Men’s Role in Women’s Rise to Power in Conflict-Resolution Processes

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The role of women in peace building and conflict resolution has been embodied through contemporary global initiatives such as the United Nations’s 1325 resolution, numerous conferences and fruition of associations such as Women for Women International, Code Pink and Femmes Africa Solidarite. But among this rise of women’s voices, have men been silenced? Have they become inherently unqualified to speak as advocates for women’s rights? If so, how could we overcome this ironic paradox? The following articles and media reflect current voices and views on this topic:

Article: An uncomfortable truth: the gender turf war at UN CSW, By Lyric Thomson (2010)[edit]

“It’s the paradox of the global women’s movement: we disapprovingly wonder aloud where all the men are when we convene to discuss so-called “women’s” issues […] but then we bristle when the boys show up and want a turn at the microphone.” [1]

In her article, Thompson draws on the issue of excluding men from conflict resolution and peace building. She argues that including men is not detrimental to women’s rights but necessary, noting the importance of educating men in particular:

Women for Women International have also piloted a men’s program in four of our chapters - Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and the The Democratic Republic of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - to engage male leaders as allies and advocates for women’s rights and value to the economy and society. These leaders then spread the good word to other men in their networks, which tend to be the networks that control the majority of the power and resources in the community. Then we have men and women learning about women’s rights and value, in an environment where women are increasingly able to access those rights and everybody understands it’s a good thing.”[1]

The value of education[edit]

Lyric Thompson’s claim[1] is seconded by the Peace Building Initiative, in the report Empowerment: Women & Gender Issues: Women, Gender & Peace building processes;in which context and education are considered fundamental:</br>

“Many formal peace building activities and policies suffer from an insufficient understanding or acknowledgment of the diverse communities in which they operate. Gender analysis can bring to light the experiences of men and women during conflict and peace, assess needs, and show how gender relations change during and due to conflict and peace.”[2]

Voicing the men[edit]



“We affirm that working to make this nation’s ideals of equality substantive is the finest expression of what it means to be men.[…] We applaud and support the insights and positive social changes that feminism has stimulated for both women and men. We oppose such injustices to women as economic and legal discrimination, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and many others. Women and men can and do work together as allies to change the injustices that have so often made them see one another as enemies.”[3]

Video: A Call to Men[edit]

Tony Porter is the visionary and co-founder behind the non-profit A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women. In a TED Talk[4], he stresses the importance of being able to free oneself from the “man box”.


Despite the understanding that men are most often the cause of violence against women in conflicts, they are intricately linked to the solution. Silencing them or limiting their role in post-conflict reconciliation, reintegration and peace building could lead to lesser results in those domains. The solutions explored all revolve around education and its importance in shaping respectful interactions between genders. Through education, limitations such as the “man box” descibed by Tony Porter can be overcome.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Open Democracy
  2. Peace Building Initiative
  3. NOMAS
  4. TED: Ideas worth spreading Web site (2010).