RESDAL began studying gender issues through an investigation into the incorporation of women into the armed forces across the Latin American region and its derivatives in peace operations. The results of the project, which began in 2008, show the point to which the region was prepared for a discussion of this caliber: in two years the issues was placed on the regional agenda, it impacted the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, it lead to the issue being adopted by the countries themselves, studies and events were organised in this respect and, in some cases, the incorporation of women into branches of the armed forces that were previously closed to them was also planted. The result of the initial research is published in Women in the Armed and Police Forces, Resolution 1325 and Peace Operations in Latin America.
As a natural extension of RESDAL’s work and expertise on the subject, the project then moved to the global arena, examining the incorporation of a gender perspective into international peace operations. Rooted in fieldwork, RESDAL began by engaging in two case studies of Peacekeeping Missions where Latin American contingents were heavily deployed: MINUSTAH (Haiti) and MONUSCO (DRC).
Among the achievements of RESDAL’s work were not only an international conference held in Buenos Aires and chaired by the then Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, with the presence of representatives of MINUSTAH and MONUSCO and government and military officials of DRC, Haiti, and TCCs, but also the appointment of gender focal points in all contingents of MINUSTAH, the direct engagement of the Ministry of Gender of the DRC with Latin American counterparts, and the production of a joint report between RESDAL and the Gender Unit of MINUSTAH. The findings from these case studies can be found in the publication “Engendering Peacekeeping: the Cases of Haiti and Democratic Republic of Congo”.
More importantly than these achievements, awareness of the existence of an international regulatory framework on Women Peace and Security seems to have gained traction among decision-makers of TCCs at the regional level, and RESDAL's focus is currently engaged in examining whether and how that awareness translates into greater understanding and action, taking the case of UNIFIL (Lebanon), as the axis. A case study was carried out in May/June 2014, and the findings will be available shortly.
For RESDAL, thinking about gender in peace operations is related to the resolution of conflicts and the democratisation of society. In the same way, we believe that the growing relationship with other regions is the path that lies ahead.
We focus on gender because we believe it to be a prerequisite to the construction of a lasting peace.