Chapter 30: Abstract

The United Nations, Gendered Human Rights, and Peacekeeping since 1945

Sandra Whitworth (York University, Department of Political Science)

In Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600, ed. by Karen Hagemann et al. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 746-66.


Feminist observers of peacekeeping have asked why very little has changed within the peacekeeping of the United Nations since 1945, despite a greater overall attention to questions of gender within the UN: for example, despite calls for greater representation of women on missions, they continue to constitute a small fraction of the personnel deployed; despite calls to ‘gender mainstream’ missions, peace operations often result in heightened insecurity for some women and girls. This chapter examines the evolution of UN peacekeeping alongside an examination of the greater attention devoted to questions of women and gender within the UN system from 1945 to the present. It argues that the ultimately ‘problem-solving’ approach to gender and peacekeeping adopted by the UN limits the possibility of any substantive impact its policies around gender may ever achieve.


Post-1945; United Nations; peacekeeping;  militarism; gender equality; gender mainstreaming; sexual violence; gender; masculinity.

Part IV: "From the Global Cold War to the Conflicts of the Post-Cold War Era" of the Oxford Handbook on Gender, War and the Western World since 1600.

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