Human Security: The Missing Link Between Women’s Rights, Conflict, and Peace

What is human security? Over the years, the notion of security has been narrowly categorized as a comparison to our own environments. It has mistakenly been used as a defining line to separate nations, rather than as a means to collaboratively address the issue on a global platform.

In the forum labeled, “Human Security: The Missing Link Between Women’s Rights, Conflict, and Peace,” five panelists known as Jacqueline Pitanguy, Brigid Inder, Asma Khader, Arua Rao and Madeleine Rees, define human security to encompass all nations, including three important elements: peace, justice and human rights.
Nearly one in four individuals worldwide currently live in fragile or collapsed states, while twenty percent of women experience violence on an everyday basis. Security has become a disjointed piece of society in nearly every corner of the world. As a result, women have been left to live their lives in increased vulnerability and fear.
One of the most prevalent forms of insecurity is rape. Rape is an effective form of criminal weaponry because it fragments societal standards and sexual limitations in the respect of a woman. Not only horrific, rape is a symbolic justification of male-dominance and reinforced gender inequality in the constructs of society.

Another form of insecurity is one that has emerged only recently. This is known as political violence. Political violence is used as a weapon of extreme humiliation in public demonstrations. The most frequent example we have seen of this form has been in the MENA region, where women have been beaten and sexually harassed in the streets while protesting alongside their male counterparts. This is known to take place in groups, where gangs of men will target a woman alone and explicitly violate her in front of a large crowd.

Although it is important to address these types of violence from an international standpoint, it is equally important to understand a woman’s daily battle in the context of her own community. Transferring these issues to a grassroots approach can help to address solutions rationally, while respecting the cultural guidelines and sovereignty of each state. This is critical not only to maintain balance, but to preserve security on all accords.

Gandhi once said “Be the chance you wish to see in the world.”
So what is the vision we wish to see for our future? Societies have engrained a self-constructed view of women as inferior and vulnerable, yet this is not reason to believe this mentality should remain permanent.

Referring to UNI’s “Breaking the Silence” campaign, it is important to understand what causes women to be labeled as inferior members of society, and to transform these perceptions. To do so, individuals must believe that they have the power to shift societal norms that perpetuate male-dominant societies. This can be accomplished by encouraging women into higher leadership roles, promoting women’s rights, and building community to push for what is politically binding, legally correct, and morally necessary.
For without security for women and girls, there can be no peace. And if there is no peace, there can be no development.

Written By: Stephanie Nelson Date: March 17, 2013