Review of Latest Research in Women, Peace & Security. Second Quarter 2022, April-June.
August 5, 2022
- Michanne Steenbergen (2022) Female Ex-Combatants, Empowerment, and Reintegration: Gendered Inequalities in Liberia and Nepal, Routledge.
In this recently published monograph, Steenbergen provides a much-needed insight into the effects of male-centric Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) processes on female fighters in the aftermath of violent conflicts. Through two detailed case studies, including personal stories and interviews, Steenberger sets out a new and important theoretical discussion of the ways in which mobilisation and demobilisation can both empower and disempower women combatants. She argues that how DDR officials "narrate female ex-combatants in limited and gendered ways" not only has damaging effects on individual lives but endangers the entire peacebuilding process. Such studies of the gendered impacts of post-conflict reintegration are sorely needed to better understand how best to help women readjusting to peacetime civilian life.
- Emma Cunningham (2022) Women in Policing: Feminist Perspectives on Theory and Practice, Routledge.
In this unusual and highly readable text, Cunningham analyses debates surrounding the role of women in contemporary policing by drawing on the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft. Through a dialogue between Wollstonecraft's thought and the lived experience of 23 British policewomen, Cunningham shows how the "historical ideas which have been used to limit women’s employment and advancement in many fields" continue to inform baseless arguments against women's suitability for protection work in the 21st Century. This short book exposes longstanding narratives of sameness and difference which inform gendered thinking in contemporary police forces. It is ultimately a call for "a feminist review and critique of policing" to address the deep-seated myths which prevent crucial institutional change.
- Breslin, R.A., Daniel, S. and Hylton, K. (2022) “Black Women in the Military: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Correlates of Sexual Harassment”, in Public Admin Review, Vol. 82, pp. 410-419
This research article should be read as an urgent call to integrate intersectional perspectives in analyses of women in military spaces. As in any work space, not all women’s experiences are the same, and servicepeople situated at intersections of societal prejudice and discrimination - such as black women - typically bear a heavier burden than others. Within the US military, for example, the authors find that nearly a fifth of all black servicewomen experienced sexual harassment in 2018, leading them to call for greater recognition of intersectional challenges to women’s empowerment in military settings.
- Maria Stern, Sanna Strand (2022) “Periods, Pregnancy, and Peeing: Leaky Feminine Bodies in Swedish Military Marketing”, in International Political Sociology, Volume 16, Issue 1
Sweden’s military has begun to tackle one of the oldest tropes in female disempowerment: the “leaky” female body as a hindrance to women’s participation and equality in the public sphere. In a recent recruitment campaign, the military has attempted to prove to young Swedes that a female body is no obstacle to military service. Stern and Strand’s fascinating analysis unpicks how these marketers have reworked the military cliche of ‘turning boys into men’ to produce a female-centric version which portrays military service as a means to conquer the ‘limitations’ of the female body: young recruits can “mastering their fleshy vulnerabilities” through the discovery of a fully empowered military body.
- Eleanor Gordon (2022) "Careless Talk Costs Lives: The Causes and Effects of Marginalising Peacebuilding Practitioners with Caring Responsibilities", in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.
Gordon's compelling assessment of the perils of non-inclusive work practices should be required reading for everyone in the development, security and peace sectors. The Coronavirus pandemic has drawn attention to the possibilities and practicalities of remote and flexible working in a range of sectors, but Gordon argues that the uptake has been unnecessarily slow in peacework. Too much expert knowledge and skill is being wasted through archaic workplace expectations which needlessly inhibit mothers, new parents and anyone with caring responsibilities from progressing in their careers.
- Robert U. Nagel, Kate Fin & Julia Maenza (2022) "You Cannot Improve What You Do Not Measure – The Gendered Dimensions of UN PKO Data", in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.
It is now accepted by scholars and UN leadership alike that increasing the number of women in peacekeeping operations is crucial to improving the effectiveness of missions. It is puzzling therefore that the UN data collection processes still do not adequately mainstream gender, nor collect fully gender-disaggregated accounts of local stakeholders. As the authors show, this poses problems for assessing peacekeeping performance and hinders detailed analysis of the impact of women in peacekeeping.
- Sara E. Davies & Jacqui True (2022) "Follow the money: Assessing Women, Peace, and Security through financing for gender-inclusive peace", in Review of International Studies.
Lamenting the consistent under-investment in gender-equal peacebuilding, Davies and True point out that better financing policies are hindered by a severe lack of research, knowledge and data on funding the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Through an examination of the circumstances of peace agreements in Columbia and the Philippines, the authors reveal significant gaps between donor rhetoric and the reality of their financial contributions. Although in both cases women were mobilised from all levels of society and their impact celebrated internationally, the failure to maintain promised funding seriously endangers the longevity of the gender-sensitive peace.
- Hendrik Quest (2022) "Moving Beyond Antagonisms: Changing Masculinities in Post-Conflict Militaries", in International Peacekeeping.
