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Francis, Diana. 2010. From pacification to peacebuilding: A call to global transformation. London: Pluto Press.

Gender & Transformative Approaches to Peace

Postgraduate Module | Convenor: Sonia Garzon Ramirez
Academic year 2022–2023
Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University

Module Description

This module introduces students to transformative approaches to peace with a special emphasis on how gender perspectives within the field of IR have shaped this debate. In particular, we will explore how transitions to peace have been influenced by the recognition of conflict as an inherent/constitutive element of contemporary human societies and by the efforts of feminist and gender approaches to address structural inequalities not only of gender but also of race, ethnicity, and class.

The module builds on the premise that achieving more than just formal states of peace and ensuring the non-recurrence of violence is not possible without using gender lenses and addressing the root causes of violence. Thus, this course examines what gender perspectives might look like in peace projects and democratic transitions and considers factors that might enable transformative peace. We will critically analyse what has been achieved by the inclusion of gender perspectives and their implementation in practice and how the deferral of gender justice in reconciliation projects has undermined the possibilities of peace being transformative.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Identify what conditions would enable a peace project to bring about transformative peace
  • Discuss about the main contributions of feminist and gender scholars to the advancement of transformative approaches to peace
  • Illustrate how the inclusion of analysis of gender, race/ethnicity, class, locations or other power differentials in peacebuilding might enhance the possibilities of a peace project to address the causes of violence
  • Demonstrate, through their participation in the seminars and writing assignments (reflective journal and essay), creativity and ability to develop critical analysis involving concepts or ideas presented in the readings and providing adequate data to support their arguments and claims
  • Evaluate the achievements or shortcomings of the Gender, Peace and Security agenda in peacebuilding in general or with reference to case-specific reconciliation processes.

Module Syllabus




Topic 1: Introduction to the Module

Situating Gender in Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation

Seminar 1

Theme 1: Situating Gender in Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation

  1. Gender Relations, Violence and Conflict Transformation - Cilja Harders (Essential)
  • Gender, War, and the Search for Peaceful Coexistence - Diana Francis (Further reading)
  • From Women and War to Gender and Conflict? Feminist Trajectories - Dubravka Zarkov (Further reading)
  • Gender Identity and Expression - Dianne Otto (Further reading)

Topic 2: The Gender of Reconciliation

Seminar 2

Theme 2.1: From Conflict Resolution to Conflict Transformation

  1. How Should We Explain the Recurrence of Violent Conflict, and What Might Gender Have to Do with It? - Judy El-Bushra (Essential)
  2. Can We Reconcile? Understanding the Multi-level Challenges of Conflict Transformation - Sarah Maddison (Essential)
  • Conceptualizing Reconciliation - Sarah Maddison (Further reading)
  • Endurance and the Signature of Peace - Adrian Little (Further reading)

Seminar 3

Theme 2.2: Gender and Transformative Reparations

  1. Introduction: Reflections on the Concept and Implementation of Transformative Reparations - Rashida Manjoo (Essential)
  2. The Gender Injustice Cascade: ‘Transformative’ Reparations for Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes in the Lubanga Case at the International Criminal Court - Louise Chappell (Essential)
  • The Politics of Difference in Transitional Justice: Genocide and the Construction of Victimhood at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal - Julie Bernath (Further reading)
  • Gender and Public Apology - Alice MacLachlan (Further reading)
  • Leaving Behind the Age of Impunity - Andrea Durbach & Louise Chappell (Further reading)

Topic 3: Gender and Transformative Peace

Seminar 4

Theme 3.1: Women, Gender & Transformative Approaches on Peace and Conflict Transition

  1. Transformative Gender Justice: Setting an Agenda - Jelke Boesten & Polly Wilding (Essential)
  • Transforming Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Principles and Practice - Fionnuala Ní Aoláin et al. (Further reading)
  • Foreword: Special Issue on ‘Transformative Reparations for Sexual Violence Post-Conflict: Prospects and Problems’ - Andrea Durbach et al. (Further reading)

Seminar 5

Theme 3.2: What does Gender Perspective in Peacebuilding Mean?

