Security or Tokenism: Evaluating Role of Women as Peacekeepers Within the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping

Authored by: Kristen Cordell

Categories: Peace Support Operations
Sub-Categories: Peacekeeping
Country: Liberia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2011
Citation: Cordell, Kristen. Security or Tokenism: Evaluating Role of Women as Peacekeepers within the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. Oslo: Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2011.

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There is growing and significant evidence on the normative or structural impact of UN Women Peacekeepers on their community- their presence bringing a sort of calming effect, or inspiring in young women to take up ranks in their own remerging security sector. However, what is much less common is substantive or qualitative evidence on the actual impact that including women in multinational forces has on the environment’s hard security sector- that is- are people actually safer because the peacekeeping force is more engendered- or perhaps less? Using a case study of Women Peacekeepers (including Police, Military and Civilian contingents) within the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Liberia (UNMIL), this paper outlines the empirical impact of including women on national physical security and its change over time. It examines the best practices needed not only for recruiting women as peacekeepers but for making the most of their impact once they are in the mission. Based on the evidence it advocates for moving beyond the tokenism of broad inclusion and towards encouraging a substantive impact on the conflict environment through key institutional shifts. It argues that through these shifts the impact on overall physical security will broaden and equalize any negative- normative impacts. By advancing this argument for practical (yet challenging) inclusion- it advocates for greater recruitment of women into the ranks of Peacekeeping missions as a means of complete fulfillment of the terms of Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820 as well as greater national stabilization and security.