Human Security

The Nuclear Ban and the Patriarchy: a Feminist Analysis of Opposition to Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons


Acheson, Ray. 2019. “The Nuclear Ban and the Patriarchy: a Feminist Analysis of Opposition to Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons.” Critical Studies on Security 7 (1): 78-82.

Author: Ray Acheson


Opposed by some of the world’s most powerful states, the coalition of actors that promoted the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons encountered rigid international power structures. These structures are in part maintained through the deployment of patriarchal tactics and rhetoric to suppress the perspectives and agency of those who might challenge those in a dominant position. In this way, banning nuclear weapons can be read as an act of challenging patriarchy and building space for alternative approaches to politics, including feminist and human-security-based approaches.

Topics: Feminisms, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, International Organizations, Security, Human Security, Weapons /Arms, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Year: 2019

Women and Nation-Building


Benard, Cheryl, Seth G. Jones, Olga Oliker, Cathryn Quantic Thurston, Brooke K. Stearns, and Kristen Cordell. 2008. Women and Nation-Building. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Authors: Cheryl Benard, Seth G. Jones, Olga Oliker, Cathryn Quantic Thurston, Brooke K. Stearns, Kristen Cordell


"The challenge of nation-building, i.e., dealing with the societal and political aftermaths of conflicts and putting new governments and new social compacts into place, has occupied much international energy during the past several decades. As an art, a process, and a set of competencies, it is still very much in an ongoing learning and experimentation phase. The RAND Corporation has contributed to the emerging knowledge base in this domain through a series of studies that have looked at nation-building enterprises led by the United States and others that were led by the United Nations and have examined the experiences gained during the reconstruction of specific sectors. Our study focuses on gender and nation-building. It considers this issue from two aspects: First, it examines gender-specific impacts of conflict and post-conflict and the ways in which events in these contexts may affect women differently than they affect men. Second, it analyzes the role of women in the nation-building process, in terms of both actual current practices, as far as these could be measured and ascertained, and possible outcomes that might occur if these practices were to be modified.

The study team first surveyed the broader literature on women in development, women and governance, women and conflict, and women in nation-building. It then focused on the case of Afghanistan. This case study was chosen for three reasons: First, it is contemporary, and it offers a longer nation-building “track record” and thus more data than does Iraq, the other contemporary case. Second, the relevant debate and decision line is easy to track because gender issues have been overtly on the table from the beginning of U.S. post-conflict involvement in Afghanistan, in part because of the Taliban’s equally overt prior emphasis on gender issues as a defining quality of its regime. Third, in contrast to earlier cases of nation-building, the issue of women’s inclusion is presently an official part of any development agenda, so that all the active agents in the nation-building enterprise have made conscious choices and decisions in that regard which can be reviewed and their underlying logic evaluated.

The study concludes with a broad set of analytic and policy recommendations. First, we identify the gaps in data collection and provide specific suggestions for improvement. Then, we recommend three shifts in emphasis that we believe are likely to strengthen the prospects of stability and enhance the outcomes of nation-building programs: a more genuine emphasis on the broader concept of human security from the earliest phases of the nation-building effort; a focus on establishing governance based on principles of equity and consistent rule of law from the start; and economic inclusion of women in the earliest stages of reconstruction activities” (Benard, Jones, Oliker, Thurston, Stearns, and Cordell 2008, xiii).

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction
2. The Security Dimension and Women
3. Planning and Implementing Programs for Women's Health and Education: Building Indicators of Success
4. Governance and Women
5. Economic Participation and Women
6. A Case Study: The National Solidarity Program
7. Recommendations

Topics: Development, Economies, Conflict, Education, Gender, Governance, Health, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Human Security Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, United States of America

Year: 2008

Understanding Gender and Access to Healthcare for Resettled Women in Post-War Northern Sri Lanka Through Intersectionality


Radhakrishnan, Bharathi. 2019. "Understanding Gender and Access to Healthcare for Resettled Women in Post-War Northern Sri Lanka Through Intersectionality." PhD diss., University of Massachusetts Boston.

