March Round Up – Women in Conflict Zones

Imperial democracy mainstreams women’s rights discourse into foreign policy
‘Feminist geopolitics,’ writes Jennifer Hyndman, “aims to recast war as a field of live human subjects with names, families, and home towns.” The intersection of feminist critique and anti-imperialist resistance to the so-called “war on terror” forms the subject of this illuminating collection of essays from a range of scholars and activists who convened at the “Feminism and War” conference in New York in October 2006. Continues at

UN Official Calls for More Female Peacekeepers
The female ranks of U.N. peacekeepers are going up, but not fast enough, according to the organization’s top cop in charge of peacekeeping strategy. “For policing to be effective, it needs to be reflective of the society,” said Andrew Carpenter, chief of the strategic policy and development section of the U.N.’s police division. “Do you know of a society that is 92 percent male?” Carpenter asked during a panel discussion Monday at the U.N.’s New York headquarters. Carpenter used the 53rd session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women to appeal to member nations to deploy more women in peace-keeping operations around the world. Continues at

Rape survivors need better emergency care – MSF
People who have suffered sexual violence in countries facing humanitarian crises need much more accessible, comprehensive and confidential care than is currently available, says a new report by the international medical charity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). “We find that the specific emergency care needed for victims of rape is either very rare or completely absent in the countries where we operate,” said Thilde Knudsen, MSF’s sexual and reproductive health advisor. “The damage cannot be completely undone; some level of psychological impact is likely to remain for life.” In the report, Shattered Lives, released on 5 March, ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, MSF highlights its experience with sexual violence in Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and South Africa. Continues at

Liberia Stresses Need for Female Peacemakers
Officials and activists from around the world gathered in Monrovia, Liberia, last weekend to push for more female peace negotiators. Women may not start wars, but, participants said, they were often uniquely qualified to help end them. For three days and nights 28-year-old Comfort Wilson rode in the back of a pickup truck from her rural village in Liberia to the capital, Monrovia. She came with 30 women from her village sleeping in the truck bed, eating food they prepared at home. They came, along with women from Mozambique, Guatemala, Kosovo and 25 other countries, as a global show of support for the idea that more women must be involved in building and maintaining peace. Continues at

UN tracks rising violence against women in Gaza
The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Gaza, local Palestinian NGOs and mental health professionals are reporting increased incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault against women in Gaza since the beginning of 2009. An unpublished UNIFEM survey of male and female heads of 1,100 Gaza households conducted between 28 February and 3 March indicates there was an increase in violence against women during and after the 23-day war which ended on 18 January. Continues at


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