03 Jul 2014
Radhika Behuria, International Development Practitioner
Women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict and disaster. Photo: Benoit Almeras-Martino/UNDP DRC
"It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern wars." These are not the words of a woman who has faced the violence and ferocity of conflict, but words of Major General Patrick Cammaert, who served as the Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The nature of modern conflicts has changed: most casualties are now civilian, of which the most vulnerable are women. As witnesses and victims to conflict, they are overlooked as participants to peace processes. They are too often sidelined in dialogues and negotiations on peace and security, arenas still seen by much of the world as the domain of men, with the association of guns, money and power.
What is often disregarded is how much women know about conflict, and therefore how much they can contribute to peace. Women experience war differently than men. They are victims of sexual violence, often used as a systematic tool of war, which has lasting impact on their lives and the lives of their families and communities long after the war is over.
Women can bring new understanding of a conflict, and with it, insights into …