The Commonwealth, Gender, and Peacekeeping


Holmes, Georgina. 2017. "The Commonwealth, Gender and Peacekeeping." The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 106 (4): 403-19.

Author: Georgina Holmes


Reflecting on the strategic commitment outlined in the Plan of Action for Gender Equality (2005–2015) and the priority issues of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, this article assesses the extent to which the Commonwealth as an institution is supporting troop- and police-contributing member states in addressing the gender imbalance in peacekeeping operations. Drawing on desk-based research, interviews with international policymakers and a statistical analysis of the International Peace Institute Peacekeeping Database, the article first outlines the Commonwealth’s gender and security policy perspective before examining datasets to determine the success of Commonwealth member states in integrating women into uniformed peacekeeping contingents between 2009 and 2015. The article observes that, in spite of a renewed optimism and drive to propel women into leadership positions in politics, the judiciary, public bodies and private companies, security-sector reform and the implementation of pillar one of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 are notably absent from the Commonwealth’s gender agenda. It is argued that this policy gap suggests that national and international security architecture is regarded as an accepted domain of male privilege. A lack of political will among Commonwealth heads of government to mainstream gender equality and facilitate structural transformation of national security organs and a chronically under resourced Commonwealth Secretariat limit the influence of the institution to that of arms-length promoter of international norms on women, peace and security.

Keywords: Commonwealth, gender, peacekeeping, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, gender mainstreaming, security organs

Topics: Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Peace and Security, Peacekeeping, Security Sector Reform, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2017

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