Women, Peace and Security after Europe's ‘Refugee Crisis’


Holvikivi, Aiko, and Audrey Reeves. 2020. “Women, Peace and Security after Europe's ‘Refugee Crisis.’” European Journal of International Security 5 (2): 135–54.

Authors: Aiko Holvikivi , Audrey Reeves


Since its inception in 2000, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda has conceptualised the conflictaffected woman as a subject worthy of international attention, protection, and inclusion. In the wake of Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’, this article examines how the remit of WPS has broadened from women in conflict zones to refugees in Europe’s borderlands. A minority of European states now attend, in their WPS policy, to these conflict-affected women on the move. This inclusion productively challenges established notions of where conflict-affectedness is located. It exposes Europe as not always peaceful and safe for women, especially refugees who flee war. Conversely, the dominant tendency to exclude refugees from European WPS policy is built on a fantasy of Europe as peaceful and secure for women, which legitimises the fortressing of Europe and obscures European states’ complicity in fuelling insecurity at their borders, cultivating an ethos of coloniality around the WPS agenda. The inclusion of refugees is no panacea to these problems. If focused solely on protection, it repositions European states as protective heroes and conflict-affected women as helpless victims. The WPS framework nonetheless emphasises conflict-affected women’s participation in decision-making and conflict prevention, opening space for recognising the refugee women as political actors.

Keywords: refugees, women, peace and security, conflict, Europe, borders

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Conflict, Conflict Prevention, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Political Participation, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Europe

Year: 2020

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