Several high-level UN reviews reassert that female peacekeepers enhance operational effectiveness of peacekeeping missions supporting the implementation of protection of civilian mandates. Yet how female uniformed peacekeepers are trained and deployed by Troop Contributing Countries is under theorised in the peacekeeping literature.
Applying a Bourdieusian feminist practice theory approach to the study of norm implementation, this article introduces a fourth level of analysis, the embodied subject who is expected to be governed by peacekeeping norms. It does so by examining the training experiences of Rwandan tactical-level female military peacekeepers deployed in mix-gender contingents to UNAMID. It is argued that the pre-deployment training space is a field of norm contestation and negotiation, wherein gendered peacekeeper subject positions and gendered peacekeeping labouring practices are constructed. Trained to perform a scripted Rwandan female subject position, some women find they are not adequately prepared for the more challenging situations they find themselves in when working in multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations and devise alternative, informal training practices to better equip themselves prior to deployment.
Dr Georgina Holmes is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, her research examines the development of gender mainstreaming as a policy frame in global governance and peacekeeping, norm implementation dynamics, and the training and deployment of African and European uniformed personnel in peacekeeping operations. Georgina is co-convener of the BISA Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Working Group; an Associate Chair of the Africa Research Group, Department of War Studies, King’s College London and Co-Chair of the Gender Cluster for the West Africa Peace and Security Network. She has published in several peer reviewed academic journals including International Peacekeeping, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Journal of Genocide Studies and the RUSI Journal and is the author of Women and War in Rwanda: Gender, Media and the Representation of Genocide (2013, I.B Tauris).