Dr. Margaret Jenkins, in “Policy Tensions Related to Gender and Peacekeeping: The Need for a Two-Level Game,” critiques the assumptions that typically underlie gender mainstreaming initiatives in peace support operations to understand why progress has been slow. Jenkins argues that there has not been enough focus on the end-goals for gender mainstreaming – analysis of what a completely gender-mainstreamed peacekeeping operation would entail. She examines the tensions between common assumptions on the one hand, and policy and practice on the other, offering specific suggestions to bridge these gaps:
- Avoid gendered assumptions about how women behave. Advocates for women’s inclusion often make assumptions about the skills and characteristics women can bring to peace and security (e.g., women are better listeners than men, are more sensitive or caring, or are more attuned to the needs of women and children). However, these assumptions have not been fully corroborated; in particular, there is little evidence that the presence of women changes the attitudes of male peacekeepers or reduces sexual exploitation and abuse. Moreover, such assumptions may undermine longer- term gender equality goals.
- There needs to be more rigorous understanding of how men and women are treated on deployment, whether they have different roles, and whether these different roles have a different effect on the mission and its objectives.
- Gender mainstreaming should consider possible policy responses to current unequal gender pressures and norms (e.g., care responsibilities at home), while simultaneously working to transform these gender parameters to create truly gender mainstreamed peace support operations.