Women’s Participation in Conflict: A Closer Look

Women’s Participation in Conflict: A Closer Look

Conflict has always been associated with men as a male-dominated field. Scholars would say that women are invisible members of conflicts. They are present, only behind closed doors. On October 5, 2022, SEAN-CSO held a webinar titled “Invisible Members: Women and Conflict in the Region.” We invited our notable speakers Rozana Isa (Sisters in Islam, Malaysia) and Kalis Mardiasih (Writer/Social Activist, Indonesia) to take a closer look and discuss this topic. Here’s a wrap-up of our previous discussion:

1. Why are Women Invisible?

Ironically, it’s unsurprising that women keep getting violated and discriminated against. Kalis argued that society believed women have always been associated with mother nature, such as nurturing and caring. Therefore, there’s no way women can do terror because they are weak. Not only that, society always frightens women. If they do sins, they will eventually go to hell. “We are all women who are the victims of symbolic violence. We are gaslighted daily by male scholars who always talk about our sins and our potential to go to hell. And you know that the victims of violence could get traumatized and sometimes find it difficult to proceed,” said Kalis.

2. What’s Behind the Closed Door?

Some women believe that religiously, their role should be inside the house. However, being invisible doesn’t mean they don’t participate in conflicts. “Perhaps, they’re invisible because all these events are happening within closed doors in someone’s home. They’re not out there giving their opinions because they’re giving their support to those who are speaking up on these issues,” said Rozana.

3. Women’s Participation: Cases

Nowadays, women’s participation in conflict has become even more visible. The positive one, women started to speak up their voices and can mobilize other women to speak up on their own too. Although on the other hand, there is also the opposing side. One of the cases is the Surabaya bombings in 2018 by a family of six, including the mother and two daughters. Cases like this proved that women could also participate in a conflict, even more crime.

It can be concluded that although women are invisible, it doesn’t mean women don’t participate in this topic. However, women’s participation also shouldn’t be underestimated and discriminated against since, above all, conflict is not exclusively for men. 

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