Gender experts and gender expertise as a field of knowledge production and policymaking emerged in the late 20th century in response to the growing acceptance of gender mainstreaming in national bureaucracies as well as international organizations. Initially conceptualized as femocrats, gender experts and the resources devoted to them were welcome as important achievements of feminist movements in making their demands part of institutional frameworks. However, gender expertise is at the center of two important debates in feminist scholarship. First, feminist scholars, including those who have held positions as gender experts, debate the relationship between advocacy, professionalization, and the dangers of co-optation. These debates often connect with discussions of co-optation in broader scholarship on transformations in feminist discourses in institutional spaces. Second, critical scholarship has also produced much empirical data on the power inequalities in complex organizational settings within which gender experts operate. This scholarship focuses more on the actual experiences of gender experts. These debates may also give rise to new research on and with gender experts concerning the interactions between the researcher and the research subject, the positionality of thinking and writing today with hopes for (and despairs about) tomorrow, and the need to problematize binaries of the East and the West, the Global North and the South in knowledge production.
Gender Expertise in International Organizations
Gender and Governance
Gender has been conceptualized in various ways in the mainstream governance literature and critical feminist work. The relationship between the concepts of gender and governance can be viewed as governance of gender and gender governance. The governance of gender is related to the way in which the values that permeate governance reflect traditional gender regimes. On the other hand, gender governance concerns governance in policy areas that, in the first instance, directly deal with women's issues. Gender governance is about the attempts to change gender regimes by inserting new policies, procedures, and values through global and multilevel governance, for example via the UN and the EU. In feminist studies that have focused on the state, the literature that is of particular interest to governance studies looks at the role of the state in gender relations. It studies, for example, the representation of women in electoral bodies and parties, theorizes representation in political bodies, and looks at the organization of welfare politics. In the field of international relations, feminist scholars are particularly interested in exploring the gender aspects of globalization and how the neoliberal order organizes women's lives. Governance has also been explored in relation to the EU and the term multilevel governance has become a standard concept in EU studies. The concept gender regime or gender order has been used by many researchers who study gender governance in the EU context.
Women as Objects and Commodities
The engagement between the discipline of international relations (IR) and feminist theory has led to an explosion of concerns about the inherent gendered dimension of a supposedly gender-blind field, and has given rise to a rich and complex array of analyses that attempt to capture the varied aspects of women’s invisibility, marginalization, and objectification within the discipline. The first feminist engagements within IR have pointed not only to the manner in which women are rendered invisible within the field, but also to IR’s inherent masculinity, which masks itself as a neutral and universally valid mode of investigation of world politics. Thus, the initial feminist incursions into IR’s discourse took the form of a conscious attempt both to bridge the gap between IR and feminist theory and to bring gender into IR, or, in other words, to make the field aware that “women are relevant to policy.” In the 1990s, feminist literature undertook incisive analyses of women’s objectification and commodification within the global economy. By the end of the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century, the focus turned to an accounting for the agency of diverse women as they are located within complex sociopolitical contexts. The core concern of this inquiry lay with the diversification of feminist methodologies, especially as it related to the experience of women in non-Western societies.
Women and Academic Organizations in International Studies
Karen Erickson and Elisabeth Prügl
Academic organizations introduce gender, race, nationality, and other signifiers of power into the field of international studies. Research on the status of women in the international studies profession has typically focused on the distributions of women and men according to academic rank, salaries, and employment. A number of detailed case studies have explored practices in particular academic departments and universities in order to elucidate the mechanisms in place that help to reproduce gender inequality. We can gauge the progress that women have made with regard to their status and role in academic organizations over the years by looking at the International Studies Association (ISA). The ISA presents a mixed picture of international studies as a field of gendered power. While women have entered leadership positions in the association, they have done so mostly at lower levels, while men continue to dominate the positions at the top, the ISA president and executive director. Women have made some advances into editorial positions, but gatekeeping in the scholarly journals published under the auspices of the ISA remains largely a male preserve. Furthermore, women and men in the ISA reproduce gender difference and inequality by re-enacting gender divisions of labor while participating in an economy that circulates symbolic capital. An important consideration for future research is the assumption that international studies is a field of complex gendered power that cannot be easily explained by purely singular tools of analysis.
