The research confirmed International Alert's starting hypothesis that peacebuilding can be more effective if built on an understanding of how gendered identities are constructed through the societal power relations between and among women, men, girls, boys and members of sexual and gender minorities. This ‘gender-relational' approach is, on the one hand, broader in the sense that it moves away from equating gender with women (and girls) and, on the other hand, deeper in that it examines the interplay between gender and other identity markers, such as age, social class, sexuality, disability, ethnic or religious background, marital status or urban/rural setting. While such an approach requires more nuanced and better-researched interventions, it can also allow for more effective and sustainable targeting of programming.
Our four case studies provide a number of illustrations of how such an approach might be implemented in practice, and make it clear that there is a wide range of variation possible within an overall gender-relational framework. This synthesis report attempted to identify in some of the issues and challenges that arise as a result. While a narrowly circumscribed methodology would clearly be inappropriate, we can nevertheless identify some broad lessons for peacebuilding practice that emerge from the research, as follows: Understanding the context, Identifying who to work with and how, Identifying best ways of working, Applying a gender-relational approach to different sectors and themes, Implications for organisational structures, policies and practices.