Contesting Feminism’s Institutional Doubles: Troubling the Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security Agenda


Otto, Dianne. 2019. "Contesting Feminism’s Institutional Doubles: Troubling the Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security Agenda." In Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field, edited by Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouché, and Hila Shamir, 200-29. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Author: Diane Otto


“I start by examining the Security Council’s preoccupation with sexual violence in four of the eight WPS resolutions, which is also a feature of GF elsewhere in international law and institutions. I argue that, in this context, the focus on women’s sexual vulnerability has enabled a consolidation of protective stereotypes of women that underpin and justify military ways of thinking, which reassert what Iris Marion Young has described as the 'logic of masculinist protection,' which does a lot of useful symbolic work for the Security Council, while seriously undermining feminist logics of social justice and peace. Next, I discuss the other four WPS resolutions, which I refer to as the 'women’s empowerment resolutions.' While these resolutions are also informed by SV GF in their attention to sexual violence, my argument is that they have also created footholds for other strands of feminist thinking— informed by postcolonial, materialist, and queer perspectives— to challenge the power of GF to dictate institutional feminist priorities. I then go on to argue that despite the dominance of SV GF, more transformative feminist ideas are slowly gaining ground because of the vision and activism of grassroots feminist groups, organized often through regional and international NGOs like WILPF and the NGO Working Group. The tenacity of bottom-up feminist logics of social justice and peace is evident in the Global Study, which was undertaken to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of SCR 1325, and the Civil Society Survey that was commissioned to inform the study. I conclude that grassroots activism, though vital, is not enough. For feminist logics of social justice and peace to make inroads into international institutions by re-signifying discursive institutional practices, support from 'friends' within governmental and legal institutions is necessary, which always involves compromise and retrenchment and, in the contemporary moment, a reckoning with SV GF. Even then, feminist logics may be lost in translation, but this is a continuing struggle” (Otto 2019, 203-4).

Topics: Feminisms, Feminist Foreign Policy, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, International Law, International Organizations, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Sexual Violence, SV against Women, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2019

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