Gender Mainstreaming in Bosnia
“Gender mainstreaming is not a ‘soft’ issue,“ but “is at the core of security” – thus conflict researcher Johanna Valenius in her study “Gender mainstreaming in ESDP missions”. In 2006 Valenius and Judith Batt conducted a study for the Council of the EU, to determine whether those who participated in the EU’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo acted in a gender-sensitive manner.
Their conclusions were devastating. Firstly, it was only the presence of the “internationals” that caused the sex industry in Bosnia and Kosovo to flourish. Secondly, few female soldiers or police were deployed so that the EU missed the chance to provide a new role model: “If the EU itself does not practise what it preaches it loses credibility and effectiveness.” Male commanding officers justified this either by the lack of separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters, or by the “threat” posed by women to the cohesion of the troops. Others claimed that female soldiers would not be accepted in Muslim societies, although many armies in Islamic countries are familiar with women in the military. Thirdly, the EU was “unfortunately invisible” to local women’s groups and organizations of civil society; many women activists perceived EU staff as “arrogant and colonial.”
Johanna Valenius: Gender mainstreaming in ESDP missions, Chaillot Paper No.101, Institute for Security Studies Paris, May 2007, https://www.iss.europa.eu/content/gender-mainstreaming-esdp-missions