Our research contributes to the proliferating literature that complicates the narrative of peaceful women and war-prone men. We have found that women and men take on multiple and often unexpected roles: in addition to following stereotypical roles, women in our case communities also have become heads of households, secured the financial viability of the family, supported men in conflict by providing logistics, and joined fighting forces or encouraged their children to do so. Conversely, in addition to appearing as fighters, men have fled violence and recruitment into militias and have worked to encourage and build peace
Preliminary analysis of our interview data suggests that unequal gender relations do not cause processes of violent conflict and (de)escalation independently of other processes. Rather, they inflect these processes in different ways, and several gendered models of conflict management and peacebuilding are emerging. One model draws on masculine authority: a community board of all-male leaders who established highly authoritarian rule, tightly circumscribing people’s movements, actions, and communications, thus preventing violence by restricting freedom. Another model draws on women’s ties across communal divides to produce a cross-communal identity, using appeals to this identity to heal wounds and providing support in times of need. Gender thus functions as a resource in peacebuilding and masculinity and femininity become productive for peace in different ways.