Abstract: Third countries' intervention in post-conflict settings highly influences the future of conflict-torn countries and, as such, has become a pillar of international peacebuilding since the post-Cold War era. The efficient reform of the security sector is a key factor for a successful and durable peace following the departure of foreign countries' contingents stationed on the ground. It offers concrete opportunities for enhanced gender equality in post-conflict settings. Women's inclusion in the security sector reform agenda is a fundamental component for the future achievement of gender equality. The analysis of Norway's experience in Meymaneh highlights the strength and exposes the shortcomings of an intervening country's agenda for women's inclusion in transitional countries.
Problem statement: How to attempt the implementation of gender equality policies in post-conflict settings through the reform of the security sector?
Bottom-line-up-front: Attempts to gender the security sector of a post-conflict country by third parties generally manifest a weak implementation of and compliance with international standards supporting gender equality, such as UNSCR 1325. Its implementation on the ground did not deliver satisfactory results, notwithstanding promising premises on paper, even in the case of Norway, a pioneer in gender inclusion in its interventions.
So what?: Third countries providing support to state-building and post-conflict reconstruction need to adhere to international standards for women's inclusion and implement principles of equal participation and representation more decisively, diverting more funding to 'women's training and inclusion to bridge the gap between normative frameworks and effective implementation.
Willingness to Commit Is Not Enough
The reform of the security sector and its institutions in post-conflict countries has become one of the central elements of international intervention in the post-Cold War era. The growth of state-building activities and the attention to post-conflict reconstruction has driven the international actor's agenda to focus on enhanced support to those institutions of the state that guarantee its security. Making such institutions transparent and accountable and enhancing their effectiveness and performance is a fundamental component of durable and sustainable peace. Third countries' intervention in support of the reconstruction of conflict-torn environments could shape the way the security sector will be reformed through funding and personnel deployed on the ground; the intervening states' (donors') agenda has the possibility (and the responsibility) to include in talks, policies, and actions a gendered component to the security system.
The significant inclusion of women through participation and representation in all stages of security sector reform, from planning to implementation up until evaluation, is not only required by the Agenda on Women, Peace and Security but is also fundamental for the construction of an inclusive, locally owned, and sustainable peace that guarantees that the security needs of all individuals are met. Despite praiseworthy declarations made by pioneers of gender equality, such as the members of the Nordic Council, the reality of women's inclusion in the security sector reform often differs from the stated goal.
Despite praiseworthy declarations made by pioneers of gender equality, such as the members of the Nordic Council, the reality of women's inclusion in the security sector reform often differs from the stated goal.
Norway's experience as a participant in the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maymaneh, Afghanistan, proves that there is a long road ahead: commitment to women's equality in security sector reform is surely admirable, but the disappointing implementation of the pledges made is disappointing. To guarantee comprehensive security and sustainable peace, women's needs must be taken seriously into account: the willingness of the donors to commit is not enough if the concrete implementation of inclusive measures does not follow it.
Defining Security Sector Reform
The main aim of the security sector reform (SSR) is to "enhance the performance and accountability of police, military and intelligence organizations to improve basic elements of the security for the individual (…) moving far beyond technical definitions of security institutions, following a more ambitious agenda of strengthening a state's ability to govern the security sector". USAID defines SSR as "the set of policies, plans, programs, and activities that a government undertakes to improve the way it provides safety, security, and justice" intending to provide these services in a way that "promotes an effective and legitimate public service that is transparent, accountable to civilian authority, and responsive to the needs of the public." The security sector can be seen to comprise the entities authorized to use force, justice and law enforcement institutions, and security management and oversight bodies. Security sector governance and reform is a relatively new activity, and it is not yet fully established: it cannot be defined as a specific set of activities; rather, a broad set of requirements for measures aiming at the reform of the security sector can be identified. Generally speaking, SSR must be subject to the principles of civilian oversight, accountability, and transparency. How this should be done in practice lies in the hands of policymakers and is shaped by the specific circumstances that characterize the context where the operation is developing.
