New Social Compact
Call for Action from Leaders and Business on Violence against Women
Spiralling levels of violence against women in Africa require immediate action from governments and businesses, including tangible measures to create safe spaces, experts from across the continent told the World Economic Forum on Africa today.
Protesters in South Africa have taken to the streets and social media to demand action, following the rape and murder of a Cape Town university student who was attacked in a post office. Uyinene Mrwetyana was just the latest of many victims of brutal assaults in a region where approximately 45% of women and girls over 14 years have experienced physical or sexual violence.
“I’m dumbfounded by the idea that we can continue with business as usual,” said Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director of African Monitor, who urged technology companies to take a lead in delivering solutions. “It would take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa free of charge.”
The potential for technology to help in the fightback highlights the need for businesses to think creatively, given that cyberbullying can also contribute to discrimination in the first place. Mniki-Mangaliso said the wider business community should also step up to the plate by backing a gender-based fund to address the deep-rooted problems behind the rising tide of physical and sexual assaults.
Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women in Africa Initiative, said Africa could learn from China, where decisive action was taken to ban harmful practices like foot binding and polygamy. African governments, by contrast, too often fail to enforce bans on polygamy or genital mutilation, thereby reinforcing a culture of discrimination against women that becomes embedded from childhood.
The failure to protect women is not just a moral issue; it also comes with a high economic cost. “Who drives African communities? It’s our women. Our women can drive Africa’s development, if given the chance, if protected, if their rights are respected,” Abiola-Costello said. “Africa missed the first industrial revolution, we missed the second, we missed the third. If we don’t address this issue, we will miss the fourth.”
Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, who spearheaded the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria and is a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy, said calls for women to help drive African development will simply ring hollow if violence is not addressed. “The world lacks the moral pedestal to stand on to ask girls to aspire if we cannot have the back of those who are vulnerable,” she said.
With 16,000 deaths due violence against in women every year in South Africa alone, Akudo Anyanwu, Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins University, said: “Our presidents and the leaders in government need to come out and take a position. We need to have our leaders come out and call crimes a crime.”
New Social Compact
Access to Education and its Impacts on Social and Economic Justice
The need for access to education is more vital than ever before, with a generation interconnected in a way never previously imagined. And yet, the modern world is still seeing concerning numbers of children, meaning a person below the age of 18, who are not getting access to this necessary development tool.
The right to education has been recognised as a basic human right and fundamental freedom in various International Instruments and Conventions. These include, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which makes elaborate provisions regarding human right to education. Yet statistics are showing that not many children are getting access to these rights.
Data collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) found that in 2019, only 84% of children were completing their primary school education, with that number dropping to 71% of students completing their high school education. Whilst continents such as Europe, Northern America, and Oceania, which are highly comprised of first world countries, are demonstrating high percentage of education rates, what’s alarming is the statistics surrounding less developed parts of the world, such as the sub-Saharan region of Africa, with 63% completing their primary school education, and only 38% of students completing their high school education.
How do these statistics connect to the desire for social and economic justice in everyday life?
When people can access the necessary education, they are more likely able to understand their rights and responsibilities. Individuals are also better equipped with the knowledge and tools that are required to participate in the social and economic systems of their respective societies.
The contribution of higher education to social justice suggests that higher education distribution should be fair and based on the individual and societal benefits and values it produces once attained. There are many individual benefits to this model. These individual benefits can include social mobility, higher income compared to those of lower qualifications, and improved health.
And the social benefits are vast, and can lead to less crime, greater democratic participation, heightened climate awareness. The focus on social justice in higher education is not simply to do with economic gains, skill enhancement and development. It is also focused on critical reflexivity as well as developing inclusive, equitable and ethical practices in an inclusive, participatory, redistributive, and transformative framework; many factors that will push the agenda of societal progress through the masses.
Similarly, there is a strong link between education and training levels and a nation’s economy. Using the Sub-Saharan region of the world once again, research was conducted regarding the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the employment rates in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda. This research, conducted and published by the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study, found a negative correlation between education level and the likelihood of being jobless during the pandemic. Their studies found that “The least educated are 4 to 7 percentage points more likely to be jobless after one year into the pandemic, than those with primary or higher education.”
