Sylabus Topic

Feminism, Gender, and Women’s Peace Activism


El-Bushra, Judy. 2007. “Feminism, Gender, and Women’s Peace Activism.” Development and Change 38 (1): 131–47. 

Author: Judy El-Bushra


United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, peace and security’, passed in 2000, reflects a recent growth in women’s peace activism. Women’s resistance to violence is widely believed to be a mobilizing factor in both local and international peace movements. This provokes questions around essentialism and violence of concern to feminists: are men inherently territorial and aggressive, and women naturally nurturing and peaceable? Or is the behaviour of both conditioned by particular local configurations of social relations of power? This contribution reviews these questions in the light of the experiences of women’s peace organizations. It concludes that essentializing women’s roles as wives, mothers and nurses discourages their inclusion as active decision makers in political arenas, as well as overshadowing the needs of other disadvantaged groups. Rather than seeing war as the violation of women by men, we should recognize that men and women are each differently violated by war.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gendered Power Relations, Peace and Security, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, Violence

Year: 2007

"Too Sweet and Innocent for War"? Dutch Peacekeepers and the Use of Violence


Sion, Liora. 2006. "'Too Sweet and Innocent for War'? Dutch Peacekeepers and the Use of Violence." Armed Forces & Society 32 (3): 454-74. 

Author: Liora Sion


Based on anthropological fieldwork, this article studies the experience of two Dutch peacekeeping units: the “Grizzly” artillery battery that was deployed to Kosovo in 1999 (KFOR2) and the “Bulldog” infantry company that was deployed to Bosnia in 2000 (SFOR8). By examining the units’ experience from training through deployment, this article  argues that the Dutch army is a threatened organization that suffers from a relatively low status in society. The army gains support mainly by performing peace missions, which soldiers perceive as “feminine” and therefore inappropriate. This article examines how Dutch soldiers train for peacekeeping missions and demonstrates that this training takes the shape of infantry combat exercises, a characteristic that negatively influences the soldiers’ level of satisfaction during deployments.

Topics: Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Peacekeeping, Violence Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Netherlands

Year: 2006

Protecting Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur


O'Neill, William G., and Violette Cassis. 2005. Protecting Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.

Authors: William G. O'Neill, Violette Cassis


Although armed conflict in Darfur continues to leave millions of people homeless, vulnerable to violence, and susceptible to potentially life-threatening diseases, African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops, contrary to popular belief, have made a difference in the region. Their presence has deterred the rape of women, reduced the recruitment of children into armed forces, protected humanitarian corridors and aid convoys, reduced the looting of animals belonging to Arab nomads, and helped displaced persons who returned to their homes. However, the report also finds many shortcomings and offers detailed recommendations to deal with the deteriorating situation in Darfur, including an increase in AU troop strength to at least 20,000.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Security, Human Security, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Sudan

Year: 2005

Gendered Culture in Peacekeeping Operations


Carreiras, Helena. 2010. "Gendered Culture in Peacekeeping Operations." International Peacekeeping 17 (4): 471-485.

Author: Helena Carreiras


This article examines the way that gender values and norms underlie the definition and development of peacekeeping missions, and how, in turn, these might contribute to changing prevailing gender regimes within military forces. The article starts with a revision of the gendered nature of the military, brings in the topic of changing professional identities in modern armed forces, and proceeds with an examination of key issues and contradictions in contemporary discourses on gender and peacekeeping. Based on empirical evidence from a variety of research projects conducted since the early 1990s, and with a special focus on the role and integration of women soldiers in peacekeeping, it questions the extent to which peacekeeping missions, and specifically what has been labelled a new gender regime in peacekeeping, have the potential to challenge previously dominant conceptions and practices of gender roles in military culture. The article stresses the idea that only a context-sensitive analysis will allow us to adequately account for and understand the gender dimension of peacekeeping culture.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping

Year: 2010

Women with a Blue Helmet: The Integration of Women and Gender Issues in UN Peacekeeping Missions


Bertolazzi, Francesco. 2010. “Women with a Blue Helmet: The Integration of Women and Gender Issues in UN Peacekeeping Missions.” UN-INSTRAW Working Paper Series, UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, Washington, DC.

Author: Francesco Bertolazzi


As the mandates of peacekeeping missions have become more and more complex, there has been an increasing recognition that a gendered approach to peacekeeping is essential to adequately respond to the needs of women, men, boys and girls who have been affected differently by armed conflict. The integration of gender into peacekeeping missions has taken two approaches: mainstreaming gender into the mandates, policies and practices of peacekeeping missions and increasing the number of women working in peacekeeping operations. As of 2008, only 2 per cent of military personnel in UN peacekeeping were female. This paper aims to enhance understanding of the challenges that stand in the way of realizing the goals of achieving a gender balance in peacekeeping operations, looking at recruitment of women, the impact of women peacekeepers, and training and capacity-building activities.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Gender Mainstreaming, International Organizations, Peacekeeping

Year: 2010

Participation of Women in UN Peacekeeping Operations


Odanović, Gorana. 2010. “Participation of Women in UN Peacekeeping Operations.” Western Balkans Security Observer 5 (16): 70–79.

