Beyond Munitions: A Gender Analysis for Ukrainian Security Assistance

Authored by: Cori Fleser

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Human Development, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Ukraine
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2022
Citation: Fleser, Cori. "Beyond Munitions: A Gender Analysis for Ukrainian Security Assistance." Atlantic Council. August 15, 2022.

Access the Resource:

Executive Summary

Allies are witnessing the linkage between gender and human security in real time through the Russian war in Ukraine. As the war enters its six month, nearly each week brings new reports of war crimes, genocide, and sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces against Ukrainians. Since the February invasion, the Kremlin has intentionally targeted Ukrainian civilians in bread lines, apartment buildings, schools, churches, and hospitals, while employing disinformation campaigns to obfuscate the reality of Putin’s “special military operation” from the Russian public. By the end of May, Ukraine had identified more than six hundred Russian war crime suspects. While Ukraine is not a member of the Alliance, the outcome of the war in Ukraine—and human security of its citizens—is of vital importance to NATO, European security, and the rules-based international order emphasized throughout this Strategic Concept.

Some advocates have encouraged NATO to be more proactive in addressing gender and human security issues in Ukraine. NATO has policies and guidelines on the protection of civilians; women, peace, and security; children and armed conflict; and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and action plans or handbooks to support their implementation. These frameworks, however, only apply to NATO-led operations and no such operations currently exist in Ukraine. In a war where NATO is not directly involved, but can readily see the impact on Ukrainian civilians, what does implementing policies on women, peace, and security and human security look like? How should NATO allies understand and account for the human security challenges in their bilateral assistance to Ukraine? Beyond the NATO policy documents and the global United Nations Security Council mandates, the gendered nature of the conflict in Ukraine is a core component of examining the war, its impact on civilians, and planning-informed military action. Many allies have the information and capabilities to address such human-centered issues—they just need to incorporate them in their bilateral military assistance. This is more possible than it seems.