Acknowledging the percentage of individuals completing their primary school education, only 63% are completing their primary school education. Consequently, 37% of the population would have been disadvantaged from being employed one year into the pandemic, if the 2019 statistics were applied. This places significant pressure on the economy to support the unemployed, which in many cases, they struggle to do. This was demonstrated by Sub-Saharan Africa’s’ ability to respond to COVID-19 with fiscal measures compared to the emerging market economies as well as advanced economies.
Education further promotes participatory justice by teaching the necessary skills in order to help people engage with economic and social systems. Known as human capital, the economic value of a worker’s experience and skills is tremendous. Education can help individuals understand financial concepts, such as budgeting and investment, and can help them develop the skills they need to navigate the job market and negotiate fair wages and working conditions.
Education can also promote participatory justice by providing individuals with the tools they need to advocate for their rights and to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. This includes developing critical thinking and communication skills, as well as understanding how to access and utilise resources and support networks. In Australia, for instance, all citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote (with certain exceptions).
If citizens have not only just have the required knowledge, but the skill set to understand new propositions and developments within their country, people are more likely to have societies that reflect the desires of a larger range of educated individuals.
Moreover, education can also promote social mobility, meaning the change to one’s socio-economic situation, which can lead to greater economic and social participation for individuals and communities. According to Oliinyk, et. al, (2021) “found that the migration of workers with higher education has a significant impact on strengthening the competitiveness and economic development of countries’, which leads to a better standard of living. By providing people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the labour market, education can help break the cycle of poverty and inequality that often limits social and economic mobility.
For instance, economically, through education, individuals are likely more capable of starting and running a business, obtaining a higher-paying job, or having the financial literacy and ability to invest in assets such as stocks or property. Socially, they can better involve themselves in dialogue regarding their country’s socio-cultural and political-legal environment, increasing their ability to use their voice for change. According to an article written by Jill Suttie (2020), it suggests that social and economic justice in your country play a large role in your overall happiness. In her article, she touches on research conducted by Salvatore Di Martino and Isaac Prilleltensky, which argues that “It’s likely that countries that enjoy a good level of social justice will be less discriminatory toward migrants, asylum seekers, or other strangers”, stating the reasons for economic prosperity of countries where social justice is stronger embedded in economic development.
Access to education is critical in promoting participatory justice in the economic and social sphere of everyday life. Education provides individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate economic and social systems, advocate for their rights, and participate fully in decision-making processes.
Additionally, education can also promote social mobility, which can lead to greater economic and social participation for individuals and communities.
This article is an excerpt of the talk given at the “Mutual Prosperity – Rethinking our Economic Models” summit, organised by the UPF, the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP) and the International Association for Peace and Economic Development. Four panellists took the floor: Alan Jensen, Dr Katherine Trebeck, Michael D. Greaney, and Hana Kolar (on behalf of professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic). The summit was moderated by Dr Jennifer Ji Huang.
Alan Jensen and Michael D Greaney focused on the principle of interdependence and economic democracy and introduced a new economic paradigm to provide universal capital ownership through changes to finance, banking, and tax laws.
Dr Katherine Trebeck focused on the necessity to rethink current economic models to better serve humanity. She spoke on ways that economies would have to approach, design and deliver in order to create serious change in this era of polycrisis, and the benefits of overall restructure.
Prof. Anis’ Hana Kolar’s presentation focused on how access to education is critical in promoting participatory justice in the economic and social sphere of everyday life. Through understanding the immense benefits that education brings on a social and economic stand front, she stated the necessity that societies ensure that children have access to this fundamental tool.
New Social Compact
George Orwell, The Animal Farm – Book Review
Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) wrote one of the finest classic political satires, “The Animal Farm”. It was published in England on 17th August 1945. George Orwell was a leftist and a staunch Democratic Socialist who often expressed his strong outlook through his intellectual engagements. He was an English novelist, journalist, and critic who was more propended towards the awareness of social justice and opposition to totalitarianism and communism. He is best known for his dystopian works of fiction; however, his writings also extend to many other topics and genres. Moreover, Orwell’s writing is often characterized by its critical nature, especially when it comes to politics, social justice, and language. His works often focus on the nature and power of totalitarianism, socialism, imperialism, oppression, and propaganda. His works are also seen as a critique of the status quo and a call to action for social and political change. According to various sources, the Spanish Civil War and the great number of tensions between the British and Indian populations greatly swayed Orwell’s perception which came out in the form of animosity towards communism and totalitarianism that one can easily discern in his masterpiece, The Animal Farm. Among his recognized publications, other than Animal farm, include Burmese Days (1934), The Lion and Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius (1941), and Ninety Eighty-Four (1949).