Women as Agents of Violence
Caron E. Gentry
The public/private divide assumes that men are the (public sphere) actors gendered toward the possibility of violent action, specifically as soldiers, combatants, guerrillas, or revolutionaries, whereas “proper” women within the private sphere are gendered to be non-violent or peaceful actors. Women who engage in the political sphere are condemned for deviating from the private, and more so when they are involved in violence. Indeed, women who operate as agents of political violence are accused of transgressing both gender norms and the normative conceptualization of a state’s monopoly on violence. Feminists have challenged the veracity of this public/private circumscription through their evaluation of women as agents of political violence. Earlier feminist work dehumanizes politically violent women, making their violence more damaging and mental health more damaged than men who commit the same violence. Feminists later moved away from this dehumanization and instead portrayed women as helpmates to the politically violent organization and its male members. Some or most mainstream approaches refer to women involved in sub-state political violence as “terrorists,” and women terrorists are socially constructed as doubly illegitimate actors. Instead of focusing on what must be wrong with the women who engage in political violence, research should identify the reasons behind their actions, such as perceived injustices against them, their community, and/or political and civil rights.
Institutions and Gender
Elisabeth Prügl and Hayley Anna Thompson
Feminism seeks to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men. Until now, women face serious inequalities based on social institutions such as norms, cultural traditions, and informal family laws. Scholars argue that this aspect has so far been neglected in international policy debates, and that there needs to be further discussion about the economic status of women (labor force participation); women’s access to resources, such as education (literacy) or heath (life expectancy); and the political empowerment of women (women in ministerial positions). In some instances, social norms such as female genital mutilation or any other type of violence against women–within or outside of the household–not only violate women’s basic human rights, but seriously impair their health status and future chances in a professional career. Gender stereotypes are also frequently brought up as one disadvantage to women during the hiring process, and as one explanation of the lack of women in key organizational positions. Liberal feminist theory states that due to these systemic factors of oppression and discrimination, women are often deprived of equal work experiences because they are not provided equal opportunities on the basis of legal rights. Liberal feminists further propose that an end needs to be put to gender discrimination through legal means, leading to equality and major economic redistributions.
Gender and Global Security
Valerie Hudson, R. Charli Carpenter, and Mary Caprioli
It is not only gender ambiguity that is securitized in the international arena, but femininity as well. Some scholars argue that conflict over what women are and what they should do is characterized as a risk to national/global security. Meanwhile, there are those who would characterize gender as irrelevant to, or is one of many variables, in thinking about “security.” Feminist international relations (IR) scholars, however, have argued that gender is across all areas of international security, and that gender analysis is transformative of security studies. A redefinition of security in feminist terms that reveals gender as a factor at play can uncover uncomfortable truths about the reality of this world; how the “myth of protection” is a lie used to legitimize war; and how discourse in international politics is constructed of dichotomies and that their deconstruction could lead to benefits for the human race. Feminist work asserts that it is inadequate to define, analyze, or account for security without reference to gender subordination, particularly, the dichotomy of the domination/subordination concept of power. Gender subordination can be found in military training routines that refer to underperforming men as “girls,” or in the use of rape and forced impregnation as weapons of war. It is the traditional sense of “power as dominance” that leads to situations such as the security dilemma.
Gender and the State
Natalie Florea Hudson
One of the main arguments advanced by feminists is that we must move beyond adding women to existing structures and institutions, and focus more on the theoretical, cognitive, and even moral commitments that emphasize the very creation and ongoing reproduction of such political bodies. Central to this concern are the feminist debates about the state and the gendered reproduction of the state in discourses ranging from security and violence to development and globalization. Feminist theorists have raised various approaches and critiques against the state. Some have shown how the state is deeply and fundamentally embedded to patriarchy, while others have described the state as a terrain that can be deconstructed and reconstructed in a manner that moves away from systems of domination, gendered hierarchy, and power over towards arenas that foster inclusion and emancipation. In response to mainstream international relations (IR) theory, feminists have argued that the state and its related notions of citizenship and sovereignty are gendered social constructs. They continue to challenge the primacy of the state in mainstream IR, while also engaging the state as an important political actor in the feminist quest for emancipation, equality, and justice. One strategy employed by some feminist organizations and women’s movements in an attempt to go beyond gender balancing and the rather basic goals of liberal feminism, but to still find ways to engage the state and state actors in meaningful ways, is gender mainstreaming.
