Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Begging the Question: What Would a Men, Peace and Security Agenda Look Like?

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Begging the Question: What Would a Men, Peace and Security Agenda Look Like?

Article excerpt


The starting point for much of the scholarship examining gender in International Relations and security studies can be neatly summarized in a question that Cynthia Enloe asked in 1989, namely "Where are the women?"* 1 The following decade was marked by several milestones in the inclusion of women in the international security agenda such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action produced at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995 and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2000. After fifteen years and six further resolutions, academics, practitioners, and policymakers alike have begun to ask a similar question, but this time of the gender equality and women's empowerment agenda, namely "Where are the men?" In this article, I first examine the historical background of work conducted on men and masculinities in peace and security at the international level. Subsequently, I outline some of the reasons why a "Men, Peace and Security" agenda is yet to clearly develop in international policy circles. Finally, I offer some suggestions on what a Men, Peace and Security agenda would look like by mirroring the four pillars of the Women, Peace and Security framework, namely protection, prevention, participation, and relief and recovery.

We Can't See the Forest for the Trees: Men as the Missing Gender

The great irony at the heart of the women, peace and security agenda is that what began as an attempt to consider gender relations as a cross-cutting theme in all matters of peace and security resulted in the creation of a new, high profile pigeonhole known as "women's issues." While issues such as sexual and domestic violence against women did reach the agenda as a serious security concern, men as perpetrators, secondary witnesses, and victims are notably absent from the discourse.2 While the term "women's is- sue" may at first appear as a way to give women who have been traditionally underrepresented a voice, it in fact places the burden of resolving these issues on oppressed women themselves. In this way, discussions on gender equality are kept off the mainstream peace and security agenda and the status quo can be maintained.

This situation is problematic for multiple reasons. First of all, there is little focus on bringing to justice those who actually peipetrate crimes and discriminate against women - many, but not all, of whom are men. Second, prevention becomes complicated as, if the people who pose a threat to women's security are not defined, the responsibility falls on women to protect themselves, with victims potentially being blamed for "failures" in this regard. Third, the labeling of crimes such as rape as a "women's issue" conceals the many male victims, as well as men and boys affected by the rape of relatives and others who are close to them. The psychological trauma of being forced to witness the rape of a family member , as well as the subsequent caregiving responsibilities this entails, has only recently been recognized internationally.* * 3 Finally, the role that men need to play in preventing and responding to these "women's issues" is not defined. This means that those men who are currently engaged in activities aimed at overcoming gender inequality go unnoticed, those men who have the will but not the expertise go unsupported, and those men who have a legal responsibility to prevent and pursue cases of gender-based violence go unaccountable.

Men and Masculinities in NATO and Partnership for Peace Countries: A Brief History

Although dedicated men's movements in the West began to proliferate towards the end of the late 1960s, men's engagement in gender equality can be traced back at least as far as the nineteenth century.4 Notable examples include British political philosopher and politician John Stuart Mill, who published an essay entitled The Subjection of Women in 1869, which he co-wrote with his wife, Harriot Taylor Mill, and also called for women's suffrage during his term as a Member of Parliament in 1867. …

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