Women and Militarization Before, During and After Wars: A Feminist Approach to the Women Peace and Security Agenda

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 19:00
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
PeaceWomen Project

Women and Militarization Before, During and After Wars
A Feminist Approach to the Women Peace and Security Agenda
14th November, 2012
UN Church Center, NY 777 UN Plaza East 44th St and First Ave, New York.
CYNTHIA ENLOE, Research Professor at Clark University

On 14th November 2012, PeaceWomen in partnership with the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein were pleased to host Professor Cynthia Enloe, research professor at Clark University (and WILPF member), as a part of a new lecture series on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

Professor Cynthia Enloe is a pioneer in the field of feminist international relations. Her work has illuminated the exploitation of women, femininities and masculinities in political, globalization and militarization processes. From the factory floor to the lives of military wives – her work has been revealed how imperative it is to maintain a ‘feminist curiosity' and to take the lives of women seriously.

To open the discussion Professor Enloe asked the audience (most who reside in the greater New York area), to reflect on hurricane Sandy and share their gender analysis of the recent storm and its aftermath. Her probing facilitated a reflection around the notion that if we, as practitioners, academics, and policy makers neglect gender in our daily lives, why should we be surprised when others do the same?

This prelude set the stage for a lively conversation, which included topics ranging from the current situation in Syria to the greater assumptions ascribed onto WPS.

Professor Enloe spoke to the importance of assumptions, as they are the “things that go unsaid but motivate people”. She challenged participants to examine their own assumptions, and to reflect on how we may investigate, expose and challenge the assumptions of those we seek to influence in advocating for WPS our every day practice.

She further developed this statement giving examples of some common assumptions often used to dismiss the importance of gender, and women's security issues. Some of these include:

• the notion that women have always been insecure, that women's insecurity matters less for political stability than does men's insecurity;
• that women's experience of insecurity is no different then mens;
• that the oppression of women is good for the political order.

Professor Enloe stressed this last assumption is one that most won't articulate openly, or even be aware that of, however, she further elaborated that this assumption might actually be deeper and more widespread than we've considered.

Enloe further articulated the perpetuation of women's silence as one of the main pillars of political stability. She stressed the need for a continued action against the perpetuation of this silence as a means to progress the WPS agenda. She emphasized that insecurity/ security, and the making of insecurity/security, is in itself a process, and that the process is in fact deeply gendered. To quote Enloe, “gender blindness only works if there are no gender differences.”

After speaking with the New York community, Professor Enloe headed to Princeton University to continue the lecture series hosted by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. This lecture was recorded and is available to view click here

Document PDF: 

INVITATION: Women and Militarization Before, During and After Wars

Enloe Notes