Feminist Perspectives on Foreign Policy
Anne-Marie D'Aoust and Béatrice Châteauvert-Gagnon
Foreign policy analysis (FPA) deals with the decision-making processes involved in foreign policymaking. As a field of study, FPA overlaps international relations (IR) theory and comparative politics. Feminist perspectives on foreign policy look at global politics with the aim of understanding how gender as an analytical lens and a sophisticated system of power produces, and is produced by, foreign policy (analysis). There are two main spheres of feminist inquiries when it comes to foreign policy: the role of women as sexed power holders involved in decision-making processes and power-sharing in the realm of foreign policymaking, and the role of gendered norms in the conduct and adoption of foreign policies. One the one hand, feminist foreign policies as a state policy orientation embraced by some governments (e.g., Sweden or Canada) are geared toward gender equality in one or multiple areas pertaining to foreign policy (aid, trade, defense, and/or diplomacy). Such policies claim that prioritizing gender equality in foreign assistance serves broader economic and security goals. On the other hand, gender mainstreaming, one of the major international developments in foreign policy, moves toward a broader engagement with the way institutions have distinctively gendered cultures and processes that inevitably affect outcomes: do diverse assumptions about femininity and masculinity affect the bureaucratic procedures and, by extension, the policy results? Broadening feminist takes on foreign policy, queer perspectives aim to bring to the field a distinctive focus on how foreign policies are productive of, and produced by, not only gendered norms, but also sexualized norms, subjectivities, and logics. These different areas of policy focus do not preclude the instrumentalization of women’s rights for foreign policy purposes, such as military interventions made in the name of women’s rights, that can be detrimental to women.
Women Teaching International Studies
Mary N. Hampton and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris
One aspect of women’s professional experience in the field of international studies is that of teaching. Women’s experience in the gendered classroom has been shaped by three general factors: their identity, their interests, and the institutions in which they work. Major dimensions of identity can be grouped into: identity as reputation; identity as race and sex; and identity as role models and mentors. Meanwhile, women’s teaching is clearly affected by their scholarly interests, which impact on both the subjects they choose to teach and their pedagogical approaches. While it would not be surprising to find that women teachers tend to teach more about women and feminism, a major survey of International Relations (IR) faculty in the United States found other significant differences between women and men in the classroom, often linked to women’s differing research interests. Women’s teaching is also impacted by the institutional environment in which they work. Surveys and studies across the academic spectrum confirm the importance not only of gender equity at institutions, but also the presence of an institutional climate, or culture, that is friendly to women faculty. Major elements that affect the institutional environment include the number of faculty women (including senior women); the type of institution (its focus on research or teaching); and the ability to offer feminist and gender courses, and related pedagogies.
Gender and Transitional Justice
Maria Martin de Almagro and Philipp Schulz
Transitional justice (TJ) refers to a set of measures and processes that deal with the legacies of human rights abuses and violent pasts, and that seek to aid societies transitioning from violence and conflict toward a more just and peaceful future. Much like the study of armed conflict and peacebuilding more broadly, the study and practice of transitional justice was traditionally silent on gender. Historically, gendered conflict-related experiences and harms have not been adequately addressed by most transitional justice mechanisms, and women in particular have been excluded from the design, conceptualization, and implementation of many TJ processes globally. While political violence perpetrated against men remained at the center of TJ concerns, a whole catalogue of gendered human rights abuses perpetrated primarily against women has largely remained at the peripheries of dominant TJ debates and interventions. Catalyzed by political developments at the United Nations within the realm of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda and by increasing attention to crimes of sexual violence by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), however, the focus in the 2000s has been radically altered to include the treatment of gender in transitional contexts. As such, considerations around gender and sex have increasingly gained traction in TJ scholarship and praxis, to the extent that different justice instruments now seek to engage with gendered harms in diverse ways. Against this background, to the authors review this growing engagement with gender and transitional justice, offering a broad and holistic overview of legal and political developments, emerging trends, and persistent gaps in incorporating gender into the study and practice of TJ. The authors show how gender has been operationalized in relation to different TJ instruments, but the authors also unearth resounding feminist critiques about the ways in which justice is approached, as well as how gender is often conceptualized in limited and exclusionary terms. To this end, the authors emphasize the need for a more sustained and inclusive engagement with gender in TJ settings, drawing on intersectional, queer, and decolonial perspectives to ultimately address the variety of gendered conflict-related experiences in (post)conflict and transitional settings.
