Gospel nonviolence in action: Gender and conflict

Muriel Lester, early member of FoR

Muriel Lester, early member of FoR

What does Gospel nonviolence look like in action? The Fellowship of Reconciliation held a joint conference with the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship looking at this, and included a talk from the Revd David Mumford. Over a series of 14 blogs, some short and some longer, he outlines the different themes and topics covered in his presentation. 

Gender is a major element in war. The majority of violent conflicts in the world today are civil conflicts. Rather than members of the armed forces being most at risk, it is civilians and non-combatants who bear the brunt of the suffering.  And amongst civilians it is women, children and the elderly who suffer disproportionately.

Violence is often gendered. In the first, broadly nonviolent, intifada in Palestine that began in 1987, actions were shared, but when violence became the norm it was predominantly males who were involved and the female role was that of supportive nurturers. War is predominantly a male construct.

And in civil society it is usually women (and children) who are the recipients of domestic violence.

Yet women have often take the lead in calling for an end to violence, from Lysistrata in Aristophanes’ play (where women refuse men conjugal rights until the Peloponnesian war is ended) to the Peace People in Northern Ireland. Artificial barriers between family and state, personal and political, domestic and international are broken down.

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation, through its Women Peacemakers Programme (WPP), brought together women from different sides of conflict – from Cyprus, from the Caucasus, from Israel/Palestine among others. And through their training of trainers programme the WPP trained many women in nonviolence with the only challenge to them being to go and find other women in their own countries to train.