This publication, The Animal Farm, is allegorical which makes it an intriguing read which subtly projects the message of the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s Communist Russia. The novel represents the realistic outlook of the revolutions and changing systems and regimes. Historically, all the revolutions in the past had some utopian goals; however, the majority of revolutions failed to achieve the utopian goals they had been seeking. Therefore, Orwell begins writing this novel as a utopian story that rather ended up as dystopian fiction and the entire novella revolves around the most famous line from this book, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” (pg. 90) which depicts the dismal side of the revolution that revolution merely replaces existing hierarchy with the another rather than eliminating the morbid system of the society. Therefore, author has tried to portray the hypocrisy and the phoniness of the Soviet Union and its politicians in the context of animals. Further, author had tried to put in light the oppressions of the working class and burgeoning inequality in Communist Russia by correlating to the oppressed animals in the Animal Farm. It is a parody of the dictatorship and of the Soviet political regime. This fact was confirmed by Orwell himself. He described the main focus of the book in a letter to his agent Leonard Moore in 1946: “If they question you again, please say that Animal Farm is intended as a satire on dictatorship in general but of course the Russian Revolution is the chief target. It is humbug to pretend anything else”.[i]
The novel has been widely debated and interpreted in different ways. One argument in favor of the novel is that it serves as a powerful commentary on the dangers of totalitarianism and the corrupting nature of power that is evident in the character of Napoleon, who, as the leader of the farm, becomes increasingly tyrannical and oppressive towards the other animals. As Lord Acton supports this argument in his famously stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.[ii] This statement is exemplified in Napoleon’s or generally in pigs’ actions, as they become increasingly ruthless and oppressive as they gain more power. This corrupting nature of power and dangers of totalitarianism is further confirmed by the author, Aldous Huxley. He states, “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude”.[iii] This statement is still relevant today, as totalitarian regimes continue to exist around the world and the potential for abuse of power remains a constant threat.
Another argument in favor of Animal Farm is its ability to highlight the importance of freedom, democracy, and individuality. As author Toni Morrison writes in her book The Origin of Others, “Democracy demands of us that we be informed and make conscious choices.”[iv] Animal Farm illustrates how democracy is essential for the protection of individual freedom and the prevention of oppression. The novel shows that when the animals are able to democratically make decisions, they are able to create a society where everyone is treated equally and with respect. This is also highlighted in the following quote from John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”: “The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.”[v] This quote emphasizes the importance of allowing individuals to think and act for themselves, rather than being controlled by a dictator. In Animal Farm, the animals are initially excited about their newfound freedom and the possibility of creating a better society. However, as the pigs become more and more oppressive, the other animals begin to lose their freedom and individuality.
However, there also exists some arguments that goes against this Fable that other authors have debunked in their writings. For instances, in “An Experiment in Criticism,” CS Lewis argues that the animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm are not fully developed and are instead used solely as vehicles for Orwell’s political message. He states that “the animals are not really characters at all, but mere allegorical figures, each representing a particular class or group in society.”[vi] Lewis goes on to say that while Orwell’s political message is powerful and important, the lack of fully developed characters detracts from the overall impact of the novel and reduces it to a “polemical tract.” Therefore, this lack of complexity and nuance makes the book less effective as a work of literature. Another critique that has been made is that the novel is too political in nature. In his book “The Art of Fiction,” author David Lodge argues that a political novel should not be didactic and should instead leave room for the reader to make their own judgments.[vii] He argues that Animal Farm is too heavy-handed in its political message and does not leave enough room for the reader to form their own opinions. Another critique that has been made is that the novel is too allegorical in its approach. In his book “The Allegory of the Cave,” author Plato argues that allegory is a limited form of representation because it only presents one possible interpretation of reality and that true understanding can only be achieved by breaking free from the constraints of the allegory and experiencing the world directly.[viii] He argues that this can lead to a lack of nuance and understanding of the complexities of real-world political events. One of the most prominent criticisms of Animal Farm comes from the philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who argues that the novel fails to capture the nuances of totalitarianism and the role of individuals in such systems. In her book, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Arendt notes that Orwell’s portrayal of the pigs as the sole villains of the story ignores the fact that totalitarian systems are often the result of the actions and choices of many individuals, not just a single group.[ix]
The author, George Orwell, begins writing by showing a farm, Manor Farm, owned by Mr. Jones – a tyrant, cruel, and apathetic living creature – where he had numerous animals. Within those animals, an Old Boar (Old Major) calls for a secret meeting at night where he instigated his dream for the need of revolution to live free, happy, and balanced life. Soon after his death, all animals; pigs, dogs, cows, sheep, hens, etc. worked to revolt against the Mr. Jones. Finally, the revolution took place and Mr. Jones was defenestrated and the Manor farm was changed to Animal Farm. Two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, emerged out as prominent characters in this revolution and headed the affairs of Animal Farm afterwards. Days passed, every animal was passionately playing its respective role in the farm and soon after, Mr. Jones attacked the farm to reassert his dominance over the farm. A battle, which was recalled as Battled of Cowshed, stirred up and went into the favor of animals.