Feminist Perspectives on the Environment
The field of gender and environmental studies deals with the ways that gender roles shape the access to and management of resources. From being dominated by old debates on whether the earth is our mother goddess or whether women are inherently closer to nature than men, gender and environmental studies has evolved into a largely activist-informed and materially-focused discipline. Feminist perspectives are now being articulated in a variety of wide-ranging themes and issues such as environmental justice, global climate change, population debates, disasters, water, and militarization. The main feminist perspectives for studying women and the environment can be divided into two “umbrella” groups: the “ecofeminist” camp and the “materialist” camp. The ecofeminist group argues that there is an “innate” connection between domination of nature and the oppression of women and that there exists a system of patriarchy in human society that leads to the domination of the “Other.” The materialist camp rejects this claim. It makes use of two approaches, feminist environmentalism and Feminist Political Ecology (FPE), to contend that women’s oppression is rooted in structural and material inequalities. Some of these feminist perspectives, including ecofeminism and feminist environmentalism, are applied by the field of Gender, Environment, and Development (GED) to the environmental policy domain. Three transnational environmental organizations doing GED work are GenderCC—Women for Climate Justice, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), and Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN).
Gender and the Global Political Economy
Feminist and gendered interventions in the discipline of international political economy (IPE) traces the constitutive and causal role that gender plays in the diverse forms, functions, and impacts of the global political economy (GPE). There are subtle distinctions between “feminist” and “gendered” political economy. The term “feminist IPE” is assigned only to those scholars who identify directly with feminism and label themselves feminist. “Gendered IPE” includes feminist IPE, but also incorporates those analyses not necessarily centered on women’s work, their practices, and their experiences. Whether understood empirically or analytically, increased references to “gender” in IPE invariably resulted from the extensive, varied, and challenging feminist theorizing that had made visible the neglect of sex and gender in IPE. Indeed, gendered IPE scholarship is dedicated to transforming knowledge through committed gender analysis of the global political economy, deploying “gender” as a central organizing principle in social, cultural, political, and economic life. A relatively recent theoretical turn in gendered political economy thoroughly highlights the problems involved when gender is entirely associated with the body as a mark of human identity. Contemporary gendered IPE covers the variety of ways in which analysis of a person’s sex is simply not enough to describe their experiences. Indeed, ongoing feminist and gendered IPE concerns generally focus on the marginalization of gender analysis in IPE. Meanwhile, promising avenues in gendered IPE include gender and sexuality in IPE, as well as gender and the “Illicit International Political Economy” (IIPE).
Gender, Mobility, and Displacement: From the Shadows to Questioning Binaries
Deniz Sert and Fulya Felicity Turkmen
The evolution of the construction of gender in migration studies can be appraised under several distinct headings. In the beginning, women were simply “in the shadows” with no recognition of them as potential or actual migrants. Eventually, the field moved to an “add women, mix, and stir” approach, which saw women recognized in migration studies and statistics for the first time. Here, gender was no more than a demographic category to ensure women were counted alongside men in migration flows. However, deconstructing the feminization of migration required that gender be understood as integral to the experience of migration, thus demanding more refined theoretical and analytical tools. Subsequently, migration intersected with masculinity studies, which showed the reciprocal relation where masculinity can be decisive in migratory decision making, and in return, mobility can be an essential factor in how men think about masculinity. More recently, gender in migration studies has moved beyond binary gender roles. Research on the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) refugees and asylum seekers demonstrates the importance of the relationship between sexual orientation, gender identity, and identity construction in navigating migration journeys beyond the male-female binary. This raises the question of how salient this development is for international studies. While the disciplines of political science and international relations were rather late to the study of international migration, migrants and refugees have become issues of high politics in the early 21st century. Thus, there is a need to revisit and revise how different disciplines intersect in the interest of more effective policymaking based on better data.
Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
Philipp Schulz and Anne-Kathrin Kreft
Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, notable progress has been made toward holding accountable those responsible for conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), with a view toward ending impunity. Developments by the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, as well as by the International Criminal Court, were instrumental to advancing jurisprudence on sexual violence in the context of armed conflict. Despite progress in seeking to hold perpetrators accountable, critics note that there is persistent impunity and a vacuum of justice and accountability for sexual violence crimes in most conflict-affected settings globally. At the same time, feminist scholars in particular have critiqued the ways in which criminal proceedings often fail sexual violence survivors, especially by further silencing their voices and negating their agency. These intersecting gaps and challenges ultimately reveal the need for a broader, deeper, thicker, and more victim-centered understanding of justice and redress in response to sexual violence.
