Explaining Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Missions

The Role of Female Peacekeepers and Gender Equality in Contributing Countries

Authored by: Sabrina Karim, Kyle Beardsley

Categories: Peace Support Operations
Sub-Categories: Peacekeeping, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Region: No Region
Year: 2016
Citation: Karim, S., & Beardsley, K. (2016). Explaining sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions: The role of female peacekeepers and gender equality in contributing countries. Journal of Peace Research, 53(1), 100­115.

Access the Resource:


Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is an endemic problem in UN peacekeeping missions. It is not only a gross human rights violation, but also threatens to challenge the legitimacy of the peacekeeping mission and undermines the promotion of gender equality in host countries. We examine if the composition of peacekeeping forces along two dimensions – the proportion of women and the records of gender (in)equality in the contributing countries – helps explain variation in SEA allegations. Analysis of mission-level information from 2009 to 2013 indicates that including higher proportions of both female peacekeepers and personnel from countries with better records of gender equality is associated with lower levels of SEA allegations reported against military contingents. We conclude that substantial reductions in SEA perpetrated by peacekeepers requires cultivation of a value for gender equality among all peacekeepers – improving the representation of women may help but still stops short of addressing the root of the problem.