Gender Balance

Constrained Spaces for Islamic Feminism: Women’s Rights and the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan


Choudhury, Nusrat. 2007. “Constrained Spaces for  Islamic Feminism: Women’s Rights and the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan.” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 19: 155–99.

Author: Nusrat Choudhury


The Afghan Constitution of 2004 attempts a reconciliation between democracy, Islam, Islamic law, and women's rights. This raises much debate. Although the constitution guarantees equality and includes gender quotas, some fear that the balance struck is too precarious. For example, nothing prevents a judge from relying upon the Shari'a described in the constitution to emphasize the incompatibility between Islamic law and women's rights. The author therefore questions the viability of this legal combination.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Governance, Constitutions, Quotas, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2007

Gender Imbalance in Secondary Schools


Mugisha, Catherine Howgego. 2005. “Gender Imbalance in Secondary Schools.” Forced Migration Review 22: 32–33.

Author: Catherine Howgego Mugisha


Significantly fewer girls than boys attend schools in refugee camps. As the level of education increases, there is a corresponding decrease in the numbers of female participants. This has resulted in a severe gender imbalance in refugee secondary schools.

Topics: Education, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Balance

Year: 2005

Does the Presence of Women Really Matter? Towards Combating Male Sexual Violence in Peacekeeping Operations


Simic, Olivera. 2010. “Does the Presence of Women Really Matter? Towards Combating Male Sexual Violence in Peacekeeping Operations.” International Peacekeeping (13533312) 17 (2): 188–199.

Author: Olivera Simic


Women are being encouraged to join peacekeeping operations as sexual violence problem-solving forces while simultaneously undertaking a complex role as ‘protectors’ of local women from local men and male peacekeepers. Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, the UN has urged states to deploy more women. Among the implicit assumptions underlying these calls are that an increase in the representation of women in peacekeeping operations (PKOs) will lead to a decrease in the cases of HIV/AIDS, a decline in the number of brothels around peacekeeping bases, and a reduction in the number of babies fathered and abandoned by peacekeepers after their mission comes to an end. Evidence suggests that the presence of women peacekeepers can and does foster a change in male behaviour when women are deployed in PKOs. This article argues, however, that countering abuse should not be a substitute for the more encompassing goal of improving gender balance and equality in PKOs. While there is a need to combat sexual violence in PKOs, the responsibility for prevention should be on troop-contributing countries, which need to exercise accountability and prosecute sexual violence committed by their peacekeepers. Diverting responsibility to women does not address the problem of sexual violence in PKOs, or help eradicate its causes.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Women

Year: 2010

Increasing Operational Effectiveness in UN Peacekeeping: Toward a Gender-Balanced Force


Bridges, Donna, and Debbie Horsfall. 2009. “Increasing Operational Effectiveness in UN Peacekeeping: Toward a Gender-Balanced Force.” Armed Forces & Society 36 (1): 120–30.

Authors: Donna Bridges, Debbie Horsfall


In this article, the authors argue that an increased percentage of female military personnel on UN peacekeeping operations is beneficial to operational effectiveness. They establish a case for a greater proportion of female service personnel that is based on three main premises: (1) a force adequately representative of female service personnel in peacekeeping operations will combat sexual misconduct perpetrated by some male soldiers, (2) peacekeeping is a task of great consequence and is best served by a force representative of both genders, (3) a greater proportion of female military personnel engenders trust and improves the reputation of peacekeepers among local populations. Literature reviews, including media reviews, research, and policy reports compiled by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), other Western militaries, and the United Nations, inform the above assertions and are augmented by research data from interviews with female personnel from the ADF.

Keywords: peacekeeping, women, gender, Australian Defence Force

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence

Year: 2009

Mainstreaming Gender in Multidimensional Peacekeeping: A Field Perspective


Olsson, Louise. 2000. “Mainstreaming Gender in Multidimensional Peacekeeping: A Field Perspective.” International Peacekeeping 7 (3): 1–16. doi:10.1080/13533310008413846.

Author: Louise Olsson


Since the Beijing Conference in 1995, mainstreaming a gender perspective in the entire work of the United Nations has been a priority. This article presents a picture of the contemporary situation concerning the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in multidimensional peacekeeping operations. The main focus concerns female participation in the field which, historically, has been very low. Research indicates that more job opportunities for women exist in operations which contain a large civilian component, but that the military and police components remain mainly male. The article also argues that human rights and humanitarian assistance are two examples of areas of multidimensional peacekeeping operations where it is vital to consider the different needs of men and women.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gender Mainstreaming, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2000

The International Women’s Movement and Women’s Political Representation, 1893–2003


Paxton, Pamela, Melanie M. Hughes, and Jennifer L. Green. 2006. “The International Women’s Movement and Women’s Political Representation, 1893–2003.” American Sociological Review 71 (6): 898–920.