Author: Bharathi Radhakrishnan


"Ensuring human security post-war is essential for effective reconstruction efforts and attaining a sustainable peace. This involves establishing people’s access to basic needs, including healthcare, and addressing their health security. Sri Lanka is hailed for its impressive health indicators and public health services. However, its national indicators do not accurately reflect the health context in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Additionally, research on post-war access to healthcare for resettled, formerly displaced communities, particularly women, is sparse. Given this gap, this study investigated barriers to resettled women’s efforts in post-war Jaffna, Sri Lanka to access healthcare.
This qualitative study utilized the methodology of phenomenology with the methods of interviews (35 with resettled women; 32 with key  informants) and focus groups (four with 19 resettled women) to explore the lived experiences of resettled women of reproductive age (18 to 49) in two villages in the district of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. Participants, who all gave informed consent, were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Women were recruited from two contrasting villages – a more rural, predominantly Tamil village, and a predominantly Muslim village closer to the urban center. The conceptual framework used was the socio-ecological model through a gender and intersectionality lens. Two main themes emerged that influence the women’s ability to access healthcare: (1) their perceptions of and experiences with public health staff/providers and resources, and (2) their perceptions of and behaviors within their village and home contexts. Various factors within society also affect the women’s human security and thus their ability to access healthcare. The main finding from this study indicates that the intersectionality of the women’s household income and gender (specifically gender hierarchies, norms, relations, and roles) in the home impacts their ability to access health services in post-war Jaffna, more so than ethnicity. This illustrates the importance of looking beyond solely the influence of ethnicity on people’s access to basic needs postwar. This study also demonstrates the key effect of gender dynamics on women’s access to and experience of health services in post-war Jaffna, including implications for Sri Lanka’s greater reconstruction and sustainable peace efforts" (Radhakrishnan 2019, 4-5).

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Health, Households, Livelihoods, Peace and Security, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peace Processes, Security, Human Security Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

Gender and the Security Sector: Towards a More Secure Future


Arostegui, Julie L. 2015. "Gender and the Security Sector: Towards a More Secure Future." Connections 14 (3): 7-30.

Author: Julie L. Arostegui


In recent decades, the nature of war has changed dramatically. Internal conflicts are being waged by opposing armed groups, often divided along ideological or ethnic lines that increasingly target civilians and wreak havoc on society with severe physical, psychological, social, political, and economic consequences. With the changed nature of conflict has come an increasing demand to consider its varied effects on women and girls, men and boys, and to address their specific needs before, during, and after conflict. There is also an increasing awareness of the importance of including women in peace and security processes. Women are 50 percent of the population and a critical part of society and, without them, real and sustainable peace cannot be achieved. They are not merely victims of conflict; they also play active roles as combatants, peace builders, politicians, and activists, and are often in the strongest position to bring about peace in their communities. Women around the world have emerged as voices of peace, mobilizing across communities and using their social roles and networks to mediate and mitigate violence. They have demanded attention to the complex issues of peace and peace building, and the needs of the communities involved, rather than to just cease-fires and power sharing. The international community has responded with a framework for addressing women, peace, and security, which includes United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and binding international law. Regional bodies such as the European Union, NATO, and the African Union have also developed strong frameworks around gender equality and women’s rights in order to build sustainable peace, driven by advocacy by women’s groups and the experiences of conflict. With these changes has also come a paradigm shift in the concept of security from one of state security to human security. Whereas traditionally security involved the protection of borders and state sovereignty, the modern concept of security addresses the security of individuals and communities. It broadens both the nature of security threats such as poverty, discrimination, gender-based violence, lack of democracy and marginalization, and the actors involved, including non-state actors and civil society. It means creating societies that can withstand instability and conflict. It is more than the absence of armed conflict; it is an environment where individuals can thrive.2 A security sector that is based in human security takes into account the differing needs of men, women, boys, and girls, and ensures that the full and equal participation of women addresses the needs of all of the population and helps to establish a more peaceful and secure society. Integrating a gender perspective into the security sector is essential: 1) to abide by universally accepted human rights principles; 2) because when both men and women are involved in decision-making processes, there are better outcomes; and 3) using gender perspectives and mainstreaming increases operational effectiveness" (Arostegui 2015, 7-8).