From a donor's perspective, SSR might include integrated activities supporting the wider security sector, such as defense and armed forces reform, oversight, security planning and support, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and civilian oversight. Partnerships with post-conflict countries in reforming the SSR must be guided by a holistic view, with the overall objective of guaranteeing sustainable and durable peace, respect for human rights, and democracy. The security sector reform in a post-conflict country must be done by ensuring national and local ownership, incorporating principles of good governance and human rights, and balancing operation support with institutional reform to ensure the reconstruction process is sustainable in the long run. Every initiative, therefore, must follow the principles of transparency and democratic accountability with the main goal of delivering security and justice effectively. The paradigmatic shift from national to human security, which has happened since the end of the bipolar international order, has shifted the attention of policymakers to the necessity to assist the security sector in the reconstruction phase. As of today, international interventions aimed at accomplishing a greater good: international cooperation based on an order focused on values of good governance and human rights. In this framework, human security is the result of a new international consciousness guiding the actions of the main international organizations in dealing with peacebuilding and conflict resolution since the 1990s.
Partnerships with post-conflict countries in reforming the SSR must be guided by a holistic view, with the overall objective of guaranteeing sustainable and durable peace, respect for human rights, and democracy.
A human-focused understanding of security is concerned with ownership and participation and focuses on people's particular experiences and needs, considering their values and knowledge. Human security "draws attention to a wide scope of threats faced by individuals and communities, focusing on the root causes of insecurities and advancing people-centered solutions that are locally driven, comprehensive and sustainable". The achievement of human security not only implies the absence of threats but also needs to encompass the empowerment dimension as well: protection and empowerment are the two building blocks for achieving the broader goal of human security.
Protection refers to the top-down dimension of security, where institutions and processes have the duty of protecting people from pervasive threat; empowerment is seen as a strategy to support the agency of local communities and shape their capability to act and react to difficult conditions, following a bottom-up logic that aims at the development of ownership. As Hudson emphasizes, "the main point is to understand security comprehensively and holistically in terms of the real-life, everyday experiences of human beings and their complex social and economic relations as these are embedded within global structures". This implies that all the direct stakeholders have the right to participate in each decision regarding their own security and must be enabled to do so. Most of the time, however, the strong normative power of the concept of human security overshadows its effective implementation at the policy level, excluding from the discussion all those individuals that cannot make their voices heard. Indeed, the model of local ownership tends to ignore power relations in the country, with the result that those local recipients involved in the reform process consist in a "narrow stratum of like-minded elites, often Western-oriented technocrats".
The main point is to understand security comprehensively and holistically in terms of the real-life, everyday experiences of human beings and their complex social and economic relations as these are embedded within global structures.
Integrating Gender Perspectives in SSR
In this new security sector reform framework, "gender equality is a constituent part of a long-term, holistic approach to SSR". The universality of human security is recognized as one of the most prominent features of the new holistic approach to security. In that case, human security must take into account gender in order to prove to be an effective framework for the reform of the security sector. In the words of Muguruza, "gender is a vital component of the human security agenda (…) Through the utilization of a human security perspective, it is possible to generate policies that are at once sensitive to the insecurities of vulnerable women as well as integrating these concerns into a wider narrative of human threats". A critical feminist perspective on the study of security, and especially human security, is crucial to overcoming certain gender silences and truly empowering and providing agency to all those voices that are silenced. If human security lacks a gendered perspective, it cannot be considered as respecting its true essence.
As Hudson stresses, gender is intrinsic to the subject matter and politics of security. As of the years of Norway's intervention in Afghanistan (2005 – 2012), the inclusion of gender was still a relatively new area of concern in the field of security sector reform, and it was still in the early stages of its implementation. As Salahub and Nerland point out, there were few good practices and practical tools to support the integration of gender and SSR, and even fewer resources drew directly on experiences from actual SSR processes, making the Norwegian PRT pioneering in this field.
Integrating a gendered perspective into SSR is critical, as security needs differ based on gender: women and men experience insecurity in different ways and therefore need different strategies to ensure their security. National security sectors can ultimately only be effective through the active participation of both women and men as spokespersons for their own particular needs. The greater contribution of women can enhance a security sector's understanding of and response to the security needs of different segments of society. The normative assumption underlying the necessity of the inclusion of women in SSR is enshrined in the multitude of international documents focusing on gender and constituting the legal standards for women's participation in SSR. For example, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security represents the culmination of the discourse, stressing the necessity for a gendered approach to security.
