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#MilitarisedMasculinities

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Unveils Rich Body of Research, Imagery and Film Exploring Militarised Masculinities Around the World

In July 2020, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the world’s oldest and longest standing women’s peacebuilding organisation, and the MenEngage Alliance, a global network working to engage men and boys in women’s rights and gender justice, launched a joint programme called Confronting Militarised Masculinities: Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace. Some two years later, find out what they discovered through a rich body of research, imagery and film.

Image credit: Lance Robert Henderstein
WILPF
12 September 2022

The concept of militarised masculinities captures the “fusion of certain practices and images of maleness with the use of weapons, the exercise of violence, and the performance of an aggressive and frequently misogynist masculinity.

Kimberley Theidon

In July 2020, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the world’s oldest and longest standing women’s peacebuilding organisation, and the MenEngage Alliance, a global network working to engage men and boys in women’s rights and gender justice, launched a joint programme called Confronting Militarised Masculinities: Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace. 

With violence and war having a devastating effect on countries, communities and individuals across the globe, the programme sheds light on and challenges the gendered root causes of violence and armed conflict around the world. Through a body of cutting-edge research and analysis the programme advances global understanding of how the ‘war system’ is enmeshed with practices and representations of masculinity associated with power, violence and control, and spotlights the vital work of men working in solidarity with women activists and those beyond the gender binary to advance feminist peace. 

With a focus on four countries Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the programme comprises four key elements: alliance building between women’s peace organisations and organisations working with men for gender equality; agrowing body of research and analysis on the causes, manifestations and responses to militarised masculinities;  national, regional and global advocacy; and a set of communications tools a newly commissioned one-hour documentary called Power On Patrol, and an online photography exhibition– which explore notions of militarised masculinities and alternatives to them from around the world.

The body of original research conducted for the project was generated by academics and thought leaders from WILPF partner countries – Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – and elsewhere around the world. Comprising nearly two dozen reports in all, a mix of literature reviews, case studies, and in-depth qualitative research with a range of constituencies in each country—the research explores the causes and impacts of militarised masculinities, and of strategies that can effectively mobilise men to take action for feminist peace.

Power On Patrol, the one-hour documentary reveals the true human cost of militarised masculinities in these conflict societies and spotlights the men working with women activists to advance feminist peace through powerful personal testimony intertwined with leading expert voices in the field. 

The Militarised Masculinities and Alternatives online photography exhibition is the result of WILPF’s inaugural competition which invited photographers from around the world to submit photographs that explored the relationship between masculinities, conflict and peace, violence and care.

Madeleine Rees, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s Secretary General, says, “The work being done by WILPF sections to mobilise men for feminist peace in Africa, Asia and Latin America is inspiring. The research, imagery and films now collected on our website convey the creativity, courage and determination that offers real hope for meaningful change. It deserves a wide audience”.

MOBILISING MEN FOR FEMINIST PEACE

Press Contacts

Rebecca Ladbury
rebecca@ladburypr.com
+44 7941 224 975

Danya Agababian
danya@ladburypr.com
+44 7779 635 147

About Power on Patrol

This hour-long documentary sheds light on the concept of militarised masculinities as a key driver of this conflict and aggression, the ways it manifests itself in conflict societies, how it is sustained, and spotlights the stories of the male allies doing vital work alongside female activists to achieve equitable peace. Through powerful personal testimony, the film reveals the motivations of the women and men living in deeply militaristic, patriarchal societies – Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – who are figuring out how to work together to challenge men’s privileges, as well as the larger power structures which perpetuate militarised masculinities: the state, its military and the neoliberal politics that exploit traditional ideas of masculinity,  reinforcing hierarchies and disempowerment for those outside this gender norm. These local voices are intertwined with those of global leaders in the field, Ray Acheson, Director of WILPF’s disarmament program Reaching Critical Will, and Oswaldo Montoya from the MenEngage Alliance.

Production Credits

  • Director: Tay Blyth-Kubota
  • Producer: Joanna Maxwell-Scott
  • Executive Producer: Dean Peacock

Interviewees

  • Diana Salcedo López, President, LIMPAL, WILPF section in Colombia
  • Alejandro Parra Maćias, Colombian Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors
  • Annie Matundu Mbambi, President of WILPF DRC
  • Paty Siwala, Programme Manager, National Democratic Institute, DRC
  • Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, President of WILPF Cameroon
  • Hareer Hashim, WILPF project manager in Afghanistan
  • Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will, WILPF’s disarmament program
  • Oswaldo Montoya, Network Associate, MenEngage Alliance

Find out more here.

About the Research Reports

An ongoing body of original research generated by academics and thought leaders from WILPF partner countries – Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia – and elsewhere around the world which seeks to strengthen understanding of the causes and impacts of militarised masculinities, and of strategies that can effectively mobilise men to take action for feminist peace.

