Abstracts for Sessions 1-3


Jessica Bombasaro-Brady, Independent researcher on gender and security

Policing at Peace? Police Reform, Sexual Violence, and Restoring Civic Trust in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia was marked by brutal inter-ethnic violence and rape, often committed by police officers against civilians. The United Nations invested significant personnel and financial resources in transitional justice measures, including reforming the Bosnian police from 1996-2002 and supporting war crimes prosecutions, both at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and in domestic courts.

Drawing on original field-work conducted during 2013-2015, this article explores the nexus of post-war police reform, war-time sexual assaults committed by police officers, and contemporary public trust in the police, focusing on the effect of those assaults on peace-building. Ultimately, it will address the central question: considering police involvement in war-time sexual violence during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, to what extent were post-war transitional justice measures, including police reform and war crimes prosecutions, effective in instilling civic trust in police institutions?


Cynthia Enloe, Research Professor, Clark University:

Lessons from Bogota and Sarajevo

Recent thinking and  organizingof feminist peace activists in Colombia and Bosnia suggest the challenges of making post-war society less patriarchal than pre-war and wartime societies.


Rebekka Friedman, Lecturer of International Peace and Security, Department of War Studies, King's College London:

Stigma, Invisibility and Agency: Gendered Dimensions of Transitional Justice and Peace-building in Northern Sri Lanka

This presentation addresses the complex legacies of unresolved violence, disappearances, and militarisation in Sri Lanka. As in other contexts, while women constitute the minority of the disappeared, they are the majority of family members of the disappeared. The economic, social and psychological repercussions from the loss of a male family member are devastating and complex and often less visible to the public eye. The presentation examines the gendered everyday legacies of militarisation and the intersection of patriarchal identity politics and gender in a context of extreme ethnic polarisation. At the same time, it also examines the agency and strength of female survivors in their campaigns on behalf of missing family members and contributions to community recovery. The paper looks at the challenges facing women and their contributions to peace-building in relation to formal and informal transitional justice processes.


Marsha Henry, Deputy Director, LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security:

The Problem(s) of Peacekeeping for Women, Peace and Security

This presentation considers three problems relating to peacekeeping and peacekeepers that are seldom considered in the literature on women, peace and security.  The first problem relates to the discrepancy between operational effectiveness and symbolic effectiveness arguments for increasing the number of women peacekeepers. The second problem is that there needs to be more precision in the way sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers is articulated and responded to in the media and by the UN.  Finally, female peacekeepers are not all equal---and as such we need to think about intersecting differences and the lived experiences of female peacekeepers, more generally.


Georgina Holmes, Research Fellow, University of Reading:

Gender Mainstreaming in the Rwanda Defence Force

The Government of Rwanda, led by the ruling party the RPF, is taking a holistic approach to gender and security, drawing synergies between combating all forms of gender insecurities, including sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), and post-conflict recovery and stability. In line with UN Security Resolution 1325 and its related resolutions, the government is also keen to meet the target of ensuring women constitute 30 per cent of the peacekeepers Rwanda contributes to peace support operations. A renewed emphasis at the strategic level on gender mainstreaming Rwanda’s security organs has increased pressure on the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) to recruit more female military personnel and establish a gender-sensitive programme of work. Efforts to mainstream gender in the RDF began a decade after the transitional government set out to rebuild Rwanda’s security forces, left decimated in the aftermath of genocide and civil war.

Drawing on field research conducted in 2014-15, including interviews with over 40 female military personnel, trainers, RDF senior leaders and government officials, this paper undertakes an assessment of the Rwanda Defence Forces’ gender mainstreaming activities. It is argued that while the RDF gender mainstreaming program contains transformative elements, and is significantly more progressive than those of neighbouring African militaries, the programme in its current form does not facilitate full structural and cultural transformation of the national armed forces. Rather, gender mainstreaming is being used strategically to achieve priority security policy goals and to help build the RPF’s reputation as a modernised and cohesive military.