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security represents the culmination of the discourse, stressing the necessity for a gendered approach to security.
Concrete benefits complement the normative framework delineating the need for women's inclusion in SSR in terms of reform efficiency. Promoting the inclusion of women in international crisis management missions and military action would contribute to the effectiveness, credibility and legitimacy of these security sector institutions, a fact that experts in the SSR field recognize – a fact which was demonstrated by all the panelist of the Belgrade Forum's side event Women in Security Sector (2019) who agreed on the need to gender the security sector in order to deliver more satisfactory results in terms of overall security and gender equality.
Including gender in planning and development of SSR is a tool for guaranteeing the respect of democratic principles and human rights and ensuring the efficiency of a security system. The OECD DAC Handbook on SSR – Integrating Gender Awareness and Equality – summarizes the arguments for the need for a gender-inclusive SSR as follows: "the comprehensive integration of gender equality dimensions into SSR processes is critical to ensuring local ownership, effective delivery of justice and security services, and strengthened inclusion, oversight and accountability".
The necessity to gender the security sector is not only a matter of idealist discussions on the correctness of including women in talks regarding SSR. Rather, from a more realistic and rational calculation of costs and benefits, integrating gender issues into SSR processes can be rewarding enough to convince even the most skeptical practitioners: gender inclusion in SSR development cycle guarantees enhanced operational efficiency. From this perspective, taking differences between men and women into account when reforming the SSR strengthens the ability of the security institutions to prevent and respond to violence, thus serving the security needs of the public. In addition, a security sector that involves women's stances and includes female personnel benefits from representation: representative security sector institutions that mirror the wider society are seen as more trusted and legitimate by both local constituencies and international actors. Equal opportunities for participation in security delivery are also operationally beneficial: women's presence provides advantages in terms of accessibility to actions (such as corporal search) that could not be performed by male personnel and supports SSR by virtue of their links with conflict-affected communities and sensitivity to the experiences of women during armed conflict.
A security sector that involves women's stances and includes female personnel benefits from representation.
In order to build sustainable SSR initiatives integrating gender perspectives, the programming and implementation of the reforms must be done by integrating gender throughout the whole development cycle. A gender-responsive SSR development cycle includes – but is not limited to – gender equality and the promotion of mainstreaming; addressing gender-based and sexual violence; gender balance in decision-making; gender and human rights training; and gender perspectives in dealing with displaced people and Disarment, Demobilization, and Reintegration processes. Among those many strategies for a gender-responsive SSR, gender mainstreaming – understood as the assessment of the gender implications of any policies put in place – can be considered the first fundamental step towards a gender-inclusive reformed SSR. "Mainstreaming is not about just adding a (…)' gender equality component' or an assumptive 'improvement for women' into an existing activity".
Still, it is rather about empowering women in order for them to cooperate in the development of a security system that takes into account their own particular needs, experiences and interests. As such, it encompasses all the aforementioned gender components of the SSR development cycle, providing the basis upon which more operational inclusion can be built. Gender mainstreaming in the security sector is, therefore, a "process of assessing the positive and negative implications for women and men of any planned actions, including legislation, policies or programs, in all areas and at all levels". Mainstreaming gender equality into security sector management focuses on facilitating equal opportunity for women and men to participate in the sector. It requires enhancing conditions for women by improving recruitment, retention and career advancement and providing a safe working environment. It can include various activities, such as introducing specialized training on gender management, mentoring staff from underrepresented groups, ensuring equal pay, and providing relevant training in addressing traditional "women issues" such as sexual or gender-based violence.
