on the Frontline

On The Frontlines: Gender, War, And The Post-Conflict Process, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Dina Francesca Haynes and Naomi Cahn, Oxford University Press, £18.99, $29.95

In On The Frontlines: Gender, War, And The Post-Conflict Process, Aolain, Haynes and Cahn provide an accessible guide for practitioners to better understand the pervasiveness of gender insensitivity in post-conflict reconstruction. The authors address a wide range of processes from peacekeeping to legal reform and social justice, analyzing the detrimental effects of a lack of gender mainstreaming in each, and proposing ways in which gender analyses can be inserted, ameliorating some of these effects. For the authors, universal post-conflict reconstruction practices leave out the intricacies and dynamics of sex and age, thereby ignoring key stakeholders in the peace process. Categorizing women as victims of the conflict and grouping them alongside children, takes away their agency, disempowering them and leaving them voiceless when, in fact, they have unique perspectives and solutions that must be taken into account. Gender is about women and men, boys and girls, and each grouping has a different perspective from their location in the conflicted society’s structure. This means that, for example, rape must be prosecuted as a war crime, and that both men and women must be able to testify to rape and see justice delivered to their rapists. The authors also discuss the importation of deleterious gendered practices by the international community, oftentimes through peacekeepers coming from their own gender-stratified societies. The book is comprehensive and detailed, providing practical explanations for why gender awareness and sensitivity must be given voice if reconstruction is to be successful.