NUPI Report

Female Bodies and Masculine Norms: Challenging Gender Discourses and the Implementation of Resolution 1325 in Peace Operations in Africa

Published: 14 Feb 2014

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000) was hailed as a pioneering step in acknowledging the varied roles of women in conflict and promoting their participation in peace processes and in peacebuilding. This report takes a critical look at the inclusion and exclusion of Res. 1325 in peace operations in Africa. It focuses on the meaning and importance of gender perspectives in these operations rather than “women’s perspectives.” Peace operations in Africa are clearly male-dominated, with on average 3% women in uniform (police and military), and about 17% women among the civilian staff. However, simply adding more women to peace operations is not sufficient in itself. Such an approach is based on essentialist assumptions of women and men and their assumed “innate potentials.” The report moves on to discuss some more qualitative aspects of gender perspectives in these operations: gender mainstreaming and gender units. The author examines, inter alia, the effects of equating “gender” with “women,” and the challenges involved in creating separate units to implement gender perspectives. Further, the report identifies and discusses the gender perspective at the core of many of these operations: one of militarized masculinity and state restoration. Recognizing the existence of these masculine discourses within such institutions (army and other state-building aspects), combined with the dilemmas of insecurity in the operative context, is central to analyzing and understanding the bottlenecks to gender mainstreaming and gender-sensitive approaches. Gender mainstreaming and implementation of Res. 1325 will remain at the rhetorical level unless major changes are made to the masculine, militarized architecture of peace operations.