Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment, and conflicts are complex and respective research is still in its early stage. First insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disaster. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events, such as natural disasters. Additionally, in the course of violent conflicts (whether they are financed by valuable resources or not), sexual abuse is often and sometimes systematically used as a weapon of war.
Despite their physical vulnerability and numerical strength, women are only marginally involved in bodies aiming to prevent, manage or resolve conflict at the national, regional and international level. To draw attention to this disparity, in 2000 the UN Security Council adopted the Security Council Resolution 1325 , which is binding for all Member States, although no sanctions are foreseen for breaches. At the local level in poor and rural areas, women are predominantly in charge of natural resource management (collecting water and firewood, subsistence farming, etc.) and could therefore be the primary target group for leading environmental peacemaking projects. The literature provides comprehensive examples – waiting to be replicated – of women's knowledge and leadership capacity and their successful engagement in peacebuilding and natural resource management.
Against this background, a special issue of the ECC-Newsletter has been published under the title "Gender, Environment, Conflict" in order to highlight interlinkages and enhance further discussion and networking on this topic.