Review of Latest Research in Women, Peace & Security. Final Quarter 2023, October - December

January 17, 2024


  1. Judith Goetz, Stefanie Mayer (ed.s) (2023) Global Perspectives on Anti-Feminism: Far-Right and Religious Attacks on Equality and Diversity. Edinburgh University Press.

    In this timely collection, the contributors expose worrying trends emerging across the globe. In so doing, they encourage us to remember that it is not only feminist networks which cross national boundaries, but anti-feminist ones too. The introduction, by editors Goetz and Mayer, offers an excellent general overview, clearly setting out the fluctuating international mood towards the concept of ‘gender’ since the 1990s. They also usefully point out the need to think of ‘anti-feminism’ as a reactive ideological movement which “needs to be distinguished from misogyny, the idea of the inferiority of women, as well as from sexism, which signifies the structural discrimination of women [...]” (p. 7). Chapters of particular note include Simon Copland’s ‘Weak Men and the Feminisation of Society: Locating the Ideological Glue between the Manosphere and the Far-Right’ (p. 116) and Hira Naaz’s ‘The Anti-Feminist Narrative of the Hindu Right in India’ (p.160), which includes an interesting discussion of military masculinity in contemporary India.
    Whole book available as an open access pdf.

  1. Elizabeth Pearson (2023) Extreme Britain: Gender, Masculinity and Radicalisation. Hurst Publishing.

    In this fascinating study, Pearson, a lecturer on violent extremism at Royal Holloway, presents nearly a decade’s worth of research into Britain’s radical right. Although the emergence of incel terrorism in recent years has forced the gendered nature of violent extremism into undeniable focus, Pearson argues that gender is everywhere: “a fundamental organising principle of contemporary violent groups” to the extent that radicalisation is always a “project of masculinity”. This idea that extremist men and women operate within the structure of a larger "masculinity project" is central to Pearson’s thesis, and drives her analysis of white nationalist and Islamist extremism in contemporary Britain. Since her findings rely on interviews with extremists, Pearson must also address the ethical difficulties arising from quoting these harmful ideologies in print. This results in an interesting methodological discussion, which contrasts presence of empathy, understanding, and condemnation in her interview experiences. This discussion emerges as an output just as valuable as her actual findings.


“As these negative trends turn back the clock on women’s rights, they also turn back the clock of history, setting back both gender equality and global peace” (Report of SecGen on WPS, p. 2).

  1. Report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security (S/2023/725), October 2023

    The Secretary-General’s annual report on WPS hopes for “a radical shift and tangible results in women’s meaningful participation in peacemaking, peacekeepers and peacebuilding” (p. 2) but admits setbacks in the number of women included in UN-led peace negotiations last year.  Notably, the report mentions that UN Women is currently developing a new tool for data gathering to track women’s involvement in peace processes and thus facilitate more systematic analysis of global trends.
    On inclusion in the security sector, the report acknowledges that discriminatory policies continue to limit opportunities for women’s active participation and training, but celebrates the fact that a quarter of police officers in the Central African Republic are now women despite ‘deep-seated patriarchal beliefs’.

  2. Nichole Georgeou, Karen Soldatic, Lida Ghahremanlou And Kerry Robinson (2023) Women, Peace and Security Advocacy Brief: Advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Indo-Pacific

    This policy brief by academics at Western Sydney University has arisen after a panel discussion event including women’s rights activists, representatives of research institutes and international diplomats. Much of the report focuses on the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on the WPS agenda, but attention is also given to NATO’s attempts to implement an institutional WPS policy and the intersection of disability with women’s experiences of conflict.

  3. Elena B. Stavrevska, Nattecia Nerene Bohardsingh, María Dolores Hernández Montoya, Tania Cecilia Martínez, Briana Mawby and Aliza Carns (ed.s) (2023) Addressing Chronic Violence from a Gendered Perspective: Fostering People-Centred Approaches at the National Level. Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice

    This report from the Institute for Peace and Justice highlights commonalities in women’s experiences of chronic violence across the globe. Whether violence is experienced in the home or in wider society, underlying structural violence connects otherwise disparate contexts. The analysis leads the authors to encourage policy makers to “explicitly consider violence as a continuum” and frame harmful cultural norms as sources of violence. Analysis of different legal frameworks is in each instance accompanied by a relevant case study, illustrating the challenges of application in different international environments.

    Available in English or Spanish.


  1. Sara J. Chehab (2023) ‘Feminist Foreign Policy and the War in Ukraine: Hollow Framework or Rallying Force?’, Journal of International Women's Studies, Vol. 25, issue 6. 
    The Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent war has unsurprisingly placed great strain on commitments to  recently-adopted Feminist Foreign Policies (FFPs). Chebab’s analysis shows how, in the face of imminent threat to territory, European states readily abandon the innovative intentions of FFP, instead falling back on traditional understandings of military power and defence, in which women are considered non-agents in need of protection. This prompts Chebab to call for the security scholars and policymakers to “develop a conceptual approach for what a FFP under duress and war would look like”. Without this, national security seems likely always to revert to established patterns of militarised, male-centric defence behaviours, reducing Feminist Foreign Policy to a tool only of peacetime. There is room, Chebab insists, for us to redefine state responses to war along more feminist lines, in the hope of ultimately peaceful, inclusive and socially equal outcomes.