Fatima Hossaini, independent researcher and GEST alumni (2010):

Women’s Struggle for Peace Negotiation in Afghanistan

Women’s participation in the peace process is considered to be essentially important to guarantee sustainable peace and justice in a country where women are the primary victims of decades of conflict. Women have lost their husbands, sons and most of the male members of the family which not only made them deprived of the social protection, provided by the male members, but also negatively affected their life in a patriarchal society. Sexual assault is another common crime committed against women during the conflict therefore it is important to develop a proper mechanism to ensure the protection of women and their full participation in the peace process. Afghanistan is a country where women have endured  gender-based violence in the last three decades of conflicts. During the last decade, Afghan women, with the help of the international community, succeeded to improve the standard of women’s life. Besides that Afghanistan constitutional law affirms and guaranties women’s equal rights and their participation in all political aspects including quotas in both upper and lower house of parliament. In 2010 the Afghan government established the High Peace Council that is assigned to lead the peace talk process with Taliban and the other anti-government opposition groups. The establishment of the council is in line with the UN Resolution 1325, where women’s participation in the peace process is pronounced to be a crucial part. The Afghan government has tried to ensure women’s involvement during the peace talks, while it is not any easy task to be achieved, with only 12% of the High Peace Council members being women and on one hand the majority members of High Peace Council being previous warlords, and on the other hand the Taliban, who do not agree to allow women a seat at the table.


Laura Khoury, Professor, Department of Social and Behavioural Science, Birzeit University:

Alienating the Discourse on Violence against Indigenous Women in UNSCR 1325

“We agree that history is the result of class struggle but we have our own class struggles in our own country”, argues Cabral, adding that the moment imperialism arrived and colonialism arrived, it made us leave our history and enter another history (1964: 68). Cabral’s statement stems from a realization by intellectuals in the global South that the Eurocentric bent seeps of chauvinism and regionalism, even if it originates in Marxism, a framework that Cabral sympathized with. Therefore, Cabral later argued how “the national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical personality of that people, its return to history through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjected” (1966:102). It is, therefore, the experience of masses and peoples in the course social and national conflicts that shape their consciousness. Silencing the indigenous experience and discounting the unique colonial and post-colonial conditions the people of the South have been facing, ineluctably alienates their social and national discourses, including violence against women’s discourse. As such, the Western category of gender fails to capture the unique experience of colonized women facing both national and social oppressions. In the case of Palestine, comparative colonialism classifies the particular colonial experience as “pure settlement colony”, distinguishing it from other forms of settler colonialism (mixed settlements and plantation) (Shafir 1987). Settler colonialism that Zionism employed is “inherently genocidal” (Churchill 1997),“have the purest form of racist –and sexist- impulse” (Fredrickson 1986) which led to the centrality of the negation of exile (Piterberg 2008). The Negation of Exile essentially constructs the self with the diaspora Jew as the other, not the Palestinian. As such it negates them and expels them from history preparing the grounds for a unique colonial condition that entails massacres and ethnic cleansing. How does the negation of Palestinians as the “other” in settler colonial model affect conceptualizing violence against women in Palestine -even after the advent of the Palestinian Authority?  What are the implications of undermining structural violence in understanding Palestinian women’s experiences and resolving violence against women? The argument here is that mainstreaming violence against women assumptions are difficult to overturn simply because inherent in the discourse is an imperialist, Zionist and apartheid impulse. This bias is a reflection of asymmetrical power. Thereby, the lack of recognizing the structures of global capitalism and imperialism and the very narrow concept of justice that is deeply implicated in the UNSCR 1325 resolution does not condemn colonization (war and conflict too) and has a deeper structural layers of violence which even curbs resistance to colonization. The women’s question in Palestine is not purely a social question or a question of inequality, it must be perceived with a colonial prism.


Cabral, Amilcar (1964) 'Brief Analysis of the Social Structure in Guinea' (I964), in Revolution in Guinea, translated by Richard Handside. Steve Palmer: London.

