Women Waging Peace

| September 20, 2002 Issue

G ender equality aside, Swanee Hunt and Christina Posa provide historical and modern proof of women's unique, almost biological ability to ease the tensions of war and work for its elimination.

"While most men come to the negotiating table directly from the war room and battlefield, women usually arrive straight out of civil activism and-take a deep breath-family care," they write. "The idea of women as peacemakers is not political correctness run amok. Social research supports the stereotype of women as generally more collaborative than men and thus more inclined toward consensus and compromise."

Evidence of their theory comes from the prevalence of women's organizations in Sudan, India and Pakistan, Palestine and Israel, and Northern Ireland, where women work together to bridge the gap between warring sides. Women have even gotten peace initiatives serious attention from governments, after they were elected into previously "men only" political offices.

As for women's impact on peace talks, they have proven to be voices of reason. "A British participant in the Northern Ireland peace talks noted that when the parties became bogged down in abstract issues and past offenses, 'the women would come and talk about their loved ones, their bereavement, their children, and their hopes for the future,'" the authors write. "The women's experiences reminded the parties that security for all citizens was what really mattered."
--Julie Madsen
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