Synthesis and summary of research conducted in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia and the DRC

Men, Masculinities & Armed Conflict: Findings from a four-country study by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Author: Alan Greig
This report summarises the findings of research studies conducted by WILPF staff in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Colombia and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the insights and conclusions from a set of literature reviews and background papers.
Read in English

Country Reports

Men, Masculinities & Armed Conflict: Grave Impacts of Militarised Masculinity in Afghan Society Pre and Post Taliban Takeover

Author: Hareer Hashim
This study highlights the root causes of militarised masculinities in Afghanistan, and how the manifestations of these imposed gender norms and ideologies inhibit women’s social, economic and political rights; perpetuate armed conflict; and promote the possession and use of weapons.
Read in English

Engaging Men and Boys for Peacebuilding in Cameroon

Authors: Guy Feugap, Sylvie Ndongmo, Michel Ndongo Kitio, Laura Berka Nfomi
This study by WILPF Cameroon explores masculinities, and how to more effectively engage men and boys in peacebuilding, particularly as men, who are usually at the forefront of armed hostilities, should be engaged in such a process to bring about better and long-lasting results.
Read in English
Read in French

Factors Of Violence And Voices Of Resistance – The Militarised Masculinities In The Democratic Republic Of Congo

Authors: WILPF DRC
This study first aims to understand how men and boys living in conflict zones are indoctrinated to become violent. Secondly, the objective of this study is to identify the voices of resistance, by listening to the needs of these male communities.
Read in English
Read in French

The Institutional And Cultural Militarisation Of Masculinities In Colombia, The Most War-Like Country In Latin America

Author: LIMPAL Colombia
This research paper explores how the militarisation of masculinities in Colombia occurs in each stage of life, and in the institutional and cultural spectrums, since Limpal recognises that the militaristic system is so corrosive that it is installed in each of the political and social spaces of Colombian society.
Read in English
Read in Spanish

Research

Evolving Alliances: Men and Women – Access to Land, Gender Relations and Conflict in Anglophone Cameroon

Author: Lotsmart Fonjong
Through analysis of primary and secondary sources, this paper explores the under-reported stories of how men, specifically ordinary men, chiefs, and those in the legal profession, are demonstrating support for women’s land rights during conflicts in Cameroon.
Read in English

WILPF Sri Lanka Brief Study Report – Gender Equality, Resistance, Responsibilities and Reaching Out

Author: Nadee Gunaratne
This brief study report explores the manifestations of militarised masculinities in Sri Lanka, which are defined as stereotypical traits of manhood such as power, control and aggressiveness acquired through participation in armed forces, and provide recommendations on how to address the structures, interests and institutions that underpin and drive conflicts and shape gender roles.
Read in English

Global

A WILPF Research Guide: Confronting Militarised Masculinities, Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace

Authors: Dean Peacock / support from Jenny Aulin, Maria Butler, Emily Dontsos, Madeleine Rees,
Claire Somerville and Patrick Welsh.
This research guide from WILPF and the MenEngage Alliance lays out the approach to participatory feminist political economy research, as it relates to confronting militarised masculinities, as well as strategies for alliance building and advocacy. It provides an overview of research focus areas, explains key concepts and terms, and offers a set of tools to support further in-country and global research.
Read in English

A WILPF Research Guide: Confronting Militarised Masculinities, Mobilising Men for Feminist Peace

Authors: Dean Peacock with support from Jenny Aulin, Maria Butler, Emily Dontsos, Madeleine Rees, Claire Somerville and Patrick Welsh
A research guide intended for use and adaptation by anyone interested in conducting research on the topic of confronting militarised masculinities.
Read in English

Analysis

Making Visible The Afghan Men Who Are Working For Women’s Rights And A Gender-Just Society

Authors: Dr Farooq Yousaf and Dean Peacock. This report was jointly developed by WILPF and Swisspeace.
Analyses of women’s rights and gender equality in Afghanistan have historically neglected the many Afghan men who have spoken up for women’s rights and worked for a gender-just society. This analysis interviews men and women working together to advance feminist peace across the country, sharing their personal stories, experiences, and motivations.
Read in English

Militarised Masculinities in Colombia: An Analysis of Corruption, Land Dispossession and US Interventionism

Authors: Colleen Putzel-Kavanaughand Dr Mia Schöb
This paper contributes an analysis of structural drivers to research on the links between militarism and masculinities.
Read in English
Read in Spanish

Strategies For Change

Abolishing Militarised Masculinities

Author: Ray Acheson
This report identifies structures of state violence beyond the military, such as police, prisoners and borders, which utilise militarised masculinities in the interests of capital, privilege and power, and explores the potential of abolitionism as a framework for enacting change.
Read in English

Confronting militarised masculinities: Transforming the artisanal mining sector in Zimbabwe from a culture of patriarchal dominance to a safe space for women and girls

Author: Edwick Madzimure
This participatory research aims to analyse the root causes and manifestations of violent masculinities in the gold production sector. It starts from the premise that understanding these dynamics is crucial in the drafting of strategies to mobilise men and women for feminist peace, security and development.
Read in English

