NATO’s About-Face: Adaptation to Gender Mainstreaming in an Alliance Setting


Hardt, Heidi, and Stéfanie von Hlatky. 2020. “NATO’s About-Face: Adaptation to Gender Mainstreaming in an Alliance Setting.” Journal of Global Security Studies 5 (1): 136–59.

Authors: Heidi Hardt, Stéfanie von Hlatky


Scholars of adaptation in global security studies have only recently focused attention on international security organizations (ISOs). Since the United Nations Security Council’s issuance of Resolution 1325, some ISOs have enacted changes to implement gender mainstreaming. The concept involves incorporating gender-based analyses in policy and planning and increasing women’s representation. Drawing on interviews with 71 elites and a dataset of 97 NATO gender guidelines, this article introduces an original argument for why NATO adapted to gender mainstreaming. Such adaptation is surprising given the military’s historical resistance to gender considerations and that civilian bodies typically enact reforms. Findings indicate that other ISOs were substantially influential in the process and that institutional incentives built-in to NATO’s military bodies drove military officials to steer implementation. Additionally, military elites perceived a link between gender mainstreaming and operational effectiveness, which further consolidated organization-wide adaptation. This study challenges long-held assumptions about militaries’ resistance to gender-related changes. It also offers one of the first empirical assessments of gender mainstreaming in an ISO.

Keywords: gender, NATO, adaptation, operations, military

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Security Sector Reform, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2020

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