An Exploration Into the Gendered Interpretation of Summud and its Subsequent Manifestations in Palestinian Peacebuilding: Towards a Gender Inclusive Model of Peacebuilding
Current literature on peacebuilding confirms increasing recognition of the ways in which experiences of conflict differ for women and men. Furthermore, it is well documented that women often face the most severe consequences during times of conflict and they are highly underrepresented in formal peacebuilding processes. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in attention on the inclusion of women in these processes. This is often framed as ‘engendering peacebuilding’. However, to date, concepts of engendering peacebuilding, gender analysis, and gender mainstreaming most often equate the term gender with women. The treatment of gender as woman has led to a focus on the experiences, importance, and value of including women in peacebuilding. Although recognition of women’s agency in peacebuilding is crucial to success, there needs to be a complementing equally in-depth exploration of men’s unique role in the same domain.
Furthermore, from a human security perspective, it is imperative to understand and place the individual, thus the local, at the centre of analysis. This research strives to investigate and analyze the uniquely Palestinian concept of sumud. By including the interaction between the concept of sumud and gender in the study of peacebuilding in Palestine this study honors the unique situational context.
In sum, the intent of this study is to explore the construction and assumptions of gender identities as they relate and contribute to peacebuilding in Palestine. Additionally, this research aims to analyze the gendered interpretation and manifestation of sumud and explore how these gendered interpretations influence Palestinian peacebuilding.
Statement of Need:
There is substantial need for research that deconstructs and analyzes peacebuilding in Palestine in the domain of both gender and cultural practices such as sumud. An understanding of the interconnected nexus between these concepts will lead to a better understanding of how gender and culture play into Palestinian peacebuilder’s decision to work in this field. Furthermore, this research is informed by the concept that in order to holistically address peacebuilding, an understanding and conceptualization of both sexes’ gendered experience is crucial.
This research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the progression from a mono-dimensional ‘male combatant’ vs. ‘female civilian victim’ narrative and ‘male top-down’ vs. ‘woman grassroots’ peacebuilding by moving towards a more symbiotic, comprehensive model highlighting their varied, complementary roles. This emerging gender inclusive model represents an innovative way of looking at peacebuilding that has broad applications. In the same way that gender dynamics are region-specific, perceptions of peace and security are as well. Subsequently, assessments that focus on issues related to how Palestinian men and women interpret sumud in divergent ways are vital. The proposed inclusive gender analysis provides a forward-looking understanding of peacebuilding, which can lead to more affective policy that holds the promise of overall improvement in the welfare of all affected populations.
Furthermore, given the relatively unexplored nature of the proposed research topic, the results of this study will add a crucial dimension towards a more holistic understanding of the construction and assumptions of gender identities as they relate and contribute to grassroots peacebuilding. This research will fill a gap in the literature — which focuses almost exclusively on the nexus between women, gender and peacebuilding — by incorporating men into the equation. Moreover, the research aims to develop a re-formulation of the topic of “gender and peacebuilding” which contributes to a transformative peacebuilding approach. This emerging gender inclusive model represents an innovative way of looking at peacebuilding that has broad applications. The proposed inclusive gender analysis provides a forward-looking understanding of peacebuilding, which will lead to overall improvement in the welfare of all affected populations as well as having important bearing on policy interventions.
In order to collect data for this research, I will be interviewing individuals working in various peacebuilding organizations and occupying a variety of peacebuilding roles within a variety of organizations in the West Bank. Effort will be made to interview individuals from across the West Bank in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron in the hopes of representing a cross-section of the society. An equal number of men and women will be interviewed in order to obtain sex desegregated gender-balanced information. Participants will be selected through a combination of two methods. Quota sampling will be applied in order to ensure an equal balance of male and female participants. Furthermore, I will make use of quota sampling to establish a diverse regional representation of participants. Snowball sampling will be used so that informants (active peacebuilders in the region), with whom the researcher has already been in contact with, can use their social networks to refer the researcher to other individuals who could potentially participate. When potential participants are identified I, the researcher, will send a letter detailing the research objectives and procedures in order to formally invite the individual to participate in the study. If individual agrees, I will obtain an informed consent form.
In order to qualify to participate in the research, participants must be between the ages of 19 years old and 60 years old. They must reside within the West Bank and work as a ‘peacebuilder’ as defined in the working definition of peacebuilding employed in this research. Participants must be able to commit to the necessary time required and must be available to clarify any statement the researcher may have during transcription and/or coding phase of research. Although a signed informed consent form is obligatory, participants are free to withdraw from the research at any time. The procedures for withdraw will be shared with the participants in the consent form.
