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Implementing the WPS agenda into Defense: concept or capability?

 

A Gender Advisor in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Colonel Amanda Fielding discusses the ways in which Women, Peace and Security (WPS) can be met with less resistance and, therefore, most effectively implemented in military operations. WPS is “not just about equity, but capability” suggesting that the proper integration of women into military operations, such as the Afghan National Defense Security Forces, can enhance operational capabilities. Interestingly, —and despite concerns from WPS-purists—Fielding suggests a twist on the agenda, advocating for replacing the term “WPS” with “gender.” Recognizing the significance of culturally and socially defined roles of women and men may actually bolster policymakers’ acknowledgment of women’s issues and roles in conflict. Read more here.

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Women, peace and security in 2017: moving forward or edging backwards?

As Australia’s first National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) draws nearer to its 2018 expiration, Lisa Sharland’s article discusses the future of the Plan by noting its weaknesses as well as the challenges it faces. Some of the weaknesses include inadequate means to measure progress, uneven funding and resource allocations and the changing nature of conflict and instability in the five years since the plan’s adoption. In terms of challenges, Sharland points out that continuing criticism from the Australian Defence Force and inattention by the United Nations “suggest that efforts to progress WPS will need to remain on the defensive over coming years.”  Read the full article here.

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Peacekeeping and the WPS agenda: ‘less talk and more action’

Despite notable efforts to promote the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325), author Leanne Smith notes a continued general lack of understanding about the value of a gender perspective in peacekeeping. Smith attributes this to the lack of senior leadership support, as well as the structural set-up of gender advisers within missions. In terms of the latter, new measures are being put in place in order to combat hindrances such as high turnover rates and an under-resourced Gender Unit at the United Nations headquarters. Read about the new plans here.

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ADF women are already ‘in combat’

In Brendan Nicholson’s article, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell of the Australian Army discusses the value of deploying male and female soldiers together into local communities in conflict zones, especially communities in which culture forbids women from talking to unrelated males. The deliberate deployment of female soldiers in these areas has helped forces to more substantially engage with the civilian population. In early 2013, Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) female combat-exclusion rules were eliminated, thus making it easier to include female soldiers in all operations. Still, Nicholson notes that given the nature of conflict even prior to 2013, anywhere can become the ‘front lines’ at any time. Read the full article here.

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Achieving gender parity is as critical in the field as it is anywhere else

Gender equality and women’s empowerment have long been recognized in the international community as key factors in building sustainable peace and security. Despite the development of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325) and subsequent resolutions meant to integrate a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations, representation and participation of women in the armed forces has not changed significantly. Senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officer Jennifer Wittwer’s article notes that a holistic approach to gender parity is critical to the maximization of “our capacity to sustain peace and security.” Read more here.

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The WPS Agenda must also be responsive to natural disasters

Elisabeth Buchan’s article discusses two key reasons why disaster relief should be treated as a Women, Peace and Security (WPS) issue. First, the disruption caused by natural disasters is equal to that of armed conflict; thus, security issues facing women within these two situations—such as threats to women’s health and an increase in sexual violence—overlap. Second, a growing movement towards a gendered approach to disaster relief has already begun to guide policy. Buchan notes the benefits of the incorporation of WPS into disaster relief as evidenced by Operation Fiji Assist. To read the full article, click here.

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Women, Peace and Security: a Century-long Battle for Peace

 

Despite resistance to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, Australia has made positive progress through the continued integration of the Agenda into military operations. As author Jenny Lee of the Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) discusses, the sharing—both domestically and internationally—of Australia’s experiences helps to conceptualize the implementation of the Agenda in various social and cultural contexts. To read more, click here.

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The Role of the WPS Agenda in Countering Violent Extremism

Laura Shepherd’s article discusses the ways in which United Nations Security Council Resolution 2242 (UNSCR2242) may introduce counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CT/CVE) initiatives into the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. UNSCR2242 highlights how these two agendas are central to one another; still, scholars and practitioners have taken issue with the integration of CT/CVE and WPS. These concerns include a precedence of inattention to the relationship between gender and radicalization, and lack of appropriate gender training in CT/CVE program delivery. Integration of the two initiatives must be done via thoughtful, informed consideration so as not to devalue the WPS agenda. Read more here.

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WPS and Talisman Sabre: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future

In this article, Assistant Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Civil-Military and Stabilisation Policy section Amy Sheridan discusses the first integration of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) into Talisman Sabre 2015, an Australia-U.S. bilateral military exercise. She notes that the exercise’s  weaknesses can help to improve Talisman Sabre 2017. Areas of improvement include: poor accountability frameworks, a gap in soldiers’ training and education, and a need for increased civilian-agency engagement. Sheridan highlights the importance of continued proactive efforts in order to effectively operationalize WPS. Read the full article here.

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Gender Equality in the South African National Defence Force

The South African government has committed to gender equality through international conventions and its own constitutional provisions, and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is bound to comply with these commitments. To assess the SANDF’s progress toward gender equality, Lieutenant Colonel NO Mkhwanazi examines the history of the apartheid-era SANDF and South African liberation movements, comparing them with the US and Namibian militaries, before inspecting the post-apartheid military and current challenges impacting its gender integration. Despite notable increases in the number of women serving in the SANDF, inequities still exist as a result of differing access to benefits, cultural attitudes toward women, women’s and men’s concerns about women in combat roles, and increased incidents of sexual harassment and abuse. The intersection of race and gender and their effects on both women’s desire to serve and on cultural attitudes towards the SANDF’s current challenges are also examined. Finally, a set of recommendations are proposed to address these issues and help the SANDF move closer to gender equality.  Read the full article here.

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