  1. Principled Pragmatism and the ‘Inclusion Project’: Implementing a Gender Perspective in Peace Agreements - Christine Bell (Essential)
  • Walk[ing] the Halls of Power: Understanding Women's Participation in International Peace and Security - Catherine O'Rourke (Further reading)
  • International Gender Equality Norms and their Fragmented Protection in Conflict - Catherine O'Rourke (Further reading)
  • Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations and the Durability of Peace -  Jana Krause et al. (Further reading)

Topic 4: Resistance and Common Sense in Transitions to Peace 

Seminar 6

Theme 4.1: Readings of Resistance in Transitions to Peace

  1. Adopting a Resistance Lens: An Exploration of Power and Legitimacy in Transitional Justice - Julie Bernath & Sandra Rubli (Essential)
  2. Gender Panic and the Failure of a Peace Agreement - Lina Céspedes-Báez (Essential)
  • Introduction: Rethinking Resistance to Transitional Justice - Briony Jones & Thomas Brudholm (Further reading)
  • Reflections on a Research Agenda for Exploring Resistance to Transitional Justice - Briony Jones (Further reading)
  • Reading the 'Uncivil' in Civil Society Resistance to Transitional Justice in Côte d’Ivoire - Briony Jones & Dit Fatogoma Adou Djané (Further reading)

Seminar 7

Theme 4.2: The Problem of Time in Conflict Transformation

  1. The Problem of Time - Sarah Maddison (Essential)
  • Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution - Adrian Little (Further reading)

Topic 5: The Gender of International Law and Peace Agreements

Seminar 8

Theme 5: The Gender of International Law and Peace Agreements

  1. National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security as Tools of Foreign Policy: Reconsidering Gender Security in the West - Sahla Aroussi (Essential)
  2. Barriers to Women’s Progress After Atrocity: Evidence from Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina - Marie E. Berry (Essential)
  • Reconceptualizing Gender, Reinscribing Racial–Sexual Boundaries in International Security: The Case of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security” - Nicola Pratt (Further reading)
  • Guarantees of Non-Recurrence of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Women after the Khmer Rouge - Sotheary YOU (Further reading)
  • Women's Rights After War: On Gender Interventions and Enduring Hierarchies - Marie E. Berry & Milli Lake (Further reading)

Topic 6: Transformative Peace and Its Enablers

Seminar 9

Theme 6.1: Queering Gender Identity in Conflict Transitions

  1. Queering Gender [Identity] in International Law - Dianne Otto (Essential)
  • The Struggle for Gendered Peace and LGBT Rights in Colombia - Anika Oettler (Further reading)
  • The Construction of Masculinity as a Motivator for War - Diana Francis (Further reading)
  • Queer Our Vision of Security - Cai Wilkinson (Further reading)

Seminar 10

Theme 6.2: Agonism and Narrative Approaches

  1. Mapping the Horizon of Transformative Peace - Sonia Garzon-Ramirez (Essential)
  • Agonism and the Politics of Disagreement & Rhetorics of Peace and Transition - Adrian Little (Further reading)
  • Dusting Off the Law Books: Recognizing Gender Persecution in Conflicts and Atrocities - Lisa Davis (Further reading)

Seminar 11

Theme 6.3: Feminist Organising for Ending War

  1. What is Feminist Peace? - Catia Confortini (Essential)
  • Feminist Organishing for Peace - Sarai Aharoni (Further reading)

Agonistic Peace

Forgiveness, Truth and Justice

Can peacebuilding institutions contribute to the establishment of sustainable peace while they elude or exclude people and population groups who resist the signature of a peace accord or seek to subvert its implementation? Words like deviance, incivility or abnormality might come to the mind of people seeking to understand how to deal with those who resist to engage in a peacebuilding process or who actively undermine efforts to establish peacebuilding settlements. However, studies have shown that not all those who resist a peace process actually seek to destroy it but rather try to shape the terms of the agreement.


Waiting for the disappeared
Can we trace a clear line between victims and perpetrators? Shall we presume that a peace reflected in a peace agreement embodies a universal good? Shall the victims of grave human rights violations share similar understandings of reparation and forgiveness?
These dilemmas touch upon the difficulties of using impermeable categories and binary divisions in dealing with massive human rights violations during conflict and democratic transitions. Similar concerns were raised by feminist legal scholar Kimberly Crenshaw when she introduced in the 1980s the notion of intersectionality.