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Defining Gender

When the word “gender” is used, many leaders and decision-makers equate it to the word “women” … neglecting not just men and masculinities, but also neglecting the idea that gender is a construct. Gender can also be fluid, based on a spectrum, instead of a binary idea, a concept neglected by equating gender to women alone.

When we use gender in the context of security, we mean women/femininities and men/masculinities, and the social, normative, and structural implications of placement along a gender spectrum for individuals, communities, states, and their security.

Diversity matters. Having women at the table matters. Like people of color and those of different religions or genders, women experience different challenges and can face greater obstacles to progress — particularly in security-focused careers and institutions that are male-dominated. These experiences give women perspectives that often diverge from the “traditional” or mainstream, helping us see both problems and solutions that remain invisible to a more homogenous team. Including the voices of leaders who face different challenges and inequities — and are normally excluded from roles of power — is critical to finding unique and creative solutions to intractable problems… like war.

Jeannette Gaudry Haynie and Kyleanne Hunter

How Can I Apply a Gender Lens?

To start, READ. Get curious. Ask questions. Learn from those who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, have different experiences and backgrounds from you. To apply a gender lens is to be curious.

What Can I Read?
A sample of resources:
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez (2019)
Primed for Violence: The Role of Gender Inequality in Predicting Internal Conflict by Mary Caprioli (2005)
Gender Makes Sense: A Way to Improve Your Mission by the Civil-Military Cooperation Center of Excellence (2013)
Whose Security? Practical Examples of Gender Perspectives in Military Operations by the Nordic Center for Gender Perspectives in Military Operations (2015)
Gender Perspectives and Military Effectiveness by Robert Egnell (2016)
Through a Gender Lens: The Need for Robust Research into Diversity and Military Effectiveness by Jeannette Gaudry Haynie (2019)
Hawks, Doves, and Canaries: Women and Conflict by Brenda Opperman (2014)
Women and Gender Perspectives in the Military by Robert Egnell and Mayesha Elam (2019)
The Military’s Sexual Assault Blind Spot by Eric Carpenter (2015)
Demographics of the U.S. Military by George Reynolds and Amanda Shendruk (2015)
Sovereign Masculinity: Gender Lessons from the War on Terror by Bonnie Mann (2013)
Globalization and Militarism: Feminists Make the Link by Cynthia Enloe (2007)
Gender, War and Conflict by Laura Sjoberg (2014)
War and Gender by Joshua Goldstein (2001)
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter (2014)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2008)