The roles of women in UN peacekeeping: moving on from gendered norms to problematizing masculinity.

Donna Bridges, Anu Mundkur, Ben Wadham

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


In recognition of the pivotal role played by women in peacebuilding and the impact of gender on conflicts the United Nations Security Council adopted the landmark Resolution 1325 (2000). UNSCR 1325 specially calls for increasing the number and expanding the role of women in all aspects of peacebuilding and post conflict negotiations – including that of women military personnel. This mandate, still in operation, came in the face of mounting evidence that female military personnel assist in positively facilitating the peace process by engendering trust in people in host nations, allying their fears, improving the reputation of peacekeepers and sending a clear message about gender equity. Sixteen years on and the numbers of women military personnel in peacekeeping troops remains dismal. In September 2015 out of 1808 military experts on mission 84 were female and out of 90,066 peacekeeping troops deployed 2852 were female. Overall, all member states have managed to do is increase women’s participation in peacekeeping missions by a meagre 3%. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) like many other Western nations has not been able to live up to the aspirations of Resolution 1325 and the call for a gender balanced peacekeeping force and this is despite increased efforts to do so. In this paper we revisit an earlier article (Bridges & Horsfall, 2009) that concurred with other evidence in the field that the presence of female peacekeepers is indeed beneficial to operational effectiveness and also claimed that there was evidence to suggest that a gender balanced force in peacekeeping could moderate violent crime perpetrated by UN peacekeepers against women in host nations. We have explored developments in the field that have occurred since the publication of this paper in terms of the gender essentialisms and binaries that exist within the earlier arguments and view them in light of gendered discourses in the military context, the United Nations and within Resolution 1325. By interrogating notable papers that have since commented on our earlier arguments and claims we assess and analyse the argument that a gender balanced force, one that contains higher numbers of women, that is, can assuage military masculinities that reject women and feminine values. In this paper, at this time, we seek to explore ideas and theories about military masculinities in the peacekeeping context by considering those that have emerged from the few papers we analyse here and by putting our own emerging ideas into the mix.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2016
EventGender, Work and Organisation Conference : 9th Biennial International Interdisciplinary conference - Keele University, Keele, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jun 201601 Jul 2016
Conference number: 9th (conference program)


ConferenceGender, Work and Organisation Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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