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This study examines gender-specific impacts of conflict and post-conflict and the ways in which events in these contexts may affect women differently than they affect men. It analyzes the roles of women in the nation-building process and considers outcomes that might occur if current practices were modified. The recent nation-building activities in Afghanistan are used as a case study. Despite the difficulty of collecting data in conflict zones, the information available from Afghanistan provides several pragmatic points for consideration. Gender issues have been overtly on the table from the beginning of U.S. post-conflict involvement in Afghanistan, in part because of the Taliban’s equally overt prior emphasis on gender issues as a defining quality of its regime. Also, the issue of women’s inclusion is an official part of Afghanistan’s development agenda, so all the active agents in the nation-building enterprise have made conscious choices and decisions that can be reviewed and their underlying logic evaluated.

The monograph concludes with a broad set of analytic and policy recommendations. First, specific suggestions are made for improving the data-collection process. Then, three shifts in emphasis are recommended that could strengthen the prospects of stability and enhance the outcomes of nation-building programs: a more genuine emphasis on the broader concept of human security from the earliest phases of the nation-building effort; a focus on establishing governance based on principles of equity and consistent rule of law; and economic inclusion of women in the earliest stages of reconstruction activities.

"“This RAND-initiated study looks at the role of women and the various challenges they may expect to face during a post-conflict nation-building process, with empirical reference to the recent and ongoing experience of Afghanistan. Adopting a three-dimensional approach, it examines every significant aspect of gender equity, from the spheres of economic and political participation to the planning and implementation of gender-specific programmes in health and education. It also usefully documents the incremental steps by which these milestones have been achieved. This is an analytically rigorous and well-researched study, which, despite its dense academic style, deserves a broad readership and will appeal to those with a genuine regard for gender issues in post-conflict environments.…Despite the difficult case of Afghanistan, the underlying thread of this study argues the need for gender policies from the very outset, permeating every aspect of society.”"

- Journal of Peace Research

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Government of Qatar and was conducted under the auspices of the Center for Middle East Public Policy within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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