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The month in women, peace and security: February 2019

Posted By , , and on March 6, 2019 @ 13:07

Returning ‘jihadi brides’

The question of returning ‘jihadi brides’ (or mujahidis) has been a controversial topic this month. In particular, the case of Shamima Begum sparked a debate about whether women who have joined Islamic State represent the same threat to national security as male jihadis. The number of women who travelled to the Middle East to join IS is substantial. Public Safety Canada estimates that 20% of Canadian extremist travellers were women. For Australia, the case of Turkish–Australian  Zehra Duman has highlighted the complexity of the policy challenge of dealing with returning IS members.

News reports referring to mujahidis as ‘jihadi brides’ can lead to an ‘infantilisation of militancy’, where women are seen only as passive agents in the conflict. Research released by the Combating Terrorism Center found that women involved in terrorism were less likely to be arrested and convicted than men. Some commentators have argued that Duman and American mujihadi Hoda Muthana played a critical role in supporting the IS propaganda machine. Women in IS took on active roles as language instructors and intelligence agents. Most importantly, they normalised and enforced IS’s values and ideology within the group.

For more detailed analysis on some of these issues, see this report from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and this UN research on the ‘Gender dimensions of the response to returning foreign terrorist fighters’.

Different perspectives on the second Trump–Kim summit

Gloria Steinem and Christine Ahn, founders of Women Cross DMZ, offer an interesting perspective on the most recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam. They argue that Washington’s focus on denuclearisation is ‘backward’ and that Congress should introduce a resolution to formally end America’s involvement in the demilitarised zone and look to seal a formal peace agreement to end the Korean War.

WPS resolution passes in Sierra Leone

On 14 February, legislators in Sierra Leone unanimously adopted the UN Security Council resolution on the women, peace and security agenda. The resolution was approved to help legislators identify key priority areas to advance the WPS agenda and demonstrate the country’s commitment to the agenda to development partners. Legislators said the passing of the resolution will be a springboard to push to amend Sierra Leone’s constitution and other acts of parliament that discriminate against women.

UN meeting on conflict-related sexual violence

Germany, in conjunction with a number of other states, held an Arria-formula meeting at the UN on accountability for conflict-related sexual violence to highlight the prevalence of gender-related violence and the ‘persisting culture of impunity’. The Global Justice Center, the EU and the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, among many others, made statements at the meeting. Germany will hold the security council presidency in April, which will coincide with the annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence.

Gender quota floated for Egypt’s parliament

The controversial bill to extend the power of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has garnered a lot of attention, though it also includes some more promising amendments like the introduction of a gender quota of 25% female representation in the country’s house of representatives. While many female parliamentarians have agreed to the proposal in principle, some believe the quota is still not large enough to adequately represent women in parliament.

Affirmative action is not new in Egypt, where quotas have been set and removed several times. This piece provides a useful overview of the issues surrounding quotas in Egypt, including tokenism, barriers around campaign financing, intimidation and harassment, and the use of some women as proxies for male family members.

Shifting gender norms

Women are taking on new roles in Somalia. The United Nations Mine Action Service is training women as explosive disposal specialists in places where the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and landmines remains high. Training women in technical operations like mine removal will increase the diversity of the workforce and expertise in operations, allowing for a more multi-dimensional response to the threat of explosive hazards.

More broadly, the issue of integrating gendered perspectives into military operations and how best to implement the WPS agenda is attracting interest. Writing in The Strategist, Susan Hutchinson and Nathan Bradney offer suggestions for how Australia can better integrate gender into operations and planning, particularly in light of Australia’s upcoming second national WPS action plan.

In Bangladesh, the displacement of Rohingya refugee women has led to their taking up new roles. Women are becoming leaders in their communities, many of them working and earning an income for the first time in their lives. Women-only projects and committees have been set up to support Rohingya in Myanmar and teach them new skills. But there are concerns that domestic violence could increase because of these efforts, as some men believe it’s not a woman’s responsibility to work and provide for the family.

National Geographic’s Alice Su writes that competing narratives are shaping the role of women in Pakistan. Feminist activists have encouraged Pakistani women to vote and defend their rights. Yet for decades, female conservative religious scholars have successfully shaped women’s attitudes towards religious institutions and the state, arguing that feminist values will undermine Pakistani society. As Rubina Saigo explains, the complexity of gender norms in Pakistan is reflected in the ideological and intellectual struggle several generations of feminists have engaged in to shape the relationship between women and Islam.

Women in Defence and Security Network speed mentoring

ASPI’s Women in Defence and Security Network and the Australian National University Gender Institute are holding a speed mentoring event to enhance the professional skills and abilities of women who are passionate about working in defence and security. Click here for more information and to register.

The Strategist's 2019 WPS series

The Strategist will be running its annual series on women, peace and security to coincide with International Women’s Day. The series will run over the next several weeks. This year’s theme is looking towards the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 next year by celebrating achievements and contemplating challenges.

Article printed from The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-month-in-women-peace-and-security-february-2019/

[1] debate: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/behind-mujahid-mujahidi

[2] estimates: https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/2016-pblc-rpr-trrrst-thrt/index-en.aspx

[3] case: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/exclusive-mother-of-australian-is-bride-begs-government-please-bring-my-daughter-home

[4] infantilisation of militancy: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/26/jihadi-bride-shamima-begum-female-militants

[5] released: https://ctc.usma.edu/treatment-terrorists-gender-affect-justice/

[6] Hoda Muthana: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/3/hoda-muthanas-social-media-messages-on-memri-recor/

[7] report: https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Perspectives%20on%20the%20Future%20of%20Women%2C%20Gender%20and%20Violent%20Extremism.pdf

[8] UN research: https://www.un.org/sc/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Feb_2019_CTED_Trends_Report.pdf

[9] Women Cross DMZ, : https://www.womencrossdmz.org/

[10] They argue : https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/women-marched-for-korean-reconciliation-washington-is-in-our-way/2019/02/24/6830d330-3534-11e9-af5b-b51b7ff322e9_story.html?utm_term=.581691184488

[11] unanimously adopted: http://sierraexpressmedia.com/?p=87007

[12] identify : https://www.politicalanalysis.co.za/sierra-leone-adopts-un-resolution-on-womens-rights/

[13] highlight the prevalence of gender-related violence: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2019/02/arria-formula-meeting-accountability-for-conflict-related-sexual-violence.php

[14] Global Justice Center: http://globaljusticecenter.net/blog/28-publications/videos/1029-accountability-for-conflict-related-sexual-violence-as-a-central-pillar-for-prevention-arria-formula-meeting-of-the-un-security-council

[15] EU: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/un-new-york/57853/eu-statement-%E2%80%93-united-nations-security-council-arria-formula-meeting-accountability-conflict_en

[16] UN assistant secretary-general for human rights: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24157&LangID=E

[17] introduction of a gender quota: http://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/64917/What-new-bill-gives-Egyptian-women

[18] This piece: https://timep.org/commentary/analysis/women-and-quotas-in-egypts-parliament/

[19] new roles in Somalia: https://www.unmas.org/en/somalia-women-explosive-hazard-mitigation

[20] better integrate gender into operations: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-imperative-of-integrating-a-gendered-perspective-into-military-operations/

[21] taking up new roles: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/06/asia-pacific/rohingya-refugee-women-take-new-roles-workers-learners-amid-forced-societal-change/#.XFuFOqozaUk

[22] writes: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/02/the-rising-voices-of-women-in-pakistan/

[23] explains: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/pakistan/12453.pdf

[24] here: https://www.aspi.org.au/event/wdsn-speed-mentoring-canberra