Gender, Empowerment, and Learning for Peace
“Gender is intimately personal and is ultimately political.”
On 22 March 2016, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the Gender, Empowerment, and Learning for Peace programme. This collaborative event was arranged by the research cluster on Education, Social Justice, and Development--part of the Governance and Inclusive Development group at the University of Amsterdam--and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was structured around the Master’s in International Development Studies course, ‘The Politics of Education, Conflict, and International Development’, coordinated by Dr Mieke Lopes Cardozo; Lopes Cardozo moderated this event.
Elizabeth Maber, a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam, kicked off the event by highlighting criticisms of ‘empowerment’ within feminism and noted that, regardless of these assessments, the idea persists in today’s literature. She then shifted into an enlightening discussion on the role of women’s civil society organizations and NGOs in advancing equality objectives, using women’s activism in Myanmar as a case study.
Jolanda Tal from Cordaid, the second panelist at the event, spoke about capturing and empowering the unheard voices of women for peace and security. She argued that women’s interests are insufficiently represented within peacebuilding contexts; to promote action and policy change, local-level organizations need to gain support. Ultimately, if we strengthen the voice of women, then we can hope to increase the overall quality of peace and security.
The last panelist was Annemieke Santos, who represented the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her discussion centered around gender in the peacebuilding context and focused on its political nature. She ended by stating, “Gender is intimately personal and is ultimately political.”
The final hour of the event was given to previous Master’s students in International Development Studies. Here they presented posters on their individual thesis research, which were stimulating and diverse in nature. Presentations included:
- Katharina Buske on History Teachers in Post-Conflict Contexts and Their Role in Peace Processes (A Case Study of Mon Schools in Myanmar)
- Anna-Lena Gleich on Recognizing Youth Refugees’ Rights (A Case Study in Greece)
- Jacob Hansen-Shearer on Perpetuating the Divide: History Teaching and Reconciliation in Post-War Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
- Hannah Whelan on Bad Blood: Eco Femme and Experiences of Menstruation in Tamil Nadu (India)
Written by CSDS Intern Megan Romania