Use and impacts of UN HRC Resolution 35/10

Authors: Daphne Genatio and Dean Peacock
The adoption in 2017 of Resolution 35/10, Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls, by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is an important milestone in the increased recognition this need. This paper analyses the use and impacts of this resolution among civil society and the UN system.
Read in English

Men, Masculinities and Feminist Peace Peer Exchange Report

A report from two peer exchange meetings co-convened by WILPF and PAX in February and March bringing together 20 global and national peacebuilding organisations working to incorporate a focus on men and masculinities.
Read in English

Literature Reviews

Militarised Masculinities in Cameroon

Author: Tanushree Kaushal
A Review of Structural Gendered Dynamics in Cameroon .
Read in English
Read in French

Masculinities, War and Violence in Afghanistan

Authors: Siad Darwish, Hareer Hashim & Jamila Afghani
A review exploring how four decades of nearly continuous war have shaped the construction
and realisation of manhood in Afghanistan.
Read in English

Militarised Masculinities in Colombia and Approaches to Building Alternative Masculinities for a Feminist Peace

Authors: Dr Mia Schöb
A literature review of Colombia’s complex histories of armed conflict and violence, which have arguably produced a “culture of violence” discursively linked to the national identity and promotes militarised, violent masculinities as the hegemonic model of masculinity.
Read in English
Read in Spanish

Issue Brief

Men and Masculinities in Gender Responsive Small Arms Control

Authors: WILPF, Pathfinders and GENSAC
Explores the links between men, masculinity, and small arms
Read in English

Publications

A more generous embrace

Authors: Delphine Brun
This publication explores why addressing the needs of adolescent boys and men is essential to an effective humanitarian response in Cameroon’s North West and South West.
Read in English

Militarised Masculinities – Identifying Causes, Manifestations, and Strategies for Change

Authors: Margherita Dacquino, Conrad Otto Lude,Clara Palmisano and Gaya Raddadi
Four students from the Graduate Institute in Geneva (IHEID) recently partnered with WILPF on a Capstone research study entitled “Militarised Masculinities: Identifying Causes, Manifestations, and Strategies for Change”. Using analysis of major case studies, the research looks at how military actors generate norms about manhood, how these norms are ocialized in society, and how military recruitment practices exploit these norms.
Read in English

The Gendered Political Economy of Militarized Peacekeeping

Author: Dean Peacock
While peacekeeping missions might be deployed as part of the effort to demilitarize non-state armed groups and professionalize standing armies by bringing in new soldiers with new uniforms and armaments, peacekeeping missions can in fact perpetuate the militarization of society and propagate problematic ideas about men’s roles.
Read in English

About Militarised Masculinities and Alternatives Photography Exhibition

WILPF launched its inaugural global photography competition in 2022 with an esteemed panel of judges, asking photographers to submit work that responded to the theme ‘Militarised Masculinities and Alternatives’. The overall winner was Colombian photographer Carolina Navas Gutiérrez whose powerful series of images ‘Nos miran’ (they gaze upon us) revealed the vulnerabilities of young men living in the Tumaco region of Colombia’s Pacific Coast, notorious for being one of the world’s largest cocaine-producing regions and an area with one of the highest violent death rates in the country with one of the judges acclaimed photojournalist Donna Ferrato calling them “a gift to humanity”. Honourable mentions were awarded to two entrants, Lauren Justice, for her portrait and interview collection with perpetrators of domestic violence and their counsellor, a survivor of domestic abuse, “What Would I Have Done If I Would Have Killed Her that Night?” in the United States, and former humanitarian aid worker, Pedram Pirnia PhD, for his single image entitled ‘Classroom with a Gun’ taken in Afghanistan.

Winners

  • Overall winner: Carolina Navas Gutiérrez, for her powerful series ‘Nos miran’ (They gaze upon us) documenting young men living on Colombia’s Pacific Coast
  • Honourable Mention: Pedram Pirnia, for his image ‘Classroom with a Gun’ taken in Afghanistan
  • Honourable Mention: Lauren Justice, for her series interview series, “What Would I Have Done If I Would Have Killed Her that Night?” with perpetrators of domestic violence in the United States

Judges

  • Pete Muller, Jury Chair and longstanding chronicler of men, masculinities and conflict
  • Donna Ferrato, internationally acclaimed photojournalist
  • Jehan Jillani, The Atlantic’s Visuals Editor
  • Tasha Dougé, conceptual artist
  • jahi chikwendiu, Washington Post photographer

Find out more and view the images here.

About Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is the oldest and longest standing women’s peacebuilding organization in the world with secretariat offices in Geneva and New York and with constituted membership organisations in nearly fifty countries. WILPF is one of the originators of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and played a key role in the passage of Security Council Resolution 1325. WILPF plays a leadership role in feminist movements across the world, especially those working to address conflict and promote peace. Over the last few years, WILPF has strengthened its focus on mobilizing men for feminist peace in collaboration with the MenEngage Alliance.

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WILPF

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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