In the Meanwhile, Snowball came with an idea to build windmill, that could alleviate the workload of animals and generate more profit, to which Napoleon was not happy and mindsets began to contradict. During the meeting, Napoleon ordered the dogs – puppies that he had hidden earlier – to chase Napoleon out of the farm. Moreover, he proclaimed himself a leader of the farm and declared Snowball a traitor. Later on, Napoleon takes the credit of the windmill. For a year, the animals, especially Boxer (cart-horse), worked tirelessly to build the windmill. Unfortunately, the storm destroyed the windmill and Napoleon used this opportunity and blamed Snowball for its collapse. Moreover, after this collapse, Napoleon tightened and washed out those animals that were questioning or disheartened by Napoleon’s power. However, Boxer had a stern believe over Napoleon and always chanted the slogan “Napoleon is always right” (pg. 42).
As this satirical novella reached interval, Napoleon had started behaving more like human being, forgoing the fundamentals of Animalism like sleeping in bed, wearing clothes, consuming whisky, and engaging in trade with neighboring farmers. In the meanwhile, life became stringent for other animals and Boxer injured himself while working laboriously to reconstruct the windmill. Pigs deceived other animals that Boxer is taken away for the treatment however, they were too late to realize that he’s being carried away to the knacker’s yard to get slaughtered. In the meantime, Squealer, another pig who was Napoleon’s Propagandist, would justify every illicit action of Napoleon and convince everyone on the statesmanship of the Napoleon despite their sufferings and overburdening.
As the climax part arrives, the positive aspect of the revolution is nowhere to be seen and all the promises made before the revolution to animals entirely vanished. The class seems to be divided into two, the pigs, which dominated the farm, and other animals, which were working tirelessly with no rewards promised. Gradually, the bond between the human beings and the pigs was getting stronger and there remained no difference between the two. Moreover, Napoleon had invited Mr. Pilkington – a human farmer – to the animal farm and agreed to work together. Eventually, principles of animalism were made succinct that states: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” (pg. 90). Further, the Animal Farm was retitled as the Manor Farm and all the other animals outside gazed the bloated faces of pigs and human beings. In words of Orwell, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which” (pg. 95).
In this publication, Orwell has tried to dichotomize the structure of classes in the context of animals that how the lower classes are suppressed when they are uneducated and naive by the one who’re educated and have commendable intellect. Therefore, the pigs, who are intelligent, use their intelligence only to exploit other animals rather giving them a better life. Thus, the difference in status between the pigs and other animals created inequality and shifted the whole power towards the pigs. Thus, reflected a notion that desire for power leads to corruption and the revolutionary leaders become as corrupt and incompetent as the government they overthrew.
Analysis on Characters presented in Animal Farm:
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the characters represent different elements of society and human nature.