Topics: Armed Conflict, "New Wars", Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, International Organizations, Peace and Security, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Human Security, Security Sector Reform, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS

Year: 2015

Gender in Peacekeeping Operations: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of Ethiopian Female Peacekeepers in Abyei


Kewir, Kiven James, and Seble Menberu Gebremichael. 2020. "Gender in Peacekeeping Operations: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of Ethiopian Female Peacekeepers in Abyei." Africa Insight 49 (3): 60-71.

Authors: Kiven James Kewir, Seble Menburu Gebremichael


This paper analyses the role of gender in peacekeeping operations through a review of women’s experiences in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). This mission is dominated by Ethiopian peacekeepers and Ethiopia has also contributed the largest number of female peacekeepers (FPKs) to the mission since 2013. In spite of this, the proportion of female troops in UNISFA remains very low. We base our analysis on 15 in-depth field interviews, two focusgroup discussions, and direct observation done between 22 July 2015 and 2 August 2015. Traditional security studies have been criticised for being gender blind and state-centric. Using the human security conception of security and standpoint feminism as a framework for analysis, this study reveals that efforts made for the full integration of women in peace operations by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) have been thwarted by the persistence of negative stereotypes and the working conditions of FPKs in Abyei.


Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan

Year: 2020

Peacekeeping in the African Union: Gender, Abuse, and the Battle Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse


White, Sabrina. 2018. "Peacekeeping in the African Union: Gender, Women and the Battle Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse." In Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Regional and Global Security, edited by Pawel Frankowski and Artur Gruszczak, 165-189. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Author: Sabrina White


Sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel in United Nations Peace Operations undermines the very peace the intervention aims to facilitate. By default, this also undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations as a key driver of liberal interventionism. International institutions have developed a series of policies, strategies and initiatives which focus on human security and securitisation of women; namely, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda serves as the overarching strategic framework for addressing gender inequality in conflict and post-conflict situations. Regional organizations, including the African Union, have also implemented their own women and gender-related protocol with a goal of improving security and stability on the continent. This chapter broadly looks at the interests and interactions of the UN, African Union and other actors in pursuing the WPS agenda, especially where it relates to adoption and implementation of instruments designed to securitise women, promote gender equality and address sexual exploitation and abuse in Peace Operations. The chapter identifies the key barriers to progress and concludes that regardless of the various issues surrounding motivation of various actors and human-security oriented instruments, there is a need to meaningfully engage with feminist scholarship and civil society organizations in order to find sustainable solutions to the problem.

Keywords: United nations peace operations, SCR 1325, African Union, sexual exploitation and abuse

Topics: Civil Society, Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Post-Conflict, Peacekeeping, Security, Human Security, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa

Year: 2018

Religious Discourse and Gender Security in Southern Thailand


Marddent, Amporn. 2019. "Religious Discourse and Gender Security in Southern Thailand." Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies 12 (2): 225-47.

Author: Amporn Marddent


This article describes the complexity of applying human security through the notion of gender equality in southern Thailand where violent conflict has been prevalent for nearly half a century in a Malay-Muslim dominated society. It explores how the concepts of gender and security have been interpreted in Malay-Muslim leaders’ outlooks. To define security more broadly, the article surveys the various notions of peacebuilding dealing with comprehensive human security and any security threat, thus not limited to state of war or physical violence only. In the prolonged armed violence and conflict, like that faced in Thailand’s Deep South, women’s security and their role in peacebuilding emerge as pertinent concerns. The discontinuities within the narratives of women and security highlight a divergence connected to personal-political imaginations of conflict whereby subtle variations in violent conflict can be seen as the products of different policy prescriptions, local cultural norms, and the project outcomes of women groups supported by governmental organizations and national and international donors. Thus, in order to reflect upon how contemporary security notions are framed, gendered security perceptions ought to be considered as they signify the exercise of peacebuilding programs in the local context. Persistent advocacy of gender equality is about cultural change, which eventually becomes a modality for non-violent society.

Keywords: Cultural Change, Deep South of Thailand, gender security, Malay-Muslim Women, peacebuilding

Topics: Conflict, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Religion, Security, Human Security, Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Thailand

Year: 2019

Education and the Humanitarian Space: is there a Dissonance between Military Education and Military Practice?


