From Rhetoric to Reality: A Pragmatic Analysis of the Integration of Women into UN Peacekeeping Operations

In: Journal of International Peacekeeping
Author: Julia Bleckner
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This paper aims to provide a critical analysis of the integration of women into United Nations (UN) peacekeeping – particularly in the form of all-female units – as a means of deterring sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in conflict environments. Results from this study indicate that compared to both male peacekeepers and female peacekeepers from co-ed units, women from all-female units have a greater awareness of gender issues and SEA in a UN mission, sense of responsibility to address such issues, and experience doing so during deployment. The distinct gap in these measures between women from all-female units and co-ed units challenges the widespread assumption that women will inherently address SEA in a UN mission. Analyzing the variables that may contribute to the success of the all-female unit, the article concludes that these same factors may be applied to a wider distribution of women throughout peacekeeping operations. Recommendations presented in the article must be implemented as a component of a broad, long-term gender mainstreaming strategy to address the interrelated nature of gender inequality and sexual violence in conflict. Results of the study are analyzed with a focus on the role of UN peacekeeping in mitigating SEA in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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