Women and War: After Afghanistan, There's a Chance to Deploy Gender-led Approaches to Conflict

Women and War: After Afghanistan, There's a Chance to Deploy Gender-led Approaches to Conflict by Hannah West - Post Graduate Researcher in Security, Conflict and Justice, University of Bath - The Conversation

… So where do women fit into this gendered idea of counterinsurgency? During the influential British campaign in Malaya, an extensive self-help community outreach programme was coordinated by Lady Templer, the General’s wife, supported by the British Red Cross and Women’s Institute.

In Northern Ireland, female soldiers were employed on special duties as covert surveillance operators able to easily blend in with the community.

The British Army introduced women-led engagement teams to Afghanistan in 2010, using female soldiers to interact with the local population. It is unsurprising that these teams were largely discredited given that they had an ill-defined mission, against which it was hard to judge success or even objective.

There is a danger that gender-focused policies in war zones become tokenistic and rapidly forgotten. They risk failing simply because they run counter to the dominant masculinised campaigns, and the way we currently think about conflict.

But as the British military thinks about counterinsurgency in the post-Afghanistan era, there is surely an opportunity to embrace more enlightened ways of integrating gendered policies for contemporary operations – and to challenge how we think about what we want our soldiers to do, and how we train them to do it…

Read on.

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