Generally speaking, the implementation of SSR programs consists of assessment, design and planning, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation of the progress. Concrete steps to integrate gender into SSR programming cycles must be adapted to the specific context; as a matter of principle, however, a gender-inclusive SSR would ensure an equal representation of men and women responsible for the development cycle of SSR. Specific measures can be undertaken in all phases of the development of SSR, including, for example, involving gender advisors in the drafting phase of SSR policies, training teams with a specific preparation in gender issues, and including gender experts and gender coaching initiatives to build support as regards gender issues and gender capacity.
While gender mainstreaming can be more difficult to implement in practice given its wide scope and possible application, specific gender balancing reforms can constitute more immediate and short-term effective actions to tackle women's under-representation in the security sector, laying the foundations for gender mainstreaming in SSR development. Such gender balancing reforms aim at the quantitative increase of the proportion of women in the security sector. While it is widely acknowledged that an increased number of women does not necessarily mean increased participation or representation, in the reconstruction phase of a state where awareness regarding gender issues is often lacking or is set aside for the sake of seemingly more important matters, increased representation is a first step that can ease the task of reforming the system through a gendered lens. Huber and Karm identify at least five types of gender balancing reforms: the adoption of gender quotas for women in the security sector, the implementation of female-focused recruitment in national security institutions, the removal of gender restrictions from certain security roles, the promotion of women into high-ranking positions, and the adoption of National Action Plans (NAPs) for UNSCR 1325 aiming at implementing a national framework for SSR. These more concrete policy-level actions can constitute easier access points for women into the security sector, enhancing state awareness of the issue of gender equality in SSR and clearing the way for a mainstreaming discourse.
While gender mainstreaming can be more difficult to implement in practice given its wide scope and possible application, specific gender balancing reforms can constitute more immediate and short-term effective actions to tackle women's under-representation in the security sector.
The OECD DAC Handbook identifies common challenges to implementing a gendered SSR that have hindered the progress of such reforms so far. Today, the challenges remain the same as 15 years ago. SSR reform and gender inclusion surely developed more in terms of the awareness of the need for local ownership of the reform, as new approaches – evolutionary and based on flexibility and gradual development – emerged from criticism of the kind of SSR that was in place at the time of Norway's intervention in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, intervening states and international organizations such as the UN still tend to prioritize technicalities and efficiency of the process without paying much attention to the local context, where local authorities as well dismiss "gender" as a superfluous dimension to tackle. The change in paradigm to date is still at a normative and idealistic level, producing few changes in how SSR is put into place. Wilen stresses how three main challenges lead gender and SSR to remain an idealistic conversation and not a real matter: the perceived tension between local ownership and gender; the fact that intervening actors are not so credible when they themselves lack gender inclusion as they are mainly men; the inability to tackle the private sphere when reforming the public, with the result that structural violence remains. Social norms regarding the role and behavior of women are the major obstacle to effective gendered SSR implementation on the ground: where the dominant culture "prohibits women from working within the security system, that becomes a significant challenge for the security sector reform.
The creation of a gender-responsive and inclusive security system in a society where gender stereotypes are deeply entrenched and social change is opposed cannot occur alone but must instead be accompanied by political reforms to support gender equality, women's participation in politics, and institutional reform, as well as education on gender equality at a grassroots level. Reform must be carried out without losing the focus of local ownership: reforms in post-conflict countries must come from local constituencies, and their needs and experiences must guide their development for the changes to be sustainable in the long term. A perhaps easier obstacle to overcome lies in donors' approaches to the matter. Gender is often left out of international stakeholders' talks regarding security sector reform, and attention and funding are diverted to different programs. More "urgent" threats, such as efficiently reconstructing a functioning and legitimate state structure, often overshadow the importance of integrating gender in SSR.
Reform must be carried out without losing the focus of local ownership: reforms in post-conflict countries must come from local constituencies, and their needs and experiences must guide their development for the changes to be sustainable in the long term.