Author: Gorana Odanović


Participation of women in the UN peacekeeping operations, as one of necessary preconditions for their effective and successful implementation, has become more widely accepted only during the past ten years. Although women’s contribution in the peacekeeping operations is multifaceted (the level of security among the local women increases, the trust of the local community in the mission grows, the contact with the female population is easier to establish, etc.), the percentage of women who participate in these operations is at the low level, especially when it comes to police and military troops. The greatest obstacles to higher involvement of women in peacekeeping operations are in the fact that there are very few women in police and military units in the states which participate in the UN peacekeeping operations, but also in gender discrimination based on prejudice and stereotypes that women do not have required psychological and physical abilities to perform successfully in the peacekeeping operations. These are, at the same time, the reasons why so few women are involved in the UN peacekeeping operations in which the Serbian police and military units are participating.

Topics: Gender, Women, International Organizations, Peacekeeping Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Serbia

Year: 2010

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeepers: A Threat to Impartiality


Grady, Kate. 2010. “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeepers: A Threat to Impartiality.” International Peacekeeping 17 (2): 215–28.

Author: Kate Grady


This article reconceptualizes the idea of the impartiality of UN peacekeeping in light of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel. It considers the role that sexual exploitation and abuse play both during and after conflict. The paper argues that sexual exploitation and abuse are political acts that bring about financial and propagandist benefits for the warring parties. It then tracks the history of neutrality in UN peacekeeping – originally defined as objective inaction against the warring parties – and its development into impartiality – now identified as unbiased interference, but with greater reference to core universal values such as fairness and justice. Peacekeepers’ involvement in sexual exploitation and abuse is of political advantage to the parties and therefore breaches the principle of impartiality.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, International Organizations, Justice, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Year: 2010

Gender Empowerment and United Nations Peacebuilding


Gizelis, Theodora-Ismene. 2009. “Gender Empowerment and United Nations Peacebuilding.” Journal of Peace Research 46 (4): 505–23.

Author: Theodora-Ismene Gizelis


Previous studies have suggested that societies where women have higher social and economic status and greater political representation are less likely to become involved in conflict. In this article, the author argues that the prospects for successful post-conflict peacebuilding under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) are generally better in societies where women have greater levels of empowerment. Women’s status in a society reflects the existence of multiple social networks and domestic capacity not captured by purely economic measures of development such as GDP per capita. In societies where women have relatively higher status, women have more opportunities to express a voice in the peacemaking process and to elicit broader domestic participation in externally led peacekeeping operations. This higher level of participation in turn implies that UN Peacekeeping operations can tap into great social capital and have better prospects for success. An empirical analysis of post-conflict cases with a high risk of conflict recurrence shows that UN peacekeeping operations have been significantly more effective in societies in which women have relatively higher status. By contrast, UN peacekeeping operations in countries where women have comparatively lower social status are much less likely to succeed.

Keywords: peacekeeping operations, gender empowerment, womens empowerment, development, economic development

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict

Year: 2009

Gender and Peacekeeping: The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor


Whittington, Sherrill. 2003. “Gender and Peacekeeping: The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28 (4): 1283–8. doi:10.1086/368320.

Author: Sherrill Whittington

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2003

Peacekeeping and the Gender Regime


Sion, Liora. 2008. “Peacekeeping and the Gender Regime.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37 (5): 561–585.

Author: Liora Sion


This article addresses the issue of women participation in peacekeeping missions by focusing on two North Atlantic Treaty Organization Dutch peacekeeping units in Bosnia (SFOR8) and Kosovo (KFOR2). I argue that soldiers are ambivalent toward what is perceived the “feminine” aspects of peace missions. Although peacekeeping is a new military model, it reproduces the same traditional combat-oriented mind-set of gender roles. Therefore Dutch female soldiers are limited in their ability to perform and contribute to peace missions. Both peacekeeping missions and female soldiers are confusing for the soldiers, especially for the more hypermasculine Bulldog infantry soldiers. Both represent a blurred new reality in which the comfort of the all-male unit and black-and-white combat situations are replaced by women in what were traditionally men's roles and the fuzzy environment of peacekeeping. At the same time, both are also necessary: peacekeeping, although not desirable, has become the main function for Dutch soldiers, and women are still a small minority, although they gain importance in the army. Present government policy prescribes a gender mainstreaming approach to recruiting, partly due to a lack of qualified male personnel, especially after the end of the draft in 1996.

Keywords: women, peacekeeping, Dutch, exclusion, NATO

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo

Year: 2008


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