Are women making a difference in peacekeeping operations? Considering the voices of South African women peacekeepers

Alchin, Angela Nicole (2015-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Although there has been a shift from state security to human security, feminist scholars pointed out the missing gender dynamic of a human security approach. The inclusion of a gendered lens has allowed for peacekeeping to come under scrutiny on how it affects the human security of the host society. Due to increased allegations of sexual exploitation of locals by male peacekeepers, the UN and scholars alike have advocated the increasing recruitment of women in peacekeeping operations, claiming that they have a number of unique contributions which improve the operational effectiveness of a peacekeeping unit and the human security of vulnerable populations. Broadly, the unique contributions women make to peacekeeping is: 1. They have a calming effect on men which decreases violence by peacekeepers; 2. Women are more inclined to interact with locals; 3. They are better respondents to victims of sexual violence; and 4. Women are inspirational to local women. However, women have faced a number of challenges which inhibit them from fulfilling these unique contributions. This project contributes to this line of inquiry and, by conducting focus group discussions with women soldiers in the 9 South Africa Infantry (9 SAI) base, this study provides further understanding on the challenges women peacekeepers face in realizing their value to peacekeeping missions. The evidence presented in this article suggests that even though women can have a positive impact on the operational effectiveness of a unit, the broadly advocated unique contributions of women peacekeepers presents a false holism of women in the military. In the South African case, patriarchal beliefs define gender perceptions and create a self-perception amongst women which inhibit them from realizing their contributions to peacekeeping missions beyond patriarchal lines. Furthermore, the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) liberal feminist approach to recruiting women in the military is based on gender equality, which has come at the expense of valuing gender difference. Considering the South African case, and more broadly, the hegemonic masculine culture of military institutions allows for the creation of a soldier identity which only features masculine qualities. Therefore, both men and women do not value feminine qualities which are useful and needed in peacekeeping operations. In the end, women dilute their femininity to fit into this male domain, defeating the point of adding more women to peacekeeping operations for their feminine qualities. This study shows that, ultimately, the correlation between recruiting more women and improving the human security of vulnerable citizens is hazy. Depending on the context in which peacekeepers are deployed, women peacekeepers may exacerbate the insecurity of the locals, the unit, and themselves. To overcome these challenges, this paper advocates the creation of a new soldier identity which should be championed by the SANDF. Furthermore, gender training should be done on a regular basis. In addition, recruitment processes should especially target women and emphasize the value they may add to the military and peacekeeping operations. Finally, ongoing challenges difficult to overcome are the deeply entrenched patriarchal beliefs in the South African society, and the hegemonic masculine culture of the SANDF.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Alhoewel daar ʼn verskuiwing in fokus vanaf staatsveiligheid na menslike veiligheid plaasgevind het, lewer feministiese teorie steeds kritiek op menslike veiligheid omdat dit faal om ʼn geslagsaspek in ag te neem. Die insluiting van ʼn geslagsaspek het veroorsaak dat navorsing oor die maniere waarop ʼn vredesoperasie die menslikesekuriteit van die plaaslike bevolking beïnvloed gedoen word. As gevolg van toenemende bewerings van seksuele uitbuiting van plaaslike inwoners deur manlike vredebewaarders het beide die VN en ander geleerdes aanbeveel dat meer vroue gewerf moet word vir deelname aan vredesoperasies. Hul beweer dat vroulike vredesmagsoldate ʼn aantal unieke bydraes kan maak tot die effektiwiteit van vredesmageenhede, asook die menslike sekuriteit van kwesbare bevolkings. Die unieke bydrae wat vroue kan maak tot vredesendings sluit die volgende in: 1. Hulle het ʼn kalmerende effek op mans wat dus lei tot minder geweld deur manlike vredesmagsoldate; 2. Groter kommunikasie met die plaaslike bevolking; 3. Groter bevoegdheid om vroulike slagoffers van seksuele geweld te ondersteun; en 4. Inspirasie vir die plaaslike vroue. Alhoewel vroue hierdie unieke bydra kan maak, is daar ʼn aantal uitdagings wat hul in die gesig staar en dus verhoed om hierdie unieke bydrae te kan maak. Hierdie studie maak ʼn bydrae tot hierdie rigting van ondersoek, deur gebruik te maak van fokusgroepbesprekings met vroulike soldate van die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag om verdere begrip vir die uitdagings wat vroue vredesmagsoldate ondervind te kweek. Die studie dui aan dat alhoewel vroue ʼn bydrae kan maak tot die operasionele doeltreffendheid van vredesoperasies, kan hierdie unieke bydrae nie aan alle vroue toegeskryf word nie. Hierdie studie toon dat patriargie in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks ʼn groot uitdaging vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag (SANW) is omdat dit persepsies van geslag skep wat vroue verhinder om hul unieke bydrae tot vredesoperasies te realiseer. Verder, het die SANW se liberale feministiese benadering tot die werwing van vroue in die weermag gebaseer op geslagsgelykheid, gerealiseer ten koste van geslagsverskille wat waardeer moet word. In die geval van Suid-Afrika, asook militêre instellings in die algemeen, is daar ʼn hegemoniese manlike kultuur wat voorsiening maak vir die skepping van 'n soldaatsidentiteit wat net manlike eienskappe reflekteer. Dit is dus die rede waarom manlike en vroulike soldate nie waarde heg aan vroulike eienskappe nie, alhoewel hierdie eienskappe nuttig is in vredesoperasies. Op die ou einde is die toevoeging van vroue tot die weermag as gevolg van hul vroulike eienskappe onnuttig, aangesien hul hierdie eienskappe ‘opgee‘ om in te pas by die manlike kultuur van die SANW. Hierdie studie trek die stelling dat meer vroue in vredesoperasies tot die verbetering van menslikeveiligheid lei in twyfel. In teendeel, afhangende van die konteks waarin vredesmagte ontplooi word, kan vroulike vredesmagsoldate die menslike sekuriteit van die plaaslike bevolking, die vredeseenheid, en hulself in gedrang plaas. Om hierdie uitdagings die hoof te bied, stel hierdie studie voor dat die SANW ʼn nuwe soldaatsidentiteit wat manlike en vroulike eienskappe insluit, skep en bevorder. Geslagsopleiding moet ook op 'n gereelde basis plaasvind. Daarbenewens moet die werwingsproses veral op vroue gemik word en die waarde wat hulle toevoeg tot beide die weermag en vredesoperasies beklemtoon word. Ten slotte, voortdurende uitdagings wat moeilik is om die hoof te bied sluit in: die patriargale oortuigings in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing asook die hegemoniese manlike kultuur van die SANW.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96843
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