SSR in Post-Conflict Countries As An Opportunity to Gender the Security Sector
Gender roles undergo massive change during conflict. This change can open up opportunities for greater involvement of women within security institutions. Huber and Karim identify three dimensions through which women can take advantage of post-conflict reconstruction. First of all, the presence of a past conflict might be able to shift gender roles thanks to the dynamics of the previous conflict. Women's role during conflict might demonstrate their agency, and their participation in war-militarized organizations can challenge gender norms and make them considered suitable for the security sector. Furthermore, the distrust in the security sector after a conflict can improve women's position, as it requires a total reformation of institutions. That reform constitutes an open window for women's participation in radical change from the previously failed institutions. Reforming SSR with the inclusion of women can enhance the perception of legitimacy of the institutions that the population needs, stressing local agency and ownership. Nevertheless, international priorities on the intervening countries' side, local culture and customs, and unawareness of the above-mentioned benefits that gender inclusion can bring to the reformed security system often act as barriers in the process.
Therefore, the donors' role has proven to be crucial for stabilization efforts in post-conflict countries.
The reform of the security sector in conflict-torn environments is essential to building sustainable peace and guaranteeing enhanced security, both of which are fundamental to initiating reconstruction and development. A peace support operation understood as international assistance activities aimed at peace maintenance, offers many entry points for integrating gender into SSR. The operation's mandate can support the inclusion of female recruitment into the reformed security system institutions and the establishment of gender units. Furthermore, gender training for the deployed troops can ensure the integration of gender in post-conflict reconstruction. International actors such as the UN, NATO, or bilateral missions can help the state-building effort, shaping women's role in the process. These actors do so by both bringing additional funding and personnel who are often required to have a gender training background and influencing states' decisions based on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Funding from international agencies is directed towards those institutions that "closely align to international policy agenda," and the prioritization of issues of women and security by international donors can direct the reform of the security sector towards a dimension of inclusivity in line with the international orientation on gender matters. Connecting funding, support and reputation to a gender equality agenda can, in conclusion, influence the reform of the security sector in post-conflict environments leading to an enhanced representation and participation of women in the security sector. However, third parties' influence can sharply contrast with principles of local ownership and raise concerns about "the sustainability and success of gender balancing reforms if they are implemented due to international pressure and not domestic political will".
International actors such as the UN, NATO, or bilateral missions can help the state-building effort, shaping women's role in the process.
Gender and External Assistance to SSR: Norway's Experience in Faryab Province, Afghanistan
Norway is internationally recognized as a leading donor state supporting security sector reforms in post-conflict environments. It has committed to doing so in bilateral and multilateral ways through the participation and funding of UN-led and NATO projects. Among the expertise that Norway can provide in support of security sector reforms, its gender-sensitive approaches represent a "significant niche area of Norwegian expertise and experience". As a newly elected member for the 2021 – 2022 term, the presence of Norway in the Security Council of the United Nations opened new doors for gender inclusion in reconstruction processes. Its presence was expected to positively affect the approach of the UN with regard to a gendered SSR, given that its priorities deeply focused on women's participation. A recent statement by Norwegian Ambassador Mona Juul acknowledged the fundamental role of donor countries in raising awareness regarding the necessity of including the gender dimension in both peace talks, at the first stages of conflict resolution, and state building, including reforms aiming at the renewal of the security sector in a gendered perspective. In her words, "individual Member States must follow up too, through the people we deploy, the training we provide, the candidates we promote to key positions, and the strategies we adopt. We must- and we will- continue to push for the right of women to participate in all aspects of the UN's peace and security efforts".
In January 2022, during its presidency of the Security Council, Norway brought to the forefront several recommendations focusing on women and peace processes to drive forward the matter of women's inclusion as a fundamental topic for the Security Council. In that same month, Norway's UN representatives also expressed the priority of women, peace and security in the Colombian peace process, deeming it fundamental to lasting peace – an act which showed how the Norwegian presidency kept focusing on women's inclusion in peace and security. Furthermore, it promoted the "Protecting participation - Addressing violence targeting women in peace and security processes" open debate, focusing on enabling environments for women's participation in international peace and security, once again centring its month of the presidency on women's inclusion. In March 2022, Norway, acting as the penholder of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, drafted and approved a new mandate for the Security Council in Afghanistan, ordering UNAMA to integrate gender mainstreaming and promote empowerment and equality of women and girls, including safe participation. The approval of the Norwegian-drafted resolution allowed UNAMA not only to advocate for women's empowerment but also to engage with them. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how effectively this initiative will be implemented, as the Taliban still impedes women's participation to this day.