Cabral, Amilcar (1966) Address delivered to the first Tricontinental Conference of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America held in Havana in January, 1966. https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/cabral/1966/weapon-theory.htm

Churchill, Ward (1997) A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas,1492 to the Present (San Francisco: City Lights Books).

Fredrickson, G. M. (1988) ‘Colonialism and Racism’, in The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality (Hanover: Wesleyan University Press) 216–35.

Piterberg, Gabriel (2008) The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel (New York: Verso).

Shafir, Gershon (1989) Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict1882–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).


Ortrun Merkle, PhD candidate, UNU-MERIT:

Political Participation of Women – the Nexus of Patriarchy and Corruption

To ensure the best results of UNSCR 1325 as well as achieving state stability we need sufficient political participation of women, which is still lacking in many countries. This paper looks at the question of female political participation from a different angle. Drawing on 2 research papers about Sierra-Leone and Georgia, we argue that there is a strong connection between corruption and the lack of participation which still has been understudied and is not sufficiently taken into account in policy making.

Suffering from rampant corruption and struggling with women’s empowerment, Sierra Leone provides a unique opportunity to study the relationship between corruption and gender in the post-conflict setting. Using micro-level data from Sierra Leone, we find that people with more conservative views on the role of women are more likely to condone corruption, this is an interesting and important finding also for policy making. Similarly the case study of Georgia shows that male dominated party structures not only severely hinder participation of women but also encourage corrupt behavior. These findings suggest that we need more research in this area and that the synergies between policies on female participation and on anti-corruption could be bigger than expected.


Marilou McPhedran, Director, Institute for International Women's Rights, University of Winnipeg:

Why Localization Strategies are Crucial for Implementing the 1325 WPS Agenda

At the United Nations, the informal "Friends of 1325" chaired by Canada, includes State Members that are relatively advantaged countries committed to National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This presentation examines the need for increased evidence-based advocacy that combines strengths of those skilled in diplomacy, policy, research and representation to further implementation of the inclusion and effectiveness goals of the "1325 cluster" of UN Security Council Resolutions that make up the WPS Agenda. Current projects that focus on "localization" of the 1325 cluster in conflict arenas as well as the value of outreach and engagement with youth and women in diaspora communities in advantaged countries will be discussed. Professor McPhedran, a research associate of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and a member of the WILPF Peacewomen Academic Network, is a human rights lawyer who builds academic/community partnerships, with an emphasis on constitutional activism.


Marriët Schuurman, Ambassador and NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security:

Back to Basics: Why Gender Equality is not Optional but Fundamental for the Alliance

The Global Study on the implementation of UNSCR1325 shows that since 2000 much attention went to protection, but much less to the tother "Ps" of the Resolution: participation and prevention. Beyond 2015, women empowerment and gender equality has to become core to all our peace and security strategy and actions: we can only achieve lasting peace and prevent new conflict if women and men can equally contribute to building resilient societies. That is the historic lesson codified in the Resolution. It is also the foundation on which the Alliance was built, in 1949: equal rights and individual freedoms which the Alliance is meant to safeguard. That is why gender equality is fundamental, not optional. It is core business.


Katharine A. M. Wright, Research Fellow, University of Surrey:

A European Approach to Women, Peace and Security? The Case of the EU

European states have been at the forefront of the adoption of National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325. It could therefore be expected that the EU would take a leading role in championing the Women, Peace and Security agenda, yet as a regional actor, the EU has failed to do so and has lagged behind NATO. This paper seeks to assess the opportunities and challenges to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 at the European level, in particular, whether UNSCR 1325 has shaped or can shape the mainstreaming of gender in European security and defence. The paper interrogates whether the implementation of this global gender norm can have a transformative impact on European strategic culture or whether the process of diffusion fundamentally challenges UNSCR 1325, thus undermining its transformative potential. To do so, the paper identifies critical actors within the European External Action Service and EU Member States to ascertain their success in integrating a gender norm into the EU’s developing strategic culture. The paper will discuss the challenges faced by these norm entrepreneurs in supporting UNSCR 1325 into the mainstream of EU policy-making.