Connors, Niall. 2019. "Education and the Humanitarian Space: Is There a Dissonance between Military Education and Military Practice?" Irish Studies in International Affairs 30: 171-93.

Author: Niall Connors


Crossing the domains of foreign policy, defence policy and gender theory, this paper focuses on education and the humanitarian space, specifically, an analysis of whether there is a dissonance between military education and military practice in an Irish context. The paper argues that Irish Defence Forces' activity as peacekeepers can be framed within the human security paradigm, aligned with a national perception of self as good global citizens, and can reasonably be characterised as humanitarian. In this context, the paper argues that the human security paradigm offers a cosmopolitan, agency-oriented, feminist perspective on the humanitarian space and should prompt a re-examination of the gendered nature of the concepts of peace, peacekeeping and ‘citizenship in practice’. The paper concludes positing that a theory-practice gap exists between military education and military practice in an Irish context, and suggests a re-orientation of military education programmes to include a more feminist, cosmopolitan perspective.

Keywords: human security, peacekeeping forces, masculinity, feminism, environmental security, defense policy, military operations, men, military alliances

Topics: Citizenship, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping, Security, Human Security Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2019

Livelihoods, Security and Needs: Gender Relations and Land Reform in South Africa


Jacobs, Susie. 2004. "Livelihoods, Security and Needs: Gender Relations and Land Reform in South Africa." Journal of International Women's Studies, 6 (1): 1-19.

Author: Susie Jacobs


This article focuses on the land reform programme in South Africa as well as on broader questions of rural women’s needs. It draws on interviews with 47 key informants, drawn particularly from the NGO sector, carried out in 2002 and 2003. It examines the importance of ‘land’ compared with wider issues such as personal and bodily security. Despite some encouraging state initiatives, most informants felt that poorer rural women remained marginalized within the land reform programme and more generally. Needs for independent income, health, and personal security were emphasised, with secure access to land seen as potentially beneficial although not as strong a priority. However, this should not be ‘read’ as an argument for ignoring the benefits of land rights for women: a rural women’s movement is needed to carry this forward demands both for economic rights and those linked to bodily integrity. 

Keywords: land reform, South Africa, women's needs/interests

Topics: Health, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa

Year: 2004

Building Resilient Societies: The Relevance of UNSCR 1325 in Egypt's Political Transition


Nasser, Salma. 2018.  "Building Resilient Societies: The Relevance of UNSCR 1325 in Egypt's Political Transition." Journal of International Women's Studies 19 (6): 35-52.

Author: Salma Nasser


United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820 and the more recent 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2242 reflect a rights-based approach to human security with a focus on the prevention of violence against women and girls and fostering their active and meaningful participation in public life in conflict and post conflict contexts. This is a particularly important framework in the African context where, over the past 5 years alone, conflict has plagued over 18 countries and has had devastating socio-economic impacts on women and led to the weakening of justice systems and social norms, which at the best of times secure minimum protection for women. In 2011 the North of the continent boiled over with political unrest which culminated with civil war in some countries. A notable phenomenon is that even in countries that escaped the predicament of armed conflict, women were subject to many of the same threats. As such, while UNSCR 1325 addresses the protection of women in times of armed conflict and peace building, provisions are still relevant in cases of political transition such as that of Egypt where there have been serious challenges to security, justice and accountability. The institutional framework in place for protecting women in conflict calls for their integration into the ensuing decision making process and inclusive dialogue is the only way to develop resilient and effective institutions for societies in transition. This paper will present a case study of lessons that could be learnt from UNSCR 1325 in terms of protecting women and girls from violence; ensuring the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in national policies; and increasing the participation of women in decisionmaking and political transition processes.

Keywords: UNSCR 1325, women's rights, violence against women, political transition, Egypt, peace building

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Conflict, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, International Organizations, Justice, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Security, Human Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, UNSCR 1820, UNSCR 1888, UNSCR 1889, UNSCR 1960, UNSCR 2106, UNSCR 2122, UNSCR 2242 Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East Countries: Egypt

Year: 2018


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