dramatically different ways.
In fashioning the conceptual vocabulary required to grapple with these
new concerns, the alphabet of gender is a crucial, hitherto neglected
The WISCOMP project seeks to redress the imbalance by placing gender
concerns squarely within the parameters of the evolving discourse
on security. “Non – traditional security” is not
seen here as an alternative discourse, but as a nuanced refining input
to arrive at an expanded and holistic notion of what must constitute
security concerns of nation states, both as accountable for the security
and well-being of their citizens and as participants in a vastly changed
Gender consequently, is not just another ‘non-traditional’
variable in the growing menu of security concerns, but an integral
factor that shapes the manner in which they play themselves out. Engendering
security is factored into this project as an inescapable element in
the formulation of an inclusive discourse.
The studies in this series include:
1. Migration and Circles of Insecurity: Paula Banerjee and Ranabir
2. Gender and Armed Conflict in Kashmir: Sudha Ramachandran and Siddharth
3. Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want? Rethinking Security in Bangladesh:
Hameeda Hossain, Meghna Guhathakurta, Malini Sur
4. Ownership or Death: Women and Tenant Struggles in Pakistani Punjab:
5. The Centrality of Gender in Securing Peace: The Case Study of Sri
Lanka: Kumudini Samuel
6. Gender and Peacekeeping: Experiences from South East Asia
Collaborative Research: Attitudes of Teachers in India and Pakistan: Texts and Contexts
During the course of Conflict Transformation workshops WISCOMP received requests from participants for supporting collaborative research projects undertaken by young professionals from India and Pakistan. It was felt that such collaborative projects could enable participants to engage with each other’s worldviews and jointly generate options for the transformation of the conflict between the two countries.
As a response WISCOMP invited applications from the Conflict Transformation Workshop alumni for a collaborative research award. The first in this series of collaborative research was awarded to Michelle Baxter (Program Officer, Action Aid, Chennai) and Zahid Shahab Ahmed (Program Officer, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Islamabad) for their project titled Attitudes of Teachers in India and Pakistan: Texts and Contexts.
The research sought to explore how teachers in India and Pakistan induce “enemy images” in the minds of students, and how this indoctrination influences processes of peacebuilding and nation-building. It also examined the content of history textbooks and their role in perpetuation of hostility between the two countries. The findings of the research were published by WISCOMP in 2007.