Napoleon represents Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union. He is a pig who becomes the leader of Animal Farm after the rebellion and gradually becomes more and more tyrannical, using propaganda and manipulation to maintain power. He becomes more interested in maintaining his own power and wealth than in the well-being of the other animals. He also represents the corrupt nature of those in power, as seen in other works such as Lord Acton’s quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.[x]
Snowball represents Leon Trotsky, a communist revolutionary and leader in the Soviet Union who was exiled by Stalin. He is a pig who is initially a leader in the rebellion and works alongside Napoleon, but is eventually driven out by Napoleon’s manipulation and lies. He represents the idea of a true communist leader who is dedicated to the well-being of all animals, but is ultimately betrayed by those in power. This concept can be seen in works such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, where the character of Gatsby is initially seen as a hero but is ultimately betrayed by those in power.[xi]
Boxer represents the working class, who are strong and dedicated but ultimately exploited by those in power. Boxer is a horse who also represents the idea of “Useful idiot” as he is a loyal supporter of the rebellion and works tirelessly to improve Animal Farm, but is eventually sent to the knacker’s to be slaughtered when he is no longer useful to Napoleon. Boxer’s character can be compared to the “proletarian” characters in Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto” who are promised a better life through revolution, but ultimately have their labor exploited for the benefit of the ruling class.[xii]
Benjamin represents the intelligentsia who remain aloof and uninvolved in the political struggles. He is the apathetic and cynical members of society who do not believe in or support revolutionary change. He is a donkey who is unenthusiastic about the rebellion and remains skeptical throughout the story, but ultimately does not take action to stop the corruption of Napoleon. This concept can be seen in works such as The Republic by Plato, where the character of Thrasymachus represents the dangers of cynicism and apathy.[xiii] Another literary work that Benjamin can be compared to is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The character of Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, observes the corruption and excess of the wealthy characters in the novel, but chooses to remain detached and not get involved.[xiv]
Old Major represents Karl Marx, the philosopher and economist who developed the theory of communism. He is a pig who is the initial leader of the rebellion and inspires the other animals to rebel against their human oppressors, but dies before the rebellion takes place. Old Major talks about the idea of “Animal of the world unite” (pg. 2) which is similar to the call to unite the working class that Marx and Engels make in “The Communist Manifesto” where they say “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.”[xv]
Squealer, the pig responsible for manipulating the truth and maintaining the regime’s control over the animals’ minds, can be compared to the concept of the “Ministry of Truth” from George Orwell’s “1984.” Just as the Ministry of Truth is responsible for rewriting history and manipulating the truth to maintain the government’s control over the population, Squealer uses his rhetorical skills and manipulation of language to control the animals’ perception of reality and maintain Napoleon’s power.[xvi]
Similarly Other characters also represent someone or something in this book. For Instance, Mollie represents the bourgeoisie, or the capitalist class, who are more interested in personal gain and luxury than in revolutionary change. She is a horse who is initially excited about the rebellion but quickly becomes disillusioned and eventually runs away from Animal Farm. Muriel represents the educated and rational members of society who can see through the lies and manipulation of those in power. She is a goat who is able to read and writes and is able to question the actions of Napoleon and the other pigs. Clover represents the loyal and hardworking members of the working class who are initially supportive of the rebellion but become disillusioned by the corruption of those in power. She is a mare who works hard to improve Animal Farm but becomes increasingly disillusioned with Napoleon’s actions. The sheep represent the masses who are easily manipulated and swayed by propaganda. They are easily convinced by Napoleon’s lies and slogans, and blindly follow his lead. Moses is the Raven that represents religion while the other animals represent various other elements of society and human nature, such as the dogs representing the secret police and the pigeons representing the messenger.
In conclusion, Animal Farm is a powerful allegory that illustrates the dangers of power and corruption. Through the characters and events in the novel, George Orwell effectively illustrates how those in power can become corrupt and use their power to exploit and control others. The novel also highlights the importance of equality and the dangers of blindly following leaders without question. Also, in this allegory, Orwell presents the idea of revolution as ultimately failing and leading to the same problems as before, however, other writers have presented successful revolutions that bring about positive change. For example, in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the character of Jean Valjean leads a successful revolution against the oppressive government and works to create a better society for the people. Similarly, in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the character of Offred leads a successful revolution against the oppressive government, leading to the creation of a new and improved society. These examples show that revolution can lead to positive change, as long as it is guided by strong leadership and a clear vision for a better future. Another quotation that goes against the revolution that took place in Animal Farm could be found in the work of Eric Hobsbawm’s “The Age of Revolution”. He states “The revolutions of 1789-1848 were not made by the masses, but by minorities of educated, professional and property-owning men who created the ideology and led the movement.”[xvii] This quotation could be used as a counterargument against the idea that the animals in Animal Farm represent the working class and that their rebellion is a true representation of revolution from below. Instead, it suggests that revolutions are typically led by a small group of educated and privileged individuals, rather than the masses. This could be used to argue that the events in Animal Farm are not a true representation of a revolution, but rather a takeover by a small group of animals who were able to manipulate the others. Overall, Animal Farm serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of giving too much power to one person or group, and the importance of staying vigilant and questioning authority. It is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.