Quest's paper argues convincingly in favour of leveraging post-conflict Security Sector Reform (SSR) to enact structural change in a society's gender relations. As the case of Liberia shows, where destructive masculinities are challenged in a consistent and intentional way, new configurations of gender roles can begin to become established within a programme for sustainable peace. This is particularly notable in the way that the reformed security sector now particularly valorises Liberian peacekeepers deployed abroad as prestigious examples of soldiers controlling and restraining violence rather than perpetrating it.
- Nur Azizah, Hadidah Sallimi, Ainun Dwiyanti (2022) The Increasing Number of Female Troops in Indonesia’s Peacekeeping Operations: Why Women’s Presence Matters?, in Journal of Islamic World and Politics, Vol 6, Issue 1.
This study uses the UN Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda to analyse Indonesia's renewed commitment to increasing the proportion of women serving in its armed forces. The authors' analysis reveals that the number of female Indonesian peacekeepers has been increasing year on year since 2008 as a direct result of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS.
- Aditi Suresh Mane & Shashikala Gurpur (2022) "An uneven Battlefield where Gender Matters: A Critical Analysis of the Reintegration Programme of Girl Child Soldiers in Global Armed Conflicts", in Journal of Positive School Psychology, Vol. 6, Issue 3.
If adult female combatants are typically excluded from DDR programmes and child soldiers are frequently forgotten in the aftermath of violent conflicts, then the plight of the girl child soldier is particularly terrible. This very short piece briefly touches on a number of associated issues which are in need of much deeper and broader analysis.
- Sara de Jong (2022) “Segregated brotherhood: the military masculinities of Afghan interpreters and other locally employed civilians”, in International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 24, Issue 2, pp. 243-263.
In a rare insight into the intersections between gender, security and language services, de Jong investigates the precarious lives of civilian interpreters employed by foreign militaries. The skills, knowledge and bravery of these language specialists continues to be overlooked by soldiers (and indeed academia, policymakers and wider society) who tend to view interpreters as mere ‘translation machines’. In this interweaving discussion of mistrust, conditional brotherhood and economic precarity, de Jong makes a compelling case for more detailed research into the gender dynamics of language professionals in war and recognition of these military employees as legitimate security actors.
- Josephine P. Perez & Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo (2022) "Positioning Women's Inclusion in Peace Negotiations: The Landmark Case of the Philippines", in Peace and Conflict Studies, Vol. 28, Issue 2.
Perez and Ofreneo investigate how and why the peace process in the Philippines successfully included women in meaningful and impactful ways. Through innovative positioning methodology, the authors draw out from their interviews a range of cultural, political and narrative factors which contributed to the progress of the negotiations.
- Thomasin Tumpale Gondwe & Laika Nakanga (2022) "Increasing the Role of Women in Peace and Security in Africa", in Dan Kwali (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainable Peace and Security in Africa. Palgrave.
In this chapter focussing on the African continent, Gondwe and Nakanga address a broad range of women's security work within the WPS Agenda, including peacekeeping, field operations and military gender advisors. The authors offer a selection of recommendations for improving operational effectiveness through the inclusion of women and suggest how women's meaningful participation in peace and security can be improved across African contexts.
- Sofia Patel (2022) "Representations of women and gender in DFID’s development-security-counterterrorism nexus", in European Journal of International Security.
The 2018 UK National Action Plan on WPS was the country's first to consider gendered dimensions of counter-terrorism and recognise how discourses surrounding violent extremism impact upon women and girls. In this research paper, Patel builds on feminist institutionalism to offer critical insight into how changes within DFID reflected a wider securitisation of humanitarian aid in the wake of 9/11. She demonstrates that although lip-service was paid to the UNSC Resolution 1325, it was not until 2015 (following a series of high-profile cases of extremist radicalisation) that UK counter-terrorism policy finally began to acknowledge the active engagement of women in these networks
- Global MOWIP Report (June 2022) Fit-for-the-Future Peace Operations: Advancing Gender Equality to Achieve Long-term and Sustainable Peace. DCAF, Geneva.
Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations is a new research methodology developed in collaboration with the Elsie Initiative for analysing barriers to women in peacekeeping roles. In addition to a central research report, a number of national studies have already been conducted with police and military peacekeeping contingents from Zambia, Uruguay and Senegal.
CONFERENCES & EVENTS
- Perceptions of Women Peacekeepers (IPI) May 2022
A forum event hosted by the International Policy Institute in New York.
Watch the recording.
- The Wilson Centre "Role of Masculinities in International Security", online panel event.
Panellists address how peacekeepers and national militaries can address the problems of excessively violent masculinity and encourage healthier attitudes towards women and the LGBTQ+ community.
Watch the recording.
- DCAF "Military Gender Advisors: Opportunities, Challenges and Ways Forward"
A discussion of the benefits of specialist gender advisor roles in military contingents.
Watch the recording.
Alice MacLeod is a PhD student researching intersections between language, gender and security.
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