  2. O. M. Kshirsagar (2023) 'Gender and Conflict in South Asia: Exploring Women's Voices and Experiences', in International Journal of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol. 1, issue 3.

    Through case studies and interviews, Kshirsagar reveals coping strategies of women caught up in conflict zones and reveals their involvement in peace and security in the region. The paper goes on to document women’s grassroots peacebuilding in South Asia through inter-community dialogue and mediation efforts, as well as impact lobbying formal peace processes. The article also addresses the implementation challenges for international legislation in many South Asian states, particularly where there is a lack of awareness both among security servicepeople and in the wider population.

  3. Zainab Monisola Olaitan (2023) The Representation of Women in African-Led Peace Support Operations, in Journal of International Peacekeeping.

    This research piece examines the participation of women in ‘peace support operations’ deployed by Rwanda and uses this as a case study for African-led operations more broadly. Olaitan calls on peace missions to give greater attention to gender concerns from the outset of the mission by including these explicitly in their mandates. She also calls on the African Union to improve its consideration of women in all its post-conflict reconstruction measures and advocates for the gathering of better gender dis-aggregated data by peace operation, to improve the transparency of reporting.

  4. Izadora Xavier do Monte (2023) ‘“The thing with sexual exploitation”: gender representations and the Brazilian military in an UN peace mission’, in Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional. Vol 66, issue 2.

    Do Monte’s fascinating collection of interviews with Brazilian peacekeepers in Haiti reveals how ideals of gender mainstreaming in UN peacekeeping policy can be distorted and reapplied on the ground. Her interviews with male peacekeepers reveal how the overwhelming emphasis on preventing sexual exploitation results in a general perception among soldiers that any discussion of ‘gender’ really means ‘avoiding women’. Furthermore, the contrast between the soldiers’ perception that the problem is “not with Brazil” and the fact that less than 1% of Brazilian troops in peace operations are female is strikimg. Ultimately, she argues, the Brazilian mission’s focus on limiting its troops' contact with women is far less an effort to ensure civilian safety than a strategic curation of Brazil's national image as a competent and reliable international actor in the eyes of the West.

  5. Valentine M. Moghadam (2023) Women, Peace, and Security in the Middle East: An Agenda of Empty Promises?, in Journal of Peace and War Studies, 5th Edition (October), pp. 36-60.

    Moghadam’s analysis of National Action Plans on WPS published by states across the MENA region argues that the majority are more aspirational than they are actually applicable; more symbolic than realistic policy frameworks. After a detailed analysis of policies across the region, she concludes that the WPS agenda needs to include more elements of Human Security (holisitc approaches to security in its widest sense). She also arguees that the UN agenda needs to demand from nation states the inclusion of more clearly defined budgets for implementation as well as commitment to timescales, so that these policies leave the page and enter society.

  6. Bullama Samuel Bulus (2023) Gender Mainstreaming: UNSCR 1325 as a Global Response to Mainstreaming Women in Peace Building, its Challenges and the Role of Religious Leaders, in Kashere Journal of Politics and International Relations. Vol. 1, issue 2 (December).

    In this piece for the nascent Kashere Journal of Politics and IR, Bulus poses an interesting question which is frequently overlooked in the Global North: what is the role of religious leaders in the implementation of the WPS? As powerful actors in their communities and wider societies, religious leaders at local and national level have significant influence over social change and can advocate for the acceptance of top-down policy. Although this part of the argument is somewhat underdeveloped - only appearing in a short section at the end of the paper - the points raised are strong, particularly with regard to raising awareness of the WPS agenda through the natural communication channels of religious communities. This is certainly a gap in scholarship and policy research which deserves greater focus.
  7. Simon Carpenter (2023) The Missing Piece: Lessons from Ukraine for Integrating Masculinities in Women, Peace and Security. From IPI Global Observatory (

    Carpenter draws on his experience as gender officer for the European monitoring mission to Ukraine to argue convincingly for the need to include more detailed understanding of men and masculinities within WPS policy. Carpenter argues that willingness and suitability of Ukranian adults to participate in military service is  not simply defined by the traditional gender binary: the number of women serving in the armed forces has more than doubled to 60,500 women while over 12,000 men have been reported trying to evade the draft by leaving the country illegally. The piece also highlights the oft-overlooked participation of LGBTGI+ individuals in national defence, and the resulting implications for their status in Ukranian society, as well as their experiences as targets of homophobic Russian aggression. He also points out the high proportion of male victims in reported cases of war-related sexual violence in the conflict zone last year. Towards the end of the piee, Carpenter commends the United Kingdom’s most recent National Action Plan on WPS for going further than any previous NAP on the positionality of men as both perpetrators and victims of sexualised violence, but ultimately calls for future NAPs to help craft a more positive vision of masculinity, in contrast to harmful forms normalised in military settings.

Literature Review compiled by Alice MacLeod.

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