Research for policy and practice

ESRC-DFID research for policy and practice: women and conflict

Photo (cropped): Making fishing nets as part of a co-operative. Photo credit: Russell Watkins/DFID/Flickr under license CC BY 2.0

Conflict affects women and men differently, and it can alter women’s economic and political roles in society. However, changes in women’s economic and political status and roles during times of conflict do not necessarily lead to long-lasting shifts.

This collection of ESRC-DFID-funded research explores social norms, economic empowerment and women’s political participation in fragile and conflict-affected states, including Jordan, Pakistan and Somaliland. In rural Pakistan early marriage has a range of damaging consequences for women and girls, including a risk of domestic violence and the possibility that they will drop out of school.

Research has revealed that in virtually all households, fathers had the final say in matters of marriage. However, ‘edutainment’ interventions targeted at men are showing potential for shifting the social norms which support early marriage.

In Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, attempts by female refugees to achieve economic stability through entrepreneurship are hampered by a lack of support from aid agencies whilst evidence indicates that supporting entrepreneurship efforts helps to alleviate their poverty. In Somaliland, society is changing from pastoralist systems to a more settled, urban way of life, with women prominent among small business owners, but they find it difficult to scale up their enterprises, and they are excluded from leadership roles in both politics and business.

The value of the insights provided by this research is partly rooted in the interdisciplinary partnerships upon which they are based.

In the Middle East, researchers are reaching out to policymakers through roundtable stakeholder discussions and via a change campaign run jointly with their partners. It is essential to work with beneficiaries, partners and stakeholders in a collaborative way in order to understand complexity and create policies that will lead to sustainable futures.

Key messages highlight: micro-entrepreneurship as a route out of poverty for long-term refugee women; targeting men and boys to address inequitable gender and social norms; conflict and climate change are key factors in the acceleration of urbanisation - in some cases this has deprived pastoralist women of some of the opportunities they had for political participation without creating new ones.

This paper is a resource for international development and gender professionals, practitioners, funders and researchers interested in: gender and development; research evidence or research impact on women and conflict; women, conflict and politics, political participation and leadership; women, conflict and economic stability; women conflict and work; refugee women and work; and pastoralist women, work and urbanisation. 

 

 

Focus projects: 

Photograph of a woman in Hargeisa, Somaliland
Recent research recognises the importance of political settlements in determining the equitability of development and societal stability. This research on political settlements analyses the different roles that women and men play in determining a given settlement.
Contemporary political volatility within the Middle East region has led to far reaching socio-economic upheaval and strife with a devastating impact generating mass displacement of Iraqi, Palestinian, and Syrian refugees to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey (UNCHR, 2014). In their host nations, these displaced communities seek to reconstruct their lives in a context of loss, poverty, violence and devastation (Kuttab, 2008; Chatty, 2010).
Domestic violence (DV) affects 30% of women worldwide and more than 50% of women living in conflict or post-conflict communities. The prevention of DV is important, not only because it is a violation of women's rights and freedoms, but also because DV negatively affects economic growth and perpetuates structural poverty.