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Windows of Opportunity: How women''s networks seize peace processes to advance feminist objectives

Miriam Anderson
Ryerson University
Miriam Anderson
Ryerson University
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper examines how transnational feminist networks have succeeded in using peace negotiations to advance women’s issues. First, the paper gives a brief overview of references to women in the 139 peace agreements signed between 1989 and 2005, demonstrating that the agreements that include references to wome all do so in international human rights language. Second, using field research from Burundi, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland, the paper identifies common strategies used by local, regional and international feminist advocates to involve women in peace processes and include their rights in peace agreements. The paper seeks to advance a new conception of peace processes as changes in opportunity structure, which international and local civil society seek to exploit. These actors’ objectives are to change women’s role in the state. The paper carefully charts the relationship between local, regional and international actors. It suggests that the activists at the local level as well as their counterparts in international donor agencies have been socialized to use common language, and seek women’s emancipation across peace processes. This is why women’s rights are framed in human rights languages in peace agreements worldwide. The paper also shows that the strategies for accessing the peace table and inserting women’s rights into the peace agreement are also similar across cases. Overall, the paper proposes a model for understanding the actors, their objectives and strategies in using peace talks to advance feminist objectives.