In January 2022, Norway brought to the forefront several recommendations focusing on women and peace processes to drive forward the matter of women's inclusion as a fundamental topic for the Security Council.
The Norwegian National Action Plans for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 express the willingness to commit to exporting gender equality in its foreign interventions, providing a strong emphasis on the gender perspective in security. Gender equality as a principle is seen as encompassing all actions undertaken by the government – not only those projects which directly have gender equality as a goal. All Norwegian funding and programs must be planned and assessed considering their impact on gender equality. Norway acknowledges the necessity to train the deployed Armed Forces in terms of gender equality to carry out a broad spectrum of tasks in the framework of a comprehensive approach to human security. The presence of women in military and police personnel is deemed a fundamental need in terms of the operationalization of gender in operations and missions.
Norway's commitment to gender equality is particularly evident in gender mainstreaming terms. The integration of women’s and men's security, rights and needs in all areas of operations and missions is a pillar in its foreign intervention. Gender mainstreaming in security sector reform planning and development is enhanced through the participation of Norway in exercises, training and operations that aim at education and training on gender matters. Norway's capacity building in post-conflict environments particularly focuses on empowering women in the security sector in compliance with the broader framework of local ownership in human security. The funding and support that Norway provides to post-conflict reconstruction is aimed at supporting the integration of gender perspectives in rebuilding the state and the security sector reform.
Norway's capacity building in post-conflict environments particularly focuses on empowering women in the security sector in compliance with the broader framework of local ownership in human security.
However, despite its praiseworthy statements and declarations, the implementation of gender inclusion in SSR missions, even in the case of a leading state like Norway, faced several shortcomings. In the framework of the Policy Directive on UN Resolution 1325 of NATO, independent experts from NORAD Countries conducted interviews in the field to identify practices and lessons related to the integration of the Resolution in NATO's Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). A thorough analysis of the Norwegian PRT in Meymaneh (2005 – 2012) underlines those gaps that Norway did not address in terms of gender equality in SSR. Norway in Faryab was mandated to assist the Government of Afghanistan in building security and governance and promote development to establish a safe and well-governed Afghanistan through supporting the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Despite the commitment to gender equality and the intention to use gender as a cross-cutting reference to critically shape external support, Norway's PRT was unsatisfactory from a gender point of view. The overall view of the mission personnel was that women’s issues were not part of the mandate. None of the military personnel received information related to women, which could be included in analysis or planning, nor were there any procedures for reporting information about women's security and women's inclusion in support of the security sector. The Norwegian personnel did not receive specific gender training, and no gender focus was incorporated into the planning or the implementation of stabilization and security operations, in contrast with the content and aims of the Norwegian declarations.
The role of Gender Advisor was introduced in Faryab Province to comply with UNSCR 1325. The function was expected to provide advice and gender support to the Norwegian command and, at the same time, to build relationships with the local population and security forces, providing support in terms of gender awareness. However, not all the gender advisors appointed during the mission period had the necessary skills to comply with the requirements of the role. Even if they were trained enough to comply with the role, they were not equipped enough to perform their duties. In this respect, the function of a gender advisor to the operation was a mere façade to show compliance with the resolution rather than a serious attempt to adhere to the standards Norway declared to follow in its NAPs.
One of the tasks of the PRT was partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces to mentor them and provide the necessary training to support durable stability after the deployment period. Despite the call for the integration of gender perspective in peacekeeping operations, the Norwegian police who trained and mentored the Afghan National Police did not have specific training on women's issues and, therefore, could not instruct the local authorities on gender equality – although such training was required on paper. No source at the headquarters could recall situations in which they adapted their tasks to the inclusion of Afghan women, and the only cases where women's issues were formally integrated happened when a female police officer arrived. This officer was assigned the responsibility of the women's project, reproducing the idea of "women for women's issues", which stands in sharp opposition to gender mainstreaming and further reiterates the stereotyped idea that women should take care of gender evaluations as a better fit for the role. Even more striking, this lone female officer was told that the project would not continue if no woman were in the next police contingent.
