Want long-term peace in post-conflict countries? Involve women in natural resource management

PeacejimmybrownflickrWe’ve written about the need to empower women in natural resource management so that they can benefit, rather than suffer from, the natural resources in their country.

The benefits of increasing women’s engagement are obvious and extend beyond women’s own well-being. However, did you know that empowering women over natural resources could also help contribute to long-term peace in countries affected by conflict?

That is what the UN has put forward in its recent report, ‘Women and natural resources: unlocking the peace-building potential’.

The relationship between natural resources and conflict is a well-document one. Not only can natural resources drive or exacerbate conflict but they can remain a source of tension in post-conflict situations. (You need only look at the tensions oil caused between North and South Sudan after the countries separated.)

Women are often left out of the post-conflict negotiating process, and remain shut out of many decisions regarding natural resource management. Women still struggle to get a space at the table when extractive agreements concerning their community are being negotiated.

Yet including women in negotiations results in a longer lasting agreements. As the issues of natural resources and conflict are closely bound together, why not tackle the engagement of women in natural resource management and in a post-conflict setting at the same time?

As the report states, ‘Addressing issues of inequality related to resource access and ownership, participation and decision-making and benefit-sharing early on in the peacebuilding process is… a critical condition for lasting peace and development’.

It continues, ‘One of the unexplored entry points for strengthening women’s contributions to peace-building relates to the ways in which they use, manage, make decisions on and benefit from natural resources.’

The report provides an overview of the relationship between gender and natural resources in a peace-building context. It also offers various entry points for how to enhance women’s political participation, improve their protection and increase their opportunities for economic empowerment in this context.

Peppered with case studies, this report illustrates various roads to increasing the engagement of women. After all, as the foreword states, ‘Excluding women is clearly a missed opportunity’.

Read the report in full here. 

Photo is by jimmy brown on Flickr 

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