Protection Conference: Gender essentialisms in protection practices

Date/Time: 04/11/2013 - 05/11/2013  All Day

Location: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)

In recent years, women’s protection needs in war zones has been brought to the forefront of the international security agenda. It has become commonplace to argue that women and children constitute the most vulnerable civilian victims in armed conflict. The discourse is infused with gender essentialisms, portraying men as combatants and women and children as ‘innocent’ and ‘vulnerable’ in need of protection, particularly from acts of sexual violence.  How has this hierarchical construction of innocence and vulnerability affected or perhaps even undermined the actual “protection of civilians” by humanitarian and security actors on the ground? Are civilians increasingly distinguished from combatants according to who they are (gender/age) rather than what they are actually doing (civil/military)? Are gender norms operating in practice to contain the operations available to protection workers? How can humanitarian and security actors attend to women’s and men’s protection needs without reinforcing patriarchal gender relations or other intersecting hierarchies?

Program for Protection of Civilians (PoC) seminar in Bergen November 4 and 5 2013

 

For more information, please contact:

Liv Tønnessen <Liv.Tonnessen@cmi.no>

 

 

 

 

 

Program for Protection of Civilians (PoC) seminar in
Bergen November 4 and 5, 2013
Day 1: Gender Essentialisms in Protection Practices
In recent years, women’s protection needs in war zones has been brought to the forefront of
the international security agenda. It has become commonplace to argue that women and
children constitute the most vulnerable civilian victims in armed conflict. The discourse is
infused with gender essentialisms, portraying men as combatants and women and children
as ‘innocent’ and ‘vulnerable’ in need of protection, particularly from acts of sexual
violence. How has this hierarchical construction of innocence and vulnerability affected or
perhaps even undermined the actual “protection of civilians” by humanitarian and security
actors on the ground? Are civilians increasingly distinguished from combatants according to
who they are (gender/age) rather than what they are actually doing (civil/military)? Are
gender norms operating in practice to contain the operations available to protection
workers? How can humanitarian and security actors attend to women’s and men’s
protection needs without reinforcing patriarchal gender relations or other intersecting
hierarchies?
12.00 Coffee and a bite to eat
12.45 Welcome by Liv Tønnessen, senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute
(CMI)
13.00 Session 1: Key note speeches
Chair: Astri Suhrke, senior researcher at CMI
13.00 “From Social to Policy Construct: Redefining the Essential in Gender” Chris
Dolan, director of the Refugee Law Project (RLP), an autonomous community
outreach project of the Faculty of Law at Makerere University (40 minutes)
Questions and discussions (20 minutes)
14.00 “Force Projection/Civilian Protection: Gender and the Paradox of War
Norms” Charli Carpenter, Associate Professor in the Department of political
science at the University of Massachusetts‐Amherst (40 minutes)
Questions and discussions (20 minutes)

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