Armenian Convention Center, Guild Hall, 630 2nd Avenue (at 35th St), NEW YORK 10016
UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Wednesday 11th March 2020
organised by SecurityWomen
Panel of speakers:
Brenda Oppermann, Research Fellow, U.S. Naval War College, on leadership, organizational change and women, peace and security
Garima Bhatnagar, Chief of Mission Management, Police Division, UN Dept of Peace Operations
Njoki Rahab Kinyanjui, Chief of Gender Unit & Senior Gender Adviser, UN Dept of Peace Operations
April Pham, Senior Gender Advisor, UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Fatima Khan, CSW Youth Delegate from the UK
What do we mean by ‘Feminization of Peace and Security’?
It’s critical that women, from across the world, get to play a greater part in the protection and security of citizens, and in working towards building a more peaceful world. Threats to human security range from localised breakdown of society to organised conflict to widespread terrorism. Currently, the security sector (policing, armed forces, cyber-security, peacekeeping, private security) is estimated to be 97 percent male dominated. Little attention has been paid to how gendered relations of power manifest in security institutions. On the other side, gendered security needs, in particular for women and girls, are ignored. How much better security, to enable the rule of law, could be for all members of society if gender is properly understood, mainstreamed and embedded throughout law and justice systems.
Women are vital components in establishing more effective police and military peacekeeping. Could women security guards provide better security to refugee/IPD camps where families are reluctant to let their daughters leave the home for fear of attack? It is argued that women’s greater participation can provide a better security and ultimately a safer world for all to live in. Security sector reform initiatives should seek to include the integration of women to bring about transformation from hyper-masculine militarised masculinity.
There are many barriers:
- Cultural factors in societies that perpetuate patriarchal gender formations, and perpetuate discrimination against women in the workplace
- Women’s reluctance to be part of a male dominated working environment or participate in what is seen as ‘men’s work’.
- Women are seen primarily as victims in a dualistic worldview that places men as protectors and breadwinners.
- Women’s contribution to Peacekeeping seeks to overcome, not only operating in a male dominated environment, but one that is often hostile and unpredictable.
- Sexual harassment and abuse. This is seen both within security institutions and organisations, and the impact of such behaviour on communities outside.
The #MeToo movement highlighted how power is used to abuse and denigrate women who have the temerity to seek to advance their careers.
- The myth of the demands and importance placed on Physical Strength of individual security professionals
- Political conditions which encourage toxic masculinity and exacerbate the likelihood of conflict
- Lack of professionalism and leadership in security organisations, and non-adherence to acceptable standards of behaviour
- Lack of female role models, and too many harmful stereotypes
- Lack of funding for meaningful and transformative gender training of security forces
Although the barriers seem many, solutions are worked out every day through grassroots organisations where problems are felt first hand and people learn. Women know what is needed to make their world a safer one, where work goes on to de-escalate and resolve conflicts from household level to community to national scale.
Young people, particularly girls, need to know what to study at school, college and university to go into the many and varied careers which make up the security sector. We need to see established a pipeline of talent in all areas of security to enable women to reach leadership positions which will bring about the change of organisational culture needed.
SecurityWomen held a Conference on Women’s Participation in the Security Sector in London in June 2019 which highlighted the differing practices, policies and stories around security in the world. The discussions and film from this event is available on the SecurityWomen app (search SecurityWomen in the App Store).
25 years ago, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action projected a path to a more gender equal world. Chapter IV on Strategic Objectives and Actions separate out in Section E, the issues on Women and Armed Conflict which states that peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men and development. It is 20 years since UN SRC 1325 passed, calling for women’s equal participation in conflict resolution and peace-building, and we are 5 years into the sustainable development agenda, with focus on SDG 5 and 16.
This event is about knowledge transfer, providing information, best practice and examples of where women have contributed to keeping and building peace, and where the gaps are. We are a long way from achieving gender equity and so this event is intended to inspire and re-energise for the work that needs to be done.