[i] Edward Quinn, Critical Companion to George Orwell: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work (New York: Facts on File, 2009), 53.
[ii] John Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018), 23.
[iii] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932; repr., New York, N.Y: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2011), 89.
[iv] Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017), 67.
[v] John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (S.L.: Arcturus Publishing Ltd, 1859), 45.
[vi] C S Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 47.
[vii] David Lodge, The Art of Fiction (London: Vintage Books, 2011), 78.
[viii] Plato, The Allegory of the Cave (Enhanced Media, 2017), 34.
[ix] Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951; repr., United Kingdom: Penguin Classics, 2017), 267.
[x] John Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018), 23.
[xi] F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925; repr., Penguin Books, 1925).
[xii] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (J E Burghard, 1848).
[xiii] Plato, Republic (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2013).
[xiv] F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925; repr., Penguin Books, 1925).
[xv] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (J E Burghard, 1848), 4.
[xvi] George Orwell, “1984” (1949; repr., Harlow: Pearson Education, 1949).
[xvii] E J Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 (London: Abacus, 2014), 4.
New Social Compact
The Untapped Potential of Women’s Contributions to Peace building
Women’s contributions to peace building have long been undervalued and overlooked, despite their immense potential to contribute to more effective and sustainable peace processes. This is an issue of critical importance, as conflicts around the world continue to have devastating impacts on individuals, communities, and entire nations. Women have unique perspectives and experiences that can help to foster understanding, build trust, and promote reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict. Moreover, research has shown that peace agreements that involve women are more likely to be successful and enduring. Therefore, it is essential that we recognize and harness the untapped potential of women’s contributions to peace building efforts. This article will explore the underrepresentation of women in peace building, the benefits of their participation, and the potential for increasing their involvement in these efforts. Ultimately, it will argue that increasing women’s participation in peace building is not only a matter of justice and equality, but also essential for achieving more effective and sustainable peace outcomes.
The underrepresentation of women in peace building efforts
Despite the growing recognition of the importance of women’s participation in peace building efforts, they remain significantly underrepresented in these processes. According to the United Nations, only 13% of negotiators, 6% of mediators, and 6% of signatories to peace agreements from 1992-2018 were women. Moreover, women are often excluded from formal peace negotiations altogether, with only 4% of signatories to peace agreements in 2015-2019 being women. This lack of representation is particularly concerning given the unique perspectives and experiences that women can bring to peace building efforts.
One of the key barriers to women’s participation in peace building is the persistent gender inequalities that exist in many societies. Women often have limited access to education and economic opportunities, as well as unequal representation in political and decision-making processes. This can make it difficult for women to gain the skills and experience necessary to participate effectively in peace building efforts. In addition, cultural and societal norms often restrict women’s mobility and restrict their ability to participate in public life, including in peace building.
Another key challenge is the prevalence of gender-based violence, which is often a feature of conflict and can prevent women from participating in peace building efforts. Women who are perceived as challenging traditional gender roles or participating in political activities may face harassment, intimidation, and even physical violence. This can make it difficult for women to engage in peace building activities and can discourage them from speaking out about their experiences and perspectives.
Thus, underrepresentation of women in peace building efforts is a significant concern that must be addressed if we are to achieve more effective and sustainable peace outcomes. Efforts to increase women’s participation must address the systemic barriers and challenges that prevent their involvement and must work to ensure that women’s perspectives and experiences are recognized and valued in peace building processes.
The benefits of women’s participation in peace building
The benefits of women’s participation in peace building efforts are numerous and have been demonstrated in various contexts. Research has shown that women’s involvement in peace processes can lead to more comprehensive and sustainable outcomes. This is due in part to the unique perspectives and experiences that women bring to peace building efforts.
Studies have shown that when women are involved in peace negotiations, the resulting agreements are more likely to include provisions that address the needs and concerns of women and other marginalized groups. This can help to promote greater equity and inclusivity in the aftermath of conflict. In addition, women’s involvement in peace building can help to build trust and promote reconciliation, as women are often seen as neutral parties who can bridge divides between different groups.
