Women, war and peace: Madhu Kishwar in TOI

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Whether women are seen as inherently pacifist or not necessarily so, is one of the important ways in which schools of feminist thought differ. The essentialist view is that women as mothers must naturally be pacifists and nurturers (ergo, well-suited to caregiving careers and care-related portfolios). The liberals would differ with this view accepting that you cannot generalize.

Another feminist debate is about women participating in war. If you take this liberal view that women are not inherently pacifist or warlike, then the question is: should they be able to take on combat jobs in national armies? They do in insurgency groups, of course. But this remains an issue as armies around the world adapt to the new workforce.

In the following article, Madhu Kishwar writes about the inclusion of women in army units as a confidence-building measure.

Madhu Kishwar, “Women can win the war on war,” Times of India, June 13, 2010.

“Amid reports that the Americans are using female marines in Afghanistan to gain access to local women and thereby swing the population to their side, there are suggestions that India could do the same in Kashmir. But, recruiting a few women to control human rights abuses in Kashmir would be like applying band-aid to a deeply-infected wound. Kashmir requires a political solution, not a military one. Band-aid solutions evoke disdain rather than inspire confidence. “

…”Cosmetic changes to the Army’s image cannot be a substitute for determined efforts to find a political solution acceptable to diverse sections of Kashmiri society. People will have faith in “boli” only when it is backed by a responsive polity and a government that has the ability to deliver what it promises.”

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