Intersections of Violence Against Women and Girls with Post-Conflict Statebuilding and Peacebuilding

Lessons from Nepal, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan

In recent years there has been increased recognition by the international community that prioritising women’s rights in state-building and peace-building (SBPB) efforts is central to realising sustainable peace in post-conflict settings. This has led to the adoption of key policy instruments and frameworks that have sought to increase women and girls’ meaningful participation in peace processes. At the same time, growing attention to the problem of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in conflict has seen an increase in efforts to address VAWG in global humanitarian policy and advocacy fora.

However, the gendered nature of SBPB processes is often overlooked, despite the ways that gender power relations are present in and can affect the success or failure of state-building and peace-building (SBPB) (Strickland and Duvvury, 2003). International and national approaches to prevent and respond to VAWG and SBPB processes often exist in parallel, with issues of VAWG and gender notably absent from SBPB strategies and policies (Handrahan, 2004; Domingo et al., 2013). In addition, while sexual violence perpetrated by armed actors has received more attention by both policy actors and the media in recent years, a growing base of evidence suggests that war and conflict also increase other forms of VAWG – including intimate partner violence (IPV) and forced marriage (Ager and Stark, 2011; Global Women’s Institute and the International Rescue Committee, 2017; Lemmon, 2014).

This brief presents findings from a ground-breaking study, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, that explores the intersections between VAWG and efforts to secure peace and stability in conflict and post-conflict contexts. This is the first time that a systematic approach has been taken to bridge the gap between VAWG and SBPB policies and processes.

The study aims to increase recognition of the potential for SBPB processes to more effectively institutionalise approaches to the prevention of and response to VAWG, and the role that addressing VAWG can play in advancing sustainable peace. This research brings together findings from three case study countries – South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Nepal – along with analysis of global literature.