… Women need to become the architects of their own solutions post-conflict, building from the resiliency they demonstrated during the war and even capitalizing on new roles and opportunities that might open up to them when the social order is upended.
Global Views >> International Women’s Day
The overlooked challenge of development
By Ann Hudock for DevEx 08 March 2016
To succeed in this ambition we need to do three things:
First, instead of reconstructing the old order post-conflict, we need to build on the platform of new opportunities that women have created. Unless and until we design post-conflict assistance strategies that protect, preserve and deepen the economic spaces that women carve out organically during conflict, we will be rebuilding on a faulty foundation.
Second, we need to invest in research that tells us what happens for women during war in terms of livelihoods they create and what opportunities open up to them when men are less present to fill these same jobs. We also need to know more about what cultural shifts take place, what gender boundaries blur or disappear for women, and — significantly — what effect that has on their economic enterprise.
Women’s economic activities during conflict are often in the informal sector and involve self-employment rather than wage earning. For example, in Sierra Leone, men actively recruited women into breadwinning roles so that men were free to fight and the women were able to fund them.
Finally, economic empowerment for women post-conflict requires more than economic engagement. Women need access to land and land rights, political representation, savings, leadership training, and psychosocial support. There are important roles here for the private sector, post-war reconstruction generally and women’s economic empowerment specifically.
Given the informal nature of women’s economic participation, we know very little about what allows them to parlay the roles and opportunities that open up to them in conflict and war, and to leverage these for longer-term economic advancement.
About the author
Dr. Ann Hudock serves as the senior vice president for international programs at Plan International USA. Prior to joining Plan, she was a managing director at Development Alternatives Inc., where she diversified DAI’s client base by designing and spearheading DAI’s strategy for growth with the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali