CSW68: Key Lessons from SecurityWomen Engagements toward Advancing Gender Perspectives in Security Sector Transformation

June 8, 2024

The 68thannual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) took place from 11-22 March 2024, with the theme, “accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” Therefore, the overarching ambition of this year’s CSW68 was to harness the enormous potential of multilateralism, where civil societies form a vital partner with States to redefine global governance.

In our continuous efforts to partner with critical stakeholders in advancing gender perspectives in security sector transformation, representatives of SecurityWomen at CSW68 participated in most plenary sessions and public and private roundtable discussions. One such notable roundtable that was focused on developing globally transformative mechanisms in military and security institutions to enhance the equitable participation of women was the “private roundtable on advancing gender equality through the implementation of gender perspectives in military institutions,” co-organized by The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and Women in International Security (WIIS), on March 14th, 2024.

During this session, stakeholders not only acknowledged the overwhelming challenges, including abuse and rights violations faced by women in conflict-prone zones, but also the historical, cultural, and institutional barriers that prevent women from fully participating in peace and security operations. Despite these challenges, member states agreed that the significant role of women in states where they are given reasonably equal participation in security operations remains incredible in the success of security operations. Ariela Blatter, President & CEO of WIIS, stated that beyond negative stereotypes against women in security institutions, women bring talent, skills, insights, and experience that strengthen security operations, which makes peace and security efforts more effective.

The Challenges

In spite of the potential of women in security sector transformation, stakeholders noted structural and institutional challenges that undermine the advancement of gender equality insecurity institutions across partner nations. Observations and studies have revealed a dearth of political will by member states, a lack of clear gender goals and evidence-based policies, a lack of financial and human resources for gender-sensitive policy implementation, limited social auditing and accountability mechanisms, among others, have constituted profound challenges to women inclusion to transcend the changing character of patriarchal security institutions.

Lessons learned, what next?

While member states shared their efforts, experiences, and pathways towards transformative structural change within their security institutions to advance gender equality, key recommendations were made from lessons learned and shared aspirations to achieve inclusive and sustainable security sector transformation that put women at the center of institutional change at local national, regional and international levels. These include:

1.    Developing and implementing a theory of change: Conscious efforts by member states and partner nations in advancing gender equality in military and security institutions.

2.    Gender-sensitive deployment: deployment that includes women allows communities in operational zones to accept the military and security forces easily.

3.    Active focal point units and officers: the necessity of personnel working towards the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda is core to the institutional transformation agenda.

4.    Structural and Equipment Adaptability: Having instruments adaptable to women in tactical and operational frontline duties.

5.    Comprehensive institutional approach: Initiating policies and programs that enhance attitudinal and cultural change within military institutions and creating formidable and sustainable accountability and social auditing mechanisms.

6.    Effective Program Design: Ensure adequate training and briefing for tactical and operational commanders on gender sensitivity in operations. Engagement with military planners and strengthening partnerships and interoperability provide opportunities for joint, combined, and interagency exercises to learn and imbibe shared values and gender-sensitive operational doctrines.

In conclusion, advancing gender equality through the implementation of a gender perspective in military and security institutions not only serves the purpose of advancing global women's rights but has the potency to drive tremendous change in the local, national, regional, and international security sector that would enable these institutions to meet their mandate for global peace and security. Undoubtedly, SecurityWomen is poised to continue its vigorous efforts with partner nations and CSOs to advance this conversation and advocacy.


Augustine Aboh

Research Associate,SecurityWomen

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