Gender, Conflict and War

Course Description: 

Elective Course, Security Specialization/Concentration

What does it mean to have a gendered approach, and why does it matter? What assumptions underlie gender mainstreaming? Are these assumptions based on a particular ideology? Why are there still so few women serving in the world’s militaries? Is gender-based violence an inevitable consequence of war? What sets gender-based violence apart from other types of violence?

Those seeking a career in public policy, no matter what they work on or where, should be prepared to respond to professional demands regarding gender--whether it involves understanding how to conduct a gender analysis, or how to mainstream gender into their programs. This course is designed to provide this skill-set. Students will come away from this course with a strong understanding of gender issues related to war, violence, and conflict, but the objective of the course is deeper and broader.  By the course’s conclusion students should gain a sophisticated understanding of what gender mainstreaming involves, and its challenges, pitfalls, and complexities, especially in diverse ideological, religious, and cultural contexts. Topics that will be covered include the gendered causes and consequences of war, gender-based violence during wartime, women and peacekeeping, all-female armed groups, women and terrorism, and gender and the military. The course will also include an examination of policies and interventions designed to respond to gender-based violence, and to support women’s participation in peace and security operations.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to: (1) produce a gender analysis of specific conflict situations; (2) develop and present a briefing that offers specific recommendations related to gender mainstreaming of a policy or program; and (3) analyze and respond to various programmatic and policy complexities associated with gender mainstreaming in areas of conflict, especially those arising from ideological, cultural and religious differences.

Students will also: (1) have a general understanding of policies and programs to implement the gender, peace and security agenda at both national and international levels; and (2) have a strong grounding of cutting edge issues related to gender, conflict and violence, such as women’s involvement in militant and terrorist groups, and gender based violence during peacekeeping missions.


Students will be responsible for one op­ed, and one policy brief with presentation (group work).

There will also be short quizzes distributed at the beginning of each class.

The op­ed is worth 20%, policy brief 30%, policy briefing presentation 15% (both policy briefing exercises will be group work), quizzes (together) are worth 20%, and class participation/attendance 15%. Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory. Students will be expected to fully participate in classroom discussions and activities, and should be ready to be called upon by the instructor at any time in the lesson.