International organisations and donors claim that countries with higher degrees of gender inequalities are the
most prone to engage in violent conflict (OECD 2017; UNWOMEN 2015). Therefore, as part of UN peace
operation mandates, countless initiatives for gender-sensitive reforms in all domains and practices of the
security field, such as Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR), Security Sector Reform
(SSR) and Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism (CVE/PVE) have been designed and implemented.
However, despite their potential for peace, the efficiency of these reforms and the legitimacy of international
gender equality norms upon which they are embedded, are wildly contested from all fronts. There is thus an
urgent information need to methodically and scientifically understand how international gender equality
norms are translated into systematised security practices in post-war countries. We need to apprehend under
which conditions their assumed benefits (for individual women in uniform or for society at large) are likely
to materialize, and with what material and structural consequences for that uniformed personnel to whom
these norms are directed.
Through a multi-disciplinary approach, the project will fundamentally change the academic field of norm
diffusion, introducing a new methodological-theoretical design that brings to the fore the embodied subject
to be governed by norms, in this case, women in uniform from post-conflict settings. The results of the
project will open the way for radical changes in norm studies as well in feminist theorizations of power and
knowledge. It will also provide policy-makers empirically supported data on how security and sustainable
peace can be best achieved in conflict-affected settings.
The project is groundbreaking conceptually, empirically and theoretically. It will (1) conduct a systematic
mapping of the scope, nature and modalities of UN-led and UN-supported gender reforms in armed forces;
(2) study empirically and comparatively how uniformed women and local armed forces experience,
understand, contest and/or reproduce these norms, and (3) develop a critical and postcolonial norm diffusion
framework that can be used to conceptualize gender reforms in ways that contribute to engendering just,
stable and secure societies.