In 2010, the PRT leadership criticized the lack of gender expertise within the mission. The deployed Norwegian troops did not incorporate a gender perspective in Afghan-led operations, failing their commitment to exporting gender equality through their peacekeeping operations. The deployed forces were not adequately organized to achieve the stated political objective of focusing on women, peace and security in all international engagement efforts. Gender perspectives and Resolution 1325 were not seen as particularly relevant to how the Norwegian PRT conducted its military operation. One of the fundamental components of resolution 1325 is consultation with local and international women's networks and organizations: the Norwegian Armed Forces, due to a lack of cultural awareness caused by limited training, did not have the degree of success that would have been expected. Lack of a deep understanding of the positioning of women in Afghan society and of the views on women in the armed forces by local constituencies added a further line of complications to an efficient gender-aware SSR.
The deployed Norwegian troops did not incorporate a gender perspective in Afghan-led operations, failing their commitment to exporting gender equality through their peacekeeping operations.
Good Intentions, Weak Implementation
The analysis of the Norwegian approach to gender and security sector reform underlines good intentions but a weak implementation of policies supporting gender equality. High compliance with UNSCR 1325 and the development of very accurate and detailed projects on how to implement the resolution on the ground do not guarantee satisfactory results.
Therefore, even after almost a decade of practice in gender inclusion in peacebuilding missions, there is still an urgent need to bridge this gap between the praiseworthy normative framework for gendered SSR and its effective implementation at the policy level on the ground. At the same time, the current Taliban rule makes it impossible to evaluate the effective results of the mission in terms of gender inclusion in the security sector. Despite the effort made by Norway during its presidency at the UN Security Council, it remains its eventual future mission to effectively put into practice the proposed and praiseworthy normative frameworks. The several entry points for gender equality in post-conflict countries' reform of the security sector are useless if there is no commitment to the real implementation of the principles to which intervening countries adhere on paper. In the context of foreign intervention, countries providing support to state building and the reconstruction of the security institutions need to implement the principles of equal participation and representation of women to comply with their mandate more decisively.
The several entry points for gender equality in post-conflict countries' reform of the security sector are useless if there is no commitment to the real implementation of the principles to which intervening countries adhere on paper.
"States must have the willpower to make gender reforms a priority". The resources for post-conflict reconstruction are limited, and where states do not consider gender issues as a priority, they will divert the funding to more important sectors of the system. Most of the time, the challenges to the implementation of gender-inclusive reforms and the necessity to attain different security objectives outweigh the perceived concrete benefits of a gendered SSR, causing a backlash in terms of women's participation and representation despite the recognition of gender equality as a fundamental pillar for sustainable and durable peace.
Alice Cian, recent MA graduate with honors in International Crime, Justice, and Security at the University of Bologna. Interested in post-conflict reconstruction, gender studies, countering terrorism and radicalization. Previous academic research focused on collective identities and radicalization to Jihadism, gendered experiences in immigration detention, and gender and partisan representation in governments. The views contained in this article are the author's alone.
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 Ibid, 3.
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 Huber and Karim, "The internationalization of security sector gender reforms in post-conflict countries."
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 Birgith Andreassen, Synne Holan, and Bjørg Skotnes, “The Norwegian PRT in Maymaneh,” in Operational Effectiveness and UN Resolution 1325: Practices and Lessons from Afghanistan, Defence Analysis, Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) (2009): 84 – 97.
 Cecilie Fleming, “Women, Peace and Security?,” Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) (2016), https://blogs.prio.org/2016/09/women-peace-and-security/.
 Norwegian Commission on Afghanistan, “A Good Ally: Norway in Afghanistan 2001–2014,” Official Norwegian Reports NOU (2016), 8.
 Norwegian Commission on Afghanistan, “A Good Ally: Norway in Afghanistan 2001–2014.”
 Fleming, “Women, Peace and Security?.”
 Norwegian Commission on Afghanistan, “A Good Ally: Norway in Afghanistan 2001–2014,” 141
 Huber and Karim, "The internationalization of security sector gender reforms in post-conflict countries."