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Special Issue: Gender & Conflict

Special Issue: Gender & Conflict

It is our pleasure to introduce this Special Issue on Gender & Conflict

If there is a silver lining to the current political situation in the U.S., it is the way that polarization can bring latent conflict—in the form of extreme inequality and oppression—to the surface to be addressed. In 2018, one would hope that we would not still be living in a sexist, gender-unequal society (or a racist society, for that matter). But, whereas a few years ago, well-meaning people of all genders might have been able to overlook the ways in which gender (and racial) inequalities still permeate our daily existence, today it is difficult to do so any longer. The courageous revelations of hundreds of women across professions have exposed the insidious ways in which sexual assault and harassment still very much structure power dynamics in the workplace and beyond. Comparisons between world leaders about the size of their nuclear “buttons” have made evident how the desire to look more masculine assists in escalating international conflict. In other words, it is no longer possible to ignore the “work” gender does in politics—from the bedroom to the boardroom to the battlefield.

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For the text-only format of this issue’s analyses, please click on the titles below or visit our Analysis Catalog.

We realize that many of the terms and ideas in this special issue may be new to some of our readers. You will notice, therefore, that we have included a glossary at the beginning of the issue, and below, defining those potentially unfamiliar terms that show up frequently in the research analyses here.


  • Gender: the socially constructed categories of—and presumed differences between—women and men, as well as femininity and masculinity, often contrasted with “sex,” which is the biological difference between female and male bodies. More recently, gender has begun to be thought of less as a strict binary (women/men or feminine/masculine) and more as a fluid spectrum.
  • Gender norms: the social expectations and standards of behavior attached to being a woman or a man in a particular context, expressed as what is seen to epitomize so-called “masculine” or “feminine” behavior or characteristics.
  • Masculinity: the set of characteristics or behaviors widely understood to be associated with manhood in a particular context. This does not mean, of course, that all (or even most) men exhibit these characteristics/behaviors.
  • Femininity: the set of characteristics or behaviors widely understood to be associated with womanhood in a particular context. This does not mean, of course, that all (or even most) women exhibit these characteristics/behaviors.
  • Gender hierarchies: the privileging of masculinity and its associated traits over femininity and its associated traits, whether or not these traits are attached to actual women and men, such that actors or actions marked as “masculine” have greater access to power and/or are more favored and those marked as “feminine” are marginalized, denigrated, or excluded.
  • Patriarchy: an unequal social system where men and masculinity are highly valued and in a dominant position and women and femininity are devalued and in a subordinate position.
  • Feminism: a diverse social movement and body of thought that recognizes the persistence of gender hierarchies and oppression, resists patriarchy, and works towards gender equality and women’s emancipation. There are multiple disagreements among different strands of feminism about what constitutes gender oppression, as well as equality and emancipation.
  • Gender mainstreaming: “ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities—policy development, research, advocacy/dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation, and monitoring of programmes and projects.” (UN Women, “Gender Mainstreaming,”
  • UNSCR 1325: United Nations Security Council Resolution passed in October 2000, which calls on member states to incorporate a “gender perspective,” as well as to ensure full participation of women, in all aspects of UN peace and security efforts. As a UN Security Council resolution, it is binding on all UN member states. See full text of UNSCR 1325 here:
  • WPS agenda: the Women, Peace and Security agenda, defined by the following eight UN Security Council resolutions: 1325 (2000), 1820 (2009), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2010), 1960 (2011), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013), and 2242 (2015). Together they “guide work to promote gender equality and strengthen women’s participation, protection and rights across the conflict cycle, from conflict prevention through post-conflict reconstruction.” (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, “Why Women, Peace and Security,”
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