Gender inequality and violence

This is a resource site for people looking for information about the relationship between gender equality, norms on gender roles, including masculinities, and violence at all levels in society. Lately I’ve come to include the topics of gender inequality, discrimination as well as gender and environment and climate change. There are two reasons I made this site. First, to encourage more people to take an interest in these issues. Second, to assist those who are interested in these topics in finding material and information.

Research initiated some twenty years ago showed strong relationships between the ratio of women in parliament, the duration of female suffrage, the ratio of women in the labor force and fertility rates, all indicators of gender equality, and armed conflict and human rights abuse. States that had higher levels of gender equality in these fields were much less likely to experience both civil war and armed conflicts with other countries than those with lower levels of equality. The states with higher levels of gender equality further had much lower rates of human rights abuse and corruption than states with lower levels. Later research has found that the single best predictor of levels of violence in a society is the level of women’s physical security – an indicator of gender equality.

While the correlation is clear, strong and statistically significant the causality is not scientifically proved – yet. Essentialist explanations, i.e. that women are inherently more peaceful than men due to their reproductive capacity and that more women in decision-making thus would lead to less war and conflict, has been largely refuted by the research. Today the predominant theory is a constructivist one, stating that gender roles are socio-cultural constructs and further that norms on gender roles and gender equality are connected to norms on violence and the use thereof. Research on masculinities has found that traditional norms on masculinity – what it means to be a real man – are connected to both norms justifying violence and aggressive and violent behavior. Research on honor cultures, a phenomenon occurring not only in the Islamic world as many think – for instance extensive research has been done on the honor culture in the American South, has connected patriarchal norms on control over women, their bodies and sexuality with norms endorsing the use of violence to set right perceived wrongdoings. Yet other research suggest that structural inequalities, including gender inequalities, are to be seen as structural violence, which can be related to physical violence. Furthermore, gender inequalities are being perpetuated with the help of cultural violence, i.e. religion, traditions, language etc.

Having a gender perspective on about every aspect of life and society changes they ways we do things and do not only benefit those people who are usually at a disadvantage but also the environment. Incorporating a gender perspective when working on countering climate change and pollution, safe guarding bio-diversity and promoting sustainability has proven to be effective on local levels. This work has to be scaled up though to have a global effect.

This site is divided into categories, first when it comes to the type of information: journal articles, books and events. These categories are in turn divided into sub-categories related to topics. If you don’t find a topic you are looking for please search related topics. For instance, topics related to so-called honor cultures and religion can be found in the sub-category structural and cultural violence.

This site is constantly evolving, with new information being added all the time. Please check it regularly!

Finally, should you want to add something, make a comment or ask a question, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

1 Comment

  1. Liesbeth van der Hoogte says:

    I could not agree more with this introduction. What an excellent contribution to the field of conflict transformation and gender equality, to challenge the trend of isolated strategies and views. The concepts of structural and cultural violence are so essential for our analysis and effective strategies for social change, including differentiating women’s positions due to other identities and social positions.

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