Decolonizing peace with a gender perspective

Published date16 March 2022
Date16 March 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorÚrsula Oswald-Spring
Decolonizing peace with a
gender perspective
Úrsula Oswald-Spring
Purpose This paper aims to analyze a decolonized peace with gender perspective. Liberal
democracieshad consolidated on conquest, slavery, racism,sexism, colonialism, raw material extraction
and female exploitation.Additional burdens came from neoliberalglobalization with the massive burning
of fossil oil, changing the Earths history from the Holocene toward the Anthropocene. Multiple nexus
between the human and environmental system requires an epistemology from the Global South.
The paper explores alternative peaceparadigms enabling poor and exploited people to overcome the
destructive outcomes of patriarchal violence and extractivism. Regionally and locally, they are
experimentingwith just, safe, equal and sustainablealternatives of free societies.
Design/methodology/approach The nexus approach focuses on system efficiency, internal and
externalfeedbacks and allows decision-makingprocesses with stronger cross-sectoralcoordination and
multi-level governance. It includes the understanding of the policy agenda and the political actors at
different levels, explaining the discrimination of gender from local to global. The analysis establishes
complex relations between theory and political actions, due that all actions are inherently mediated by
gender. A key focus is a relationship and the outcomes of policies, where communication and
collaborationat the local level grant efficientpeaceful resource management with genderequity.
Findings An engendered-sustainable peace approach is culturally decentralized and may offer
alternatives to the ongoingdestruction process of neoliberal corporatism and violence.Drastic systemic
change requires massive changes from bottom-up and top-down before 20302050. Global solidarity
among all excluded people, especially women and girls, promotes from childhood an engendered-
sustainable peace-building process, where positive feedbacks may reduce the tipping points on Earth
and among humankind. Engendered-sustainable peace can mitigate the upcoming conflicts and
catastrophes, limiting the negative feedbacks from abusive, selfish and destructive corporations. A
greater self-regulating sustainable system with a HUGE-security could promote a decolonized,
engenderedand sustainable peace for everybody.
Research limitations/implications The interconnectedrisks are cascading across differentdomains,
where systemic challenges have intensified conflicts and violence, due to uncertainty, instability and
fragility. Cascading effectsnot only demand prevention for sudden disruptions (hurricanes, floods) but
also forslow-ongoing processes (drought,sea-level rise, lack of water availability,etc.), which are equally
or more disruptive. Womensuffer differently from disasters and are prone to greaterimpacts on their life
and livelihood.An engendered peace is limited by thedeep engrained patriarchal system.Only a culture
of peace withgender recognition may grant futurepeace and also the sustainable careof ecosystems.
Practical implications The Global Southis exploring alternative ways to overcomethe present violent
and destructiveglobalization by promoting deep engrainedindigenous values of Aymaras’ living well, the
shell model of commandingby obeying of the Zapatistasor Bhutan’s HappinessIndex. Globally, critical
women andmen are promoting subsistence agriculture,solidarity or gift economy, wherelocal efforts are
restoring the equilibriumbetween humans and nature. An engendered-sustainable peace is limitingthe
destructiveimpacts of the Anthropocene, climate changeand ongoing pandemics.
Social implications An engendered-sustainable peace is culturally decentralized and offers
alternatives to the ongoingdestruction process of neoliberal corporatism, climate change and violence.
The text explores howto overcome the present hybrid warfare with alternativeHUGE security and peace
from the bottom-up. Regional reinforcement of food security, safe water management,local jobs and a
concordian economy for the most vulnerable may change the present exploitation of nature and
humankind. Growing solidarity with people affected by disasters is empowering women and girls and
dismantlingfrom the bottom-up, the dominant structuresof violence and exploitation.
´rsula Oswald-Spring is
based at the Regional
Centre for Multidisciplinary
Research, National
Autonomous University of
Mexico, Cuernavaca,
Received 21 January 2022
Revised 14 February 2022
Accepted 14 February 2022
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-01-2022-0678 VOL. 15 NO. 1 2023, pp. 23-38, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 23
Originality/value The military-industrial-scientific corporate complex and the exploitation of women,
men and natural resources, based on patriarchy, has produced climate change, poverty and global
pandemics with millions of unnecessary deaths and suffering. A doughnut engendered peace looking
from the outside and inside of the system of globalization and environmental destruction proposes to
overcome the growth addiction by a growth agnostic society. Engendered peace explores alternative
and sustainable values that go beyond the dominant technological changes. It includes a culturally,
politically and institutionally ingrained model where everybody is a participant, reinforcing an
engendered-sustainablepeace and securityfor everybody.
Keywords Global South, Anthropocene, Decolonizing peace, HUGE peace and security,
Systemic alternatives, Engendered-sustainable peace
Paper type Conceptual paper
1. Introduction
The complex connections among the interacting multiple crises thathumanity and Earth face
today have produced climate change, disasters, biodiversity loss, inequality, poverty, the
COVID-19 pandemic and an extreme social inequality. All these factors are interconnected
and require global solutions, but also local responses and resilience from the bottom-up,
especially among the people living in a dual socio-environmental vulnerability (Oswald
2013). The complexity at different levels demands responses that addresses the structural
dynamics, characterized by shortcomings of governance, economics, finance, health and
environment, but not on the root causes of violence. Peace research has focused on
negative peace (Czempiel, 1986); democratic peace (Oren, 1995;Paris, 2004); positive
peace (Galtung, 1969); interdependent peace (Senghaas, 1973); structural peace (Brauch,
2008); and sustainable peace (Ellen, 1996;Boulding, 1966) or ecological peace (Brown,
2008). All these theorists were Western White men who after the Second World War were
beginning to look for less violent alternatives in their societies, but without penetrating into
the deep roots of violence engrained in patriarchy. By not questioning these origins of
violence, they have become global peace specialists, because they have not fundamentally
challenged the dominant military-industrial-scientific complex and the violence rooted in
patriarchy andwar.
It was the book of Sexism and the War System by Betty Reardon (1996),who delved into the
origins of violence and its relationship to patriarchy. Thus, peace research requires a
gender perspective to overcome five thousand years of violent, authoritarian, discriminatory
and exploitative patriarchy. Reardon insisted that “patriarchy is a social, political, and
economic system of control and domination structured in terms of hierarchy of human
relations and value that is based on socially constructed gender differentiation” (Reardon
and Snauwart, 2015 a,pxii). To overcome this unequal power and value system, almost
universally put in place, constitutes the paradigmatic change for peace research (Reardon
and Snauwart, 2015). A systemic approach addresses beside the exploitation of women,
youth and elderlies also a historical and decolonial framing of the dominant social relations
(Oswald and Brauch, 2021). This new approach would acknowledge the centrality of
women’s paid and unpaid care work for global prosperity, and it would recognize also how
the corporations of the Global North continues to drain natural and human resources from
the Global South, withholdingdecision-making power on imperialist laws. Today, the natural
rich Latin America is the regions with the most corporate demands against governmental
actions, who have only protected their populations from destructive and toxic activities
(Burbano et al., 2018). Nevertheless, the international arbitrary courts gave the
transnationals the reason and charged heavy fines against Southern governments, despite
the fact that these corporations have destroyed the environment and the health of the
The key argument of this paper is that alternatives to the hothouse Earth and the unjust
neoliberal model require the eradicationof patriarchal violence within a decolonial structure,

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