War has largely been a field dominated by men. The role of women in war, on the other hand, has long been a little-noticed topic. To the extent that women have been referred to in war contexts, they have often been portrayed as passive victims and often put in the booth “women and children”. However, many have realized that women are also actors for better or worse and that in some cases they can be the key to conflict resolution.
- What role do women play in war?
- What does gender-based violence involve?
- How can women contribute to peace?
2: Diverse roles
Gender is the most basic categorization of individuals – more important than both ethnic, religious and political affiliation. We often associate “gender” with biological gender, but the term can also have another meaning, what we can call ” social gender “. This is a term for the different roles of men and women in society.
Simplified, we can say that in many societies the role of women in peacetime is often characterized by softer care values such as wife and mother. Men are more closely associated with a protective role. In addition, they are often expected to take control when political and economic decisions are to be made. However, this is an overly simple and stereotypical presentation when it comes to women in war. Women also have a protective role in the family and often also a strong financial significance.
It is therefore necessary to gain a broader understanding of the role of women in conflicts, both historically and today. At the same time, it is important to point out that women, just like men, usually fill several and overlapping roles, such as wife, cook, mother, spy and soldier.
3: Women as War Participants
Throughout the ages, women have participated in war both directly and indirectly. Although women have not been as visible in war as men, it is a common misconception that war is a matter only for men. One of the most famous warriors in history, Jeanne d’Arc, fought in the 15th century for France in the Hundred Years’ War against England. She was crucial when the French city of Orléans was liberated from English occupation.
However, famous female war figures are often praised because they show a courage that is not usually associated with women. Jeanne d’Arc wore men’s clothing, perhaps to emphasize that she distanced herself from the typical expectations of women at the time. In recent times, guerrilla groups such as the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the Maoists in Nepal have been shown to have a relatively high number of women in the ranks.
Among the Tamil tigers are approx. a third of women, and since women are perceived as less dangerous in public places, they have also been used in suicide operations. Although full equality is far from being achieved in the Western world, women today participate more in military roles and occupations than just a few decades ago.
4: Extra labor and support function
According to INTERSHIPPINGRATES.COM, war and conflict usually create major challenges in the everyday lives of men and women. In general, it has been shown that women’s work effort and participation increase in war when public services such as school and health care break down. During World War II, women were largely encouraged by state propaganda (both in England, Germany and other countries) to enter the industry when men were called out into the war. Women may have to take over in the arms industry when factory workers are called out in the war, but they are also recruited as soldiers.
In general, we can say that in today’s conflicts, women participate more often in a support role than as soldiers. Instead, they go into work such as cooking, caring for the sick, messengers, etc. There is thus a tendency for traditional roles to be maintained even in conflicts.
5: The battlefield closer to home
In recent centuries, war has been fought far from home, on distant battlefields where the parties represented different states – that is, intergovernmental war. In recent decades, however, war has meant, first and foremost, civil war . The distinction between battlefield and home or private sphere has then become smaller . The two arenas overlap more than before. Women are therefore more directly affected by war than before. Yes, attacking civilian women has become a weapon and a goal in itself.
The reason for this may be that women represent their family and society in many ways since they have the reproductive ability to give birth to children and in many ways they take care of the family. In addition, women are responsible for cultivating the soil and thus also access to food.
Since regular soldiers, in the army, rebels and militias are often underpaid, they exploit the locals for survival. Often through coercion . When women are affected both physically and mentally, this also breaks down the family around. Some argue that in today’s conflicts it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier. Civilian women often do not carry weapons and have little protection against attacks by armed soldiers.