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close this bookDevelopment in Conflict - The Gender Dimension (Oxfam, 1994)
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View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsI. Development and conflict: The gender dimension
Open this folder and view contentsII. Case studies
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Foreword

This report arose out of a workshop entitled Development in conflict: the gender dimension, which was held by Oxfam's Action for Gender Relations in South East Asia (AGRA East) network for East Asia (AGRA East) in Pattaya, Thailand, from 1-4 February 1993. Around 30 participants attended, drawn from Oxfam UK/I's Asia and Middle East programme Oxfam House and members of the Gender and Development Unit), and from Oxfam's sister organisations in the region.

The purpose of the workshop was to consolidate work on gender and conflict which had been going on in Oxfam since 1988, but which had not been sufficiently integrated into the overall debate and research on conflict. It aimed to explore participants' own experience and expertise in working with women in conflict areas and to provide practice in the use of gender-sensitive methods of analysis and needs assessment. As such, the workshop was a groundbreaking experience, not only advancing the evolution of Oxfam's conceptual framework on conflict but also developing methodologies and practices which can be built on in future workshops.

In preparing the current report, the aim has not been to present a faithful record of the Pattaya workshop, but rather to reflect the spirit of the discussions in a form from which participants and others who were not there may be able to gain insights, and use in concrete ways. Some of the ideas discussed at the workshop have been further refined, and additional background material added. It is hoped that some of the material presented here will be seen as suitable for use in other workshops.

The report aims to be of interest to development workers (both in the field and in planning and policy positions) who are seeking practical and theoretical insights into problems they face in integrating a gender perspective into conflict-related work. In this respect the report has certain limitations.

Firstly, it assumes that readers are familiar with the Gender and Development approach, both as a framework for analysis and as a set of policy priorities in support of women. It does not argue the case for focusing primarily on women rather than on men, but aims to redress the imbalance in conflict work by which women's issues have tended to receive insufficient attention. As a result, women's suffering in times of war, as well as the contribution they make to their community's survival, has been unacknowledged, undervalued, and perhaps increased. In addition, lasting distortions in gender relations which may have long-term detrimental effects on a community may be underestimated.

Secondly, the report does not attempt a full analysis of armed conflict, which is a huge subject and quite beyond the scope of this paper. Though Part I presents an overview of the subject in order to place the rest of the discussion in context, this section does not pretend to provide a complete picture. It aims instead to complement work on development and conflict which has been emerging over the last few years, and to ensure that gender issues are centrally placed on conflict agendas.

In geographical terms, the main focus of the report is on South-East Asia, drawing as it does on the experience of workshop participants from the region. The report does, however, aim to have wide relevance. Experience from Africa and Central America has been integrated as a complement to the South-East Asian focus.

Part I of the report is divided into three sections: section 1 presents a tentative approach to understanding conflict in different Third World situations. Section 2 describes the impact of conflict on women and on gender relations at different levels of analysis. Section 3 discusses implications for NGO work, looking at research and planning tools, implementation, and training.

Part II consists of country-based case studies looking at different aspects of the question of gender and armed conflict: the impact of conflict on women's lives and identities and on gender relations, the evolution of appropriate NGO responses, and different approaches to working with partners.

Full details of the workshop, together with notes on exercises and on methodology, are available from Oxfam's Gender Team, for those wishing to replicate or adapt the Pattaya workshop.