From 2000-2004, McGill University’s Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS) collaborated with the Women’s Centre of Montreal (WCM) and various other organisations in an action-research programme on gender and human security issues (GHSI) in the context of war and reconstruction. Our interdisciplinary team of researchers and activists worked locally with women refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants in Montreal from various countries of armed conflict and internationally with women’s organisations primarily in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Combining human security - that is the protection of civilians across borders - and gender - the different ways in which women and men are affected - allows us to analyze among other issues the impact of gender inequality on the continued insecurity in war-torn societies. Our action-research in a community-university alliance addressed the personal needs (especially untreated trauma) and rights of women while also examining the socio-economic and political context of violent conflicts.
At the time of writing (October 2003), there were over 37 civil wars taking place in different parts of the globe, primarily in the so-called ‘developing world’, where most of the world’s poor reside.