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Kathryn Knowles Women in International Affairs Lecture - Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda for Transformational Change

March 28, 2022

Speaker: Christina Bache, United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education, Working Group on Business for PeaceModerator: Professor Michael G. Plummer, Johns Hopkins SAIS EuropeDr. Christina Bache joined BIPR to discuss the challenges and opportunities of global efforts to advance the position of women in all matters of peace and security. Professor Michael Plummer began the talk with an introduction and mentioned the importance of Dr. Kathryn Knowles to the SAIS Europe Community as a staff member, colleague, and friend. Dr. Bache then began the discussion by highlighting the three central elements of her presentation. First, the need to challenge traditional peace and security perspectives, why advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda is critical to ensuring greater gender equality, equity, and women’s meaningful inclusion in peace and transition processes, and how the deeper economic inclusion of women is a means to making that a reality.
Dr. Bache then moved to a general discussion of the peace and security paradigms often showcased among foreign policy circles. She asked the audience their thoughts on peace and security and received a collection of answers to help guide the talk. Participants in the audience noted the military aspect of security and more novel ideas of peace and security, such as food security and access to healthcare. Others stressed the importance of understanding the myriad dimensions of the topic.
After the discussion, Dr. Bache offered her interpretations of these topics. For peace, she highlighted two prominent perspectives: negative and positive peace. She defined negative peace as the absence of war, assault, and physical violence. In contrast, positive peace refers to the absence of poverty, inequality, and other forms of structural violence. Full peace comes, she says, with both of these points. On the issue of security, Dr. Bache noted two dominant paradigms. She outlined the traditional realist notion of the security of the state. However, she highlighted the importance of human security. This broader concept of security includes the protection of the individual so they may live a life free from fear, free from want, and to live in dignity.
After framing these topics, Bache then turned to the primary topic of the evening: The women, peace, and security agenda. To start, she talked about the dangers that women face in conflicts worldwide. While each armed conflict poses unique dynamics and affects genders differently, women are often victims of direct and indirect violence in conflict zones, causing the consequences of war to linger long after the cessation of fighting. For this reason, she noted the importance of the meaningful involvement of women in all matters of peace and security. For instance, the women in peace and security agenda focuses not only on preventing violence in conflict areas but also on the inclusion of women in negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction. To do this, she noted the importance of national governments, transnational organizations, civil society, as well as the private sector in helping to solve global inequality and inequity and bolstering women’s decision-making in all spheres of society.
Dr. Bache suggested that the private sector, particularly multinational corporations, has a significant role to play in the deepening of women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of society by bolstering women’s economic inclusion. She concluded with the statement that the private sector could no longer rely on a “do-no-harm” approach to gender inequality and inequity around the world. Likewise, she stated that opinion has begun to shift in legislators and among consumers to compel the private sector to take more significant action in bolstering gender equality and inclusion.