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Gender, Peace & Security

Paying attention to gender is crucial to understand the social, political and economic dynamics of peace and security. Gendered experiences of injustice, marginalisation and humiliation can be drivers of armed conflict, while the disruptions brought about by armed conflict can have profound impacts on traditional gender roles, norms and attitudes. The resulting shifts in power relations can take place at the level of households right up to the sphere of national politics and policymaking.

However, the inequalities and exclusions that affect women, men and gender non-binary people’s [1] options as they respond to violence and insecurity and engage with peace and justice processes are layered and complex. Indeed, gender is but one of many markers of social identity, such as age, ethnicity, (dis)ability, class, race and sexual orientation. Because gender always intersects [2] with other markers of social identity, women, for example, do not automatically unite with other women to advance their shared ‘gender-based’ interests.

On the other hand, gender can play a significant role in the political discourses and narratives that are tapped into, and at times carefully constructed to mobilise collective grievances and rally large sections of a population around a political ideology, a nationalist ideal or radical extremist objectives.

Peacebuilding efforts are more effective when they take these kinds of dynamics into consideration. But simply putting on your ‘gender glasses’ to grasp the role of gender in peace and security is not enough to achieve genuinely inclusive peace and human security.

In addition to applying gender-sensitive methods, PAX commits itself to adopting a gender transformative approach whereby we seek to challenge harmful gender norms and pursue peace and security processes that are empowering and inclusive.

Our Approach
For PAX, gender is a cross-cutting policy priority. Seeking integration of gender perspectives in all our programming, we support struggles for equal rights and inclusive justice where we can as these interlink with the objectives of our partners in conflict-affected areas as well as in regional and international security policy advocacy.

A gender-sensitive approach is important because it takes into account how men, women and gender non-binary people could have different needs, play different roles and may face different constraints (such as obstacles to participation in decision-making and access to resources) in the context of armed conflict, peacebuilding processes and human security.

The Women Against Violence project, which ran until 2016 in Iraq and Palestine, brought together local women to develop strategies and create opportunities to engage with formal and informal security actors, enabling them to take control of matters that affect their lives on a daily basis. The premise of the project was that, while women can benefit from support in their efforts to increase community based human security, equal if not more attention must go to engaging men and the institutions which favour them. In this case that meant working directly with police and traditional/religious authorities to address discriminatory practices and encourage institutional transformation.

PAX also takes part in (inter)national policy networks and coalitions. For example, PAX is signatory to the third Dutch National Action Plan, which the Dutch Government developed together with civil society as a response to the UNSC Resolution 1325. Since its inception PAX has been a key partner of the process, and its implementation.


[1] The term gender non-binary people refers to people who express non-binary gender identities, i.e. gender identities that do not fall exclusively in man/male or woman/female categories. Some examples include genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, transgender, and bigender. Within non-Western cultures, individuals from groups such as Two Spirit people, Fa’afafine, or Hijra are sometimes considered to comprise a ‘third' gender, but may or may not identify as non-binary or transgender. Adapted from ‘Non-binary gender identities fact sheet’, available on: (accessed 15 November 2017)

[2] Intersectionality was developed as a concept by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989), and makes us aware that systems of oppression and exclusion are interconnected, while women, men and non-binary people are not one homogenous group.