There are numerous examples of successful peace building efforts that involved women. For example, in Liberia, women played a crucial role in bringing an end to the country’s civil war in 2003. The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, led by women from all walks of life, organized protests and sit-ins that brought international attention to the conflict and helped to pressure the warring parties to negotiate a peace agreement. Women were also involved in the negotiations themselves and were instrumental in ensuring that the final agreement included provisions that addressed the needs of women and girls, such as support for survivors of sexual violence and the establishment of a gender-sensitive police force.
Similarly, in Colombia, women played a key role in negotiations to end the country’s decades-long armed conflict. Women’s groups were involved in the negotiations from the outset and successfully advocated for the inclusion of provisions on gender-based violence and women’s rights in the final agreement. Women have continued to play an important role in the implementation of the agreement, working to ensure that it is implemented in a way that benefits all Colombians.
The potential for women’s contributions to peace building
Despite the evidence of the positive impact of women’s participation in peace building, women are still underrepresented in these efforts. This represents a significant untapped potential for the promotion of peace and security in conflict-affected regions around the world.
One reason for this underrepresentation is the persistent gender inequalities that women face in many societies. These inequalities can limit women’s access to education and economic opportunities, as well as prevent them from participating in decision-making processes. Women are also often excluded from traditional power structures, such as peace negotiations and military operations, which can perpetuate their marginalization in peace building efforts.
However, increasing women’s participation in peace building efforts could lead to better outcomes. Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to these efforts that can help to address the root causes of conflict and promote sustainable peace. For example, women are often responsible for the care and well-being of their families and communities, which can give them insight into the needs and priorities of different groups affected by conflict. Women are also more likely to advocate for issues such as human rights, social justice, and inclusivity in peace negotiations, which can help to build more equitable and sustainable peace agreements.
Moreover, research has shown that when women are involved in peace processes, they are more likely to be committed to the implementation of the resulting agreements. This can help to ensure that peace building efforts are sustained over the long term and that the benefits of peace are shared by all members of society.
Overcoming barriers to women’s participation in peace building
Overcoming the barriers to women’s participation in peace building requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the structural and societal factors that perpetuate gender inequalities. Here are some potential solutions to increase women’s participation in peace building efforts:
- Increase women’s access to education and training: Education and training can help to build women’s skills and confidence, as well as provide them with the knowledge and tools needed to participate in peace building efforts.
- Create opportunities for women’s leadership: Creating opportunities for women to lead and participate in decision-making processes can help to promote their inclusion in peace building efforts. This can include quotas for women’s representation in peace negotiations and other peace building initiatives.
- Address cultural and societal norms: Addressing cultural and societal norms that limit women’s participation in peace building efforts is essential. This can involve raising awareness about the value of women’s contributions to peace building and promoting gender equality more broadly.
- Engage men and boys in gender equality: Engaging men and boys in gender equality efforts is critical for promoting women’s participation in peace building. This can involve education campaigns that challenge gender stereotypes and promote gender equality.
There have been several successful initiatives that have addressed the barriers to women’s participation in peace building. For example, the United Nations Security Council has adopted several resolutions that call for the increased participation of women in peace building efforts. The Global Acceleration Instrument for Women, Peace and Security is a new initiative aimed at accelerating progress towards the full and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of peace and security processes.
Moreover, grassroots initiatives, such as women’s peace networks and local community organizations, have been successful in promoting women’s participation in peace building. For instance, the Women’s Peace Initiative in South Sudan has been successful in promoting women’s participation in the peace process and advancing the inclusion of women’s rights in the country’s constitution.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that women’s contributions to peace building are essential and have been undervalued for too long. In this article, I have highlighted the underrepresentation of women in peace building efforts, discussed the benefits of their participation, and explored the untapped potential for women’s contributions to peace building.
The statistics and evidence are clear – women’s participation in peace building leads to better outcomes, including more inclusive and sustainable peace. Unfortunately, women face many barriers to their participation, including structural and societal factors that perpetuate gender inequalities. However, there are solutions, and successful initiatives have shown that progress is possible.
I urge readers to take action to increase women’s participation in peace building efforts. This can include supporting women’s leadership, promoting gender equality, and creating opportunities for women to participate in decision-making processes. We must work together to create a more just and equitable world, and recognizing and utilizing women’s contributions to peace building is a critical part of this endeavor.
In conclusion, let us not underestimate the power of women’s contributions to peace building. Their voices and perspectives are essential for building more inclusive and sustainable peace. We have the potential to create a better world, and it starts with recognizing and utilizing the untapped potential of women’s contributions to peace building.
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