Kathleen M. Jennings
is a researcher at the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies. Her current research focuses on UN peacekeeping, gender, and the political economy of peacekeeping and peacebuilding (“peacekeeping economies”). She has also written extensively on the disarmament, demo...
- National implementation of the UN Security Council’s women, peace and security resolutions
Aisling Swaine , 14 March 2013
- Women, peace and security in post-conflict and peacebuilding contexts
Jacqui True , 14 March 2013
- Sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings
Inger Skjelsbaek , 14 March 2013
- Moving beyond the numbers: integrating women into peacekeeping operations
Olivera Simić , 13 March 2013
- Women and peace processes, negotiations, and agreements: operational opportunities and challenges
Christine Bell , 13 March 2013
- UNSCR 1325: the challenges of framing women’s rights as a security matter
Natalie Florea Hudson , 12 March 2013
- Women, peace and security: new conceptual challenges and opportunities
Sophie Richter-Devroe , Nicola Pratt , 12 March 2013
Women’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations: agents of change or stranded symbols?
Kathleen M. Jennings, 1 September 2011
This report reviews the existing evidence relating to the impact of uniformed women peacekeepers – i.e. military or police – in UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs). First, it lists the arguments most commonly used to advocate for increasing women’s participation in PKOs. The central focus of these arguments is that increasing the number of women in a PKO will improve the operational effectiveness of the mission. Thus, the dominant form of argumentation is instrumentalist: deploying more women peacekeepers is seen as necessary to achieve a more successful mission, and not as an end in itself. There then follows a closer examination of these arguments, focusing on (i) the available evidence for these claims, and (ii) the assumptions underlying them. The report contends that many of the claims justifying women’s increased participation in PKOs are at present inflated – unsurprisingly so, given the still extremely small presence of uniformed women personnel in these missions – and are based on “affirmative gender essentialisms”. Finally, there is a brief discussion of whether the current attempts to increase women’s participation in PKOs amount to “selling” gender or selling it out. The report concludes that more systematic research is needed to examine the ways in which women peacekeepers contribute to the operational effectiveness of peacekeeping missions, and how these contributions differ (or not) from the performance of male peacekeepers. It recommends financial and logistical support for mentoring programmes, both within troop-contributing countries that send all-women or mixed units into the field (so that returning women peacekeepers’ experiences are properly utilised), and between troop-contributing countries, with South–South cooperation and mentoring a particular priority.