This research will employ a qualitative research design which will aid in highlighting the socially constructed nature of gender, peacebuilding, and sumud. This design is the most appropriate method for this study as qualitative research provides “a means of understanding the complexity of a situation by exploring the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social problem” (Creswell, 2009, p.4). The nature of the research questions and the objectives of this research necessitates such as approach as I aim to understand individuals thoughts, feelings, and interpretations. Furthermore, qualitative research has been associated with a critical feminist sensitivity, best allowing women’s and men’s voices to be heard (Bryman, 2008).
Data collection will draw on three methods: focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. Focus group discussions will enable me to collect data from multiple individuals simultaneously in order to identify “salient dimensions of complex social stimuli” (Lunt, 1996, p. 81) which will then be extracted to draft informed questions for semi-structured interviews. By using focus group discussions I hope to gain important insight from the interactions that occur among the participants. Furthermore, due to the large number of participants involved in focus group discussions, this method will increasing the overall number of participants in my research, thus increasing the sample size and subsequently the validity of findings. I, the researcher, will act as the moderator in the group and will be responsible for facilitating the discussion, prompting members to speak, and encouraging all the members to participate.
Semi-structured interviews will allow for open-ended questions to evolve over the interview process. As Miller & Salkind (2002) ascertain, “[o]pen-ended questions are appropriate and powerful under conditions that require probing of attitude and reaction formations and ascertaining information that is interlocked in a social system or personality structure” (p. 3). Therefore, this design is appropriate in order to understand Palestinians perspectives on gender, peacebuilding and sumud. Furthermore, being cognizant of the fact that that every open-ended question will take an undetermined amount of time, the semi-structured design will allow me, the researcher, to tailor questions ‘on the fly’ to ensure interview stays within the given time frame. This design also awards me the leeway to probe at emerging themes throughout the interviews.
Participant observation will be utilized throughout my three-month stay in the West Bank during which data collection and analysis will take place. In addition to visiting field locations I will also be sitting in on meetings and gatherings of peacebuilders and engaging in their daily activities for the duration of my time in the West Bank. As location and context is pivotal to understanding behaviors and beliefs, participant observation will allow me to integrate observed behaviors into the physical Palestinian context, thus leading to a greater understanding of how the local setting and the behavior interact. Participant observation will open up possibilities for me to “check definitions of terms that participants use in interviews, observe events that informants may be unable or unwilling to share when doing so would be impolitic, impolite, or insensitive, and observe situations informants have described in interviews” (Kawulich, 2005, p. 4) in hopes of discovering aspects of social scenes that use rules and norms that the participants may experience without explicitly being aware of. Data will be collected in the form of notes in some case during observation, however predominantly shortly following observation period.
Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions will be conducted in English and tape-recorded with the permission of the participants and later transcribed. All questionnaires and consent forms will be in both English and Arabic to ensure comprehension. Furthermore, an integrated multidisciplinary approach to the question of gender and peacebuilding roles is integral due to the wide range of factors affecting both. Therefore, the proposed research will be grounded in conceptual frameworks of peacebuilding, human security, and feminist critical theory.
Qualitative data will be interpreted through thematic analysis where a process of coding will be used to create established, meaningful patterns of themes. The analysis will be based on recall, notes taken, and transcripts from focus group discussions and interviews.
Focus group discussions will be analyzed using tape-based analysis and note-based analysis as opposed to the lengthy process of transcript-based analysis. The focus of this analysis will be on “keywords-in-context” in order to determine how words are used in context with other words. Onwuegbuzie et. al (2009) describe that “keywords-in-context represents an analysis of the culture of the use of the word” (p. 6). This technique will facilitate a context specific human security centered analysis of the discussion discourse and themes. The evaluation process will start by the generation of key words, phrases, and quotes. To be considered credible, themes included in the final analysis will be concerns that were raised by more than one participant in a single group, and, ideally, by participants in more than one group. Nonverbal data such as paralinguistic- variations in volume, pitch, and quality of voice, and kinesic- body movements or postures, will also be recorded and analyzed in order to deduce levels of consensus and dissent between focus group participants (Onwuegbuzie et. al, 2009, p. 10). The evaluation process will start by the generation of key words, phrases, and quotes.
Semi-structured interviews will undergo transcription-based analysis. Following transcribing the semi-structured interviews will undergo a process of tagging in order to identify key, codable words or phrases. Next, these ‘tags’ will be grouped into key themes that will be color-coded. Once all of the coding is completed I will decide what codes are most important and create categories/themes and sub-categories by collating many codes together. I will then label the categories and first analyze them and then describe the connection between them. This is where the fundamental key findings of my research will be found.
Analyzing data collected from participant observation will follow much the same process as the other qualitative data collected in the focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews. In view of the fact that participant observation data will be in the form of personal notes, I will rely on note-based analysis to produce key findings.
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The Foundation acknowledges that Emma Swan has successfully completed her project.