The thesis interrogates the US policy on Women, Peace and Security. This policy is based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the subsequent resolutions that address the situation of women in conflict and post-conflict settings. The main research question is as follows: How does the US policy involve the politics of protection?
The research is informed by feminist studies of international relations in general, and by the contributions of Wendy Brown (1995) and Iris Marion Young (2003) on the politics of protection in particular. The archive covers a collection of documents issued by the Federal Government of the United States but the textual priority is given to one particular text: United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2011). Through the analysis of this text, the thesis “reads off” the US policy on Women, Peace and Security. The problem representation is outlined and followed by the interrogation of this policy as discourse involving the politics of protection and specifically, formed under the logic of masculinist protection. The transformative potential of this policy is examined in regard to the objective of gender equality. The thesis further involves a juxtaposition of the US policy with the Norwegian policy on Women Peace and Security.
Although on the face of it the US policy on Resolution 1325 resembles the earlier policy on oppressed women in Afghanistan and Iraq that appeared shortly after the terrorist attack of 9/11 and justified military interventions in these countries, my empirical findings show that at the same time this policy is a distinct case and includes new elements. The politics of protection does not exhaust the understanding of this policy and the gender power relations produced within it appear to be more complicated. Although the dominant representations of men/masculinity, that is, the perpetrator of (sexual) violence and the provider of security, are consistent with the logic of masculinist protection, the representation of women/femininity differs. The US policy does not constitute women as only passive victims of violence who are in need of protection. Nevertheless, this representation is still based on the old generalizations about women as peaceful mothers, caregivers and actors of positive change. Ultimately, the space of autonomy remains limited. Finally, since the US policy constructs women as “different”, it is likely to reproduce instead of reducing gender inequalities.