War and security, women and gender: an overview of the issues

Publication date

12 Nov 2013

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This article addresses the gender division of war and the significance of men and masculinity in processes of militarisation. Three phases of the continuum of war are considered. In periods of war-readiness, societies see a diversion of spending from social provision to the armed forces, accompanied by an increase in patriarchal ideology and authority. The actual waging of wars calls for the delivery of extreme but disciplined violence, and combat training shapes masculinity to this purpose. Armed conflict often involves a massive sexual assault on women. Women have recently intervened internationally to argue that if peace is to be more than a mere cessation of hostilities, ‘security’ must be redefined to mean the satisfaction of human needs, including comprehensive safety for women. Women’s peace movements, worldwide, are theorising that gender power relations are significant among the causes of war, and transformative change in how we ‘live’ gender can be a significant resource for peace. This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.