Women and Peacebuilding Can Help Reduce Poverty


SEATTLE, Washington — Violent conflict had been on the rise even before the onset of the pandemic. Fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) have already caused much suffering and have the potential to bring about more pain. However, women and peacebuilding can help reduce conflict and poverty.

New World Bank projected that the current trajectory will force “up to two-thirds of the extreme poor worldwide” into living in conflict-driven situations by 2030. In 2016, the world had the highest number of countries facing violent conflict in 30 years. The consequences have been grim: Afghanistan, for example, has almost the same level of per capita income that it had in the 1970s. Adding in the effects of the pandemic and climate change, millions of more people in countries that are affected by FCV will face poverty by 2030. Ironically, 2030 is the year by which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are set for accomplishment.

FCV and Poverty

The nature of conflict has changed, according to Susana Malcorra, Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs. Malcorra spoke with The Borgen Project regarding the importance of women and peacebuilding. She believes that there has been an uptick in intra-state armed conflict and a downshift in inter-state. Non-state actors play a larger role whether as fighters or as NGOs. These conflicts spilling over into neighboring countries. They can be transnational because they are linked to illicit financing and crime.

Drivers of FCV are often tied to poverty. Furthermore, FCV worsens the lives of those who are already impoverished. As for the former, FCS countries only receive around 1% “of global foreign direct investment (FDI).” This reduces the possibility of people escaping poverty. For the latter, violence can lead to the deaths of those able to earn a wage and provide for family members. It can damage infrastructure, lead to higher levels of unemployment and reduce spending on public goods.

Women and Conflict

Women are affected by conflict, and therefore, need to have a voice in mitigating that conflict. Women are an essential component for lowering violence. Countries with at least 40 % of women in the workforce are less likely to experience internal conflict. In fact, countries with only 10% of women in the workforce are “nearly 30 times more likely to experience internal conflict.”

Women and peacebuilding are essential parts of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The inclusion of women in the peacebuilding process increases the probability that an agreement will be longer-lasting. In fact, with women as part of the process, there is a 35% increase in the probability of an agreement lasting 15 years or more.

Malcorra has been one great woman peacebuilder. She was the head of the Department of Field Support – Peace Operations and then became the chief of staff for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Women and girls in Arabic-speaking countries have been part of the change, reducing gender inequality, which is tied to violence. One woman, Wafa Hamoudi, is now a mediator who is part of a program that focuses area includes poverty eradication. She helps Yemeni women find their voices and opens the eyes of the men in her community. Women are essential players, and peacebuilding is an essential activity.

Education and Conflict Prevention

Search for Common Ground is the world’s largest organization dedicated to peacebuilding. The organization believes, “conflict is inevitable, violence is not.” People need to be educated on how to resolve conflicts peacefully and/or be aware of the importance of doing so. One warning sign for conflict is a decrease in the number of girls who go to school. Malcorra tied in the investment in youth, particularly in girls, with consolidating Agenda 2030 (like the SDGs) and making a difference in the future.

Possibly of utmost importance to peacebuilding is conflict prevention, a concept that has been central to U.N. policies with regard to peacebuilding since the 1992 launch of the U.N. Agenda for Peace. Women and peacebuilding must occur at international, national and local levels to address FCV. Actors include people from those levels as well as those behind FCV and those affected by them.

Kylar Cade
Photo: Flickr


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