Teaching about Gender and Sexuality in the International Relations Classroom
Laura Sjoberg and Jon Whooley
Feminist pedagogy considers the scholarship on and practices of teaching gender and sexuality in global politics. Humans narrativize (tell stories about) their lives, creating stories about the world that they see in order to make sense of their complicated realities. As such, there are multiple story lines of the ways that a feminist curiosity can affect approaches to teaching, strategies for teaching feminist curiosity, the role that genders and sexualities play in constituting the international relations (IR) classroom, and approaches to teaching material related to genders and sexualities in global politics. There are six story lines that reveal the distinctive features of feminist pedagogy: foregrounding an explicitly feminist politics, treating knowledge as situated, reimagining the purpose and structure of the classroom, recognizing and combating alienation, broadening the view of texts available for teaching and learning, and including explicitly activist components in teaching strategies. Across these story lines, feminist teaching is an important part of feminist academic practice, where pedagogy with a feminist curiosity foregrounds the politics of feminisms and the politics of pedagogy.
Women’s Participation in Violent Non-State Organizations
Meredith Loken and Hilary Matfess
Women are active participants in violent non-state actors/organizations (VNSAs). They engage in the front-line environment as armed fighters; participate off the front line as spies, recruiters, medics, and logisticians; and lead military units, hold political positions, and craft policy and outreach efforts. Women participate in VNSAs for a myriad of reasons and through a number of pathways: they join voluntarily as politicized recruits; are recruited through economic resources, potential for adventure, or other practical opportunities; may view VNSAs as a survival choice; or may be forcibly recruited. Women’s participation in VNSAs is significant both for the characteristics of political violence—as women often have unique discursive importance to organizational narratives and representations—and for conflict outcomes. VNSAs’ gender dynamics and the diverse experiences of women participants also shape post-conflict processes and durable peace efforts. The integration (or exclusion) of women from demobilization and reintegration programming, peace negotiations, and former-militant political parties affects the nature of the post-conflict political settlement.
Kathleen M. Jennings
“Peacekeeping economy” designates the political economy of a peacekeeping operation. It broadly encompasses economic activity that either would not occur, or would occur at a much lower scale and pay rate, without the international peacekeeping (or peacebuilding) presence. Peacekeeping economies are, to a significant degree, inextricable from peacekeeping missions: While they are not under the purview or direct control of the mission, the formal and informal economic activity that they include is important to peacekeeping missions’ ability to function in the host society. Of course, behind this simple formulation is a significantly more complex phenomenon. Moreover, the peacekeeping economy is not just an interesting empirical reality. It is also a useful analytical framework for examining and better understanding how peacekeeping is designed, regulated, and done; its socioeconomic, gendered, and racialized dimensions; and its (intended and unintended) consequences.
Feminism and Gender Studies in International Relations Theory
Feminist theories of international relations have thrived over the past decade as evidenced by the many and varied feminist contributions to the international relations field. At the same time, international relations feminists have had rich theoretical debates among themselves over critical questions about epistemology, ontology, methodology, and ethics. Feminist theories of international relations are distinguished by their ethical commitments to inclusivity and self-reflexivity, and attentiveness to relationships and power in relationships. These norms implicitly guide feminists to put into practice their own critical theories, epistemologies, and explicit normative commitments. Thus, rather than a source of division, the contestations among international relations feminisms about the epistemological grounds for feminist knowledge, the ontology of gender, and the appropriate ethical stance in a globalizing albeit grossly unequal world are a source of their strength. With a shared normative commitment to global social change, feminist scholarship and social movements can appreciate and even celebrate internal diversities and multidimensional identities. In this respect, feminist international relations can be described as a movement that shows what is to come and that offers innovative methods to get there. In the context of current United Nations reform, feminist movements have cited the need for a global institutional powerhouse to promote the rights of women and girls worldwide, rather than a system where everyone is responsible for integrating gender perspectives.
Gender in the Classroom
Although the study of women and gender flourished at intersection of comparative politics (CP) and international relations (IR), mostly international political economy (IPE) and Development Studies, much of IR itself was resistant at its core. Explicitly feminist analysis challenged the core with several decades of research that instructors can incorporate into their classes. The incorporation/transformation challenge can be daunting, however, as publication outlets for research on women, gender, and feminism often remained separate from mainstream journals, with some promising exceptions. These separate tracks are now changing, but instructors still need to check multiple places to prepare for courses and identify good assignments. And although IR feminists seek interaction with the IR core, the core IR theorists are wedded to frameworks associated with realism, liberalism, Marxism, and others, or to positivist, quantitative methodologies that may rely on flawed and male-centric databases rather than grounded field research. A major challenge in the next 40 years involves growing the interactions among bordered subfields; analyzing the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and nationality; and engaging with southern voices outside the US and Western-centric IR field. In this vein, the classroom is a major arena in which critical thinking, contestation, new research, and action agendas emerge.