Authors: Pamela Paxton, Melanie M. Hughes, Jennifer L. Green


Women's political representation, once considered unacceptable by politicians and their publics, is now actively encouraged by powerful international actors. In this article, the authors ask how the growth and discourse of the international women's movement affected women's acquisition of political power over time. To answer this question, they use event history techniques to address women's political representation in more than 150 countries over 110 years (1893-2003). They consider multiple political outcomes: female suffrage, first female parliamentarian, and achievement of 10, 20, and 30 percent women in a country's national legislature. The findings show that increasing global pressure for the inclusion of women in international politics and the changing discourse of the international women's movement help to explain women's acquisition of these multiple political outcomes. Furthermore, by adding these concepts to traditional domestic models of women in politics, the authors demonstrate that country-level political, social structural, and cultural characteristics cause countries to act in conjunction with, or in opposition to, these global pressures. This is the first time that research on women in politics has considered such a comprehensive list of countries, time points, and outcomes.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Governance, International Organizations, NGOs, Political Participation, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2006

The Incorporation of Women in Peace Operations: A Regional Perspective for Latin America and the Caribbean


Donadio, Marcela. 2008. "The Incorporation of Women in Peace Operations: A Regional Perspective for Latin America and the Caribbean." The Pearson Papers 11 (2): 42-61. 

Author: Marcela Donadio


The participation of Latin American and Caribbean countries in peace operations has increased by 756 percent since the year 2000. However, peace operations continue to be seen as a military matter only. In Latin America and the Caribbean the participation of women in peace operations is directly linked to their incorporation into the military forces and the police and little has been done regionally to promote a discussion on the incorporation of women into these institutions. Given this context, this article examines the challenges to and opportunities for incorporating women in peace operations in general and within Latin American and Caribbean countries more specifically. The article argues that there exists a clear disposition among actors to address the challenges and to improve practices in all areas referring to peace operations, including the participation of women. The incorporation of women not only represents a sign of openness and democratisation ofLatin American and Caribbean institutions, but also suggests a much larger change in how Latin American and Caribbean countries view and understand peace operations. The incorporation of actors other than the military, including civilians, police and women, is emerging as the cultural and political undertaking of the future.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping, Security Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America, South America

Year: 2008

Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation


Wängnerud, Lena. 2009. "Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation."Annual Review of Political Science 12: 51-69.

Author: Lena Wängnerud


This essay reviews two research programs. The first focuses on variations in the number of women elected to national parliaments in the world (descriptive representation), and the second focuses on effects of women's presence in parliament (substantive representation). The theory of the politics of presence (Phillips 1995) provides reasons for expecting a link between descriptive and substantive representation. The safest position would be to say that results are “mixed” when it comes to empirical support for the theory of the politics of presence. However, when a large number of studies covering a wide set of indicators on the importance of gender in the parliamentary process are piled together, the picture that emerges shows that female politicians contribute to strengthening the position of women's interest.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Governance, Quotas, Political Participation

Year: 2009

Women, Quotas and Politics


Dahlerup, Drude. 2006. Women, Quotas and Politics. London: Routledge.

Author: Drude Dahlerup


Given the slow speed at which the number of women in politics is growing, different policy measures are being introduced to reach gender balance in political institutions. Quotas present one such mechanism to increase, and safeguard, women’s presence in parliaments and are now being introduced all over the world. What are the arguments for and against the use of quotas? What types of quota have led to substantial increase

in women’s political representation in practice? Which quotas work best in different electoral systems and how can they be effectively enforced? This chapter examines the world of electoral quotas and the ways in which quotas can lead, and have led, to historic leaps in women’s political representation.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Quotas, Political Participation, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2006

Engendering Political Decision-Making


Hatchard, John. 1998. “Engendering Political Decision-Making.” Journal of African Law 42 (1): 141–43.

Author: John Hatchard


In November, 1996, the Fifth Meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs recommended that member countries be encouraged to achieve a target of not less than 30 per cent of women in decision-making in the political, public and private sectors by the year 2005. This is an ambitious target for, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the proportion of women involved in politics world-wide declined from 12.1 per cent in 1985 to 11 per cent in 1995. The situation throughout Africa is especially bleak for, as the following table indicates, with the notable exceptions of Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Eritrea and Uganda, most African countries fall well below the world average.

Topics: Gender, Gender Balance, Governance, Political Participation Regions: Africa

Year: 1998


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