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Women in foreign affairs and international security: Contours of a timely debate

Written by Elena Lazarou with Francesca Braden,

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The debate on the participation and role of women in foreign affairs and international security is a timely and relevant one, and is being raised with increasing frequency at both national and international levels. In particular, there is growing attention to the imbalances in the representation of women in leadership and other key positions in the area of foreign and security policy, as well as to the growing body of evidence regarding the positive effect of including women in several key areas of foreign and security policy.

Among these issues, women’s role in peacekeeping receives particular attention, as research has repeatedly shown that gender equality contributes to peace, and that peace negotiations involving women have a better chance of being sustainable and effective. Gender-equal societies enjoy better health, stronger economic growth and higher security. The United Nations and the EU have put pronounced emphasis on the issue in the past two decades. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 established the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda in 2000. Since then, more WPS-related resolutions have been adopted, widening the scope and breadth of gendered peace and security. These resolutions have been instrumental in changing the philosophy and rhetoric focused on conflict and gender equality, thereby challenging the international community to do more. Several initiatives are also being implemented at EU level, including through the 2018 EU Strategic Approach to WPS. However, critics posit that a lot remains to be done, as women continue to be under-represented in the field of foreign and security policy across the world.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Women in foreign affairs and international security: Contours of a timely debate‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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