1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (Arabic edition)


From Chapter 13 – The impacts of conflict on women

Ten years after the Beijing Conference, the world is still enduring an epidemic of armed violence, with 19 major conflicts and many more smaller-scale violent confrontations ongoing in different parts of the globe. Although the number of major conflicts is lower than in most of the years since end of the Cold War, the decline in armed confrontation and warfare optimistically anticipated at the beginning of the 1990s has never effectively materialized. Some wars have ended; however, not only do many continue, but the changed circumstances wrought by the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States and the subsequent “war on terror” appear to have left the world more prone to unpredictable armed violence than before. The problems of addressing the causes and implications of conflict in the lives of ordinary people, including and especially women, have accordingly become more complex.

The end of the Cold War saw changes in the forms and arenas of armed violence. Some conflicts or armed political confrontations earlier fuelled by the global competition for strategic allies between the two superpowers of East and West came to a negotiated end. However, new wars were also unleashed by the relaxation of controls held in place by the long era of superpower stand-off, such as those in the former Yugoslavia. Several ongoing conflicts—Kashmir, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo—are holdovers from the postcolonial period, continuing in new mutations. Yet others derive from internal contest over territory or resources between local clan or ethnic leaders, as in Burundi, Somalia and Indonesia; or are armed insurrections against the state, whose fortunes ebb and flow but which fail to reach a conclusive end, as in Sri Lanka, Chechnya and Colombia.

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