Feminist institutionalism
in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory
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Feminist institutionalism aims to understand and explain how power is distributed within institutions. As a political project, feminist institutionalism (FI) seeks to disrupt existing power settlements within institutions and facilitate change by identifying and challenging institutional barriers that sustain gender inequalities and other forms of discrimination. This chapter explores how FI contributes to explaining how peacekeeping is a gendered enterprise in the context of the global racialised and classed power relations that underscore the contemporary international security system. The chapter first discusses the key assumptions of FI and considers how the theory can help explain why contemporary peace operations take the shape that they do. Applying an FI approach to the study of institutional change and institutional reproduction, the chapter then examines how the implementation of gender equality initiatives in the Ghana Armed Forces impact on the way in which female military peacekeepers from Ghana are deployed to UN peace operations. Two institutional barriers that are known to prevent women’s meaningful participation in peace operations are examined: recruitment processes and deployment criteria.

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