Dr. Karin L. Johnston, Dr. Diorella Islas, Larissa Abaunza
On October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), the first of ten Security Council resolutions that together comprise the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda to advance gender equality and women’s representation and participation in all decision-making processes in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Its passage was the culmination of decades of international efforts to ensure women play an active role in addressing the impacts of war and conflict on their lives along the spectrum of conflict resolution, peacemaking, peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and conflict prevention. Since 2005, creating National Action Plans (NAPs) within countries worldwide has become a major vehicle for institutionalizing the WPS agenda. The focus on peacekeeping and the participation of women in security sector forces brought renewed attention to the process of integrating a gender perspective in military and national police operations. In 2020, Women In International Security (WIIS) was approached by the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) to establish a baseline of data and best practices to assist partner nations in Latin America and the Caribbean in evaluating the implementation of the WPS agenda in their respective security sector forces. WIIS reported its first findings on 14 countries (13 countries in the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR) plus Mexico) in the 2020 report “Enhancing Security: Women’s Participation in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The present report continues the work that began in 2020 to study progress in implementing the WPS agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean. This second report examines the remaining 15 countries in the USSOUTHCOM AOR utilizing the research questions and methodology framing the 2020 report. Supporting the conclusions from the 2020 report, the 2023 study shows that despite many countries lacking national militaries or NAPs, all countries in the study have strong normative frameworks in place to advance gender equality at the national level. There is growing momentum in integrating gender equality in military and defense forces, police forces, and other forces responsible for public security, though the pace and scope among the countries vary. Nevertheless, the study also underscores that the gap between the rhetorical support of gender equality and the implementation of the WPS agenda persists, challenging governments to apply the necessary political will and resources to advance gender equality and the WPS agenda in the region. The findings of our assessment examining the level of integration of gender equality and the WPS agenda in security forces in Latin America and the Caribbean are outlined below:
Countries have developed a range of regional and state agencies, institutions, and agreements that reflect a commitment to greater advancement towards gender equality in security forces, even in the absence of a NAP and references to the WPS agenda;
A broad commitment to gender equality and gender integration both nationally and in security institutions has not seen consistent, transformational changes in policies and practices that can recruit, promote, and retain women in security forces;
Women’s representation in military and national police forces remains low;
Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are poorly resourced, often lacking the data collection and civil society interaction that allow decision-makers to identify problem areas in plan implementation and make needed course corrections. Based on these findings, the report proposes the following recommendations: National Level:
Adopt a WPS NAP: A WPS NAP can be a valuable tool that supports and complements a nationallevel gender mainstreaming strategy. It induces government actors to work together at the national and local levels and more closely with civil society. It also creates avenues for greater gender participation throughout the plan’s design and implementation.
Ensure Civil Society Participation: Include civil society actors from the earliest stages of plan development and throughout the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation phases.
Commit Human and Financial Resources: Using a gender-responsive budgeting process, governments should ensure gender-equitable allocation and distribution of resources and provide sufficient staff, including GENADs and GFPs, to ensure a NAP’s sustainability.
Monitor and Evaluate Progress: An effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism should be in place and appropriately funded.
Ensure Transparency: The defense forces and public security institutions should consider communication strategies to publicly share their progress and challenges in advancing their gender integration efforts. Institutional Level:
Expand Women’s Operational or Combat Positions: Efforts should expand beyond creating gendersensitive recruitment policies and material to aim for women’s unrestricted and equal access to all military, police, and security forces positions. Often, restricted operational positions are pathways for promotion to senior ranks.
Evaluate Quality of Life and Force Retention Policies: Policies that provide support and incentive for women to remain in the force should be institutionalized, e.g., providing and designing maternity and paternity leave policies and available childcare facilities, extending family leave policies, and providing equipment and facilities that serve women’s needs.
Appoint a Gender Advisory Workforce: To support the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming and WPS principles at all levels of decision-making—strategic, tactical, and operational—security institutions should appoint GENADs and GFPs who have training in WPS and gender studies.
Institutionalize WPS Training: Implementing foundational training at all military service branches and rank levels to educate and integrate the WPS agenda and gender equality should be a high priority in the military and national police forces. Regional Level:
Create an Annual WPS Summit: Representatives from the defense forces, national police agencies, and subject matter experts (SMEs) should meet regularly to share best practices and lessons learned to ensure continued advancement in gender integration.
Create Regional Training Courses: Create a joint WPS strategy training for countries considering or developing a WPS strategy or that have yet to appoint a GENAD.
Gender and Regional Climate Cooperation: As regional cooperation increases in response to growing alarm about the impact of climate on security, ensure that a gender dimension is an integral part of any resulting regional framework for preventing, mitigating, responding, and adapting to climate change and environmental disasters.
Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Ellen Haring, Diorella Islas, Ana Laura Velasco
The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, launched by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) adopted in October 2000, brought renewed attention to the importance of the integration of a gender perspective for the effectiveness of military and police operations. It also pointed to the importance of increasing the participation of women in security (military and police) forces.
This report examines to what extent the WPS agenda, and more generally the principles of gender equality, have been integrated in the security sector (military and national police) in 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The research was commissioned by the Women, Peace and Security Program at the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with the objective: (a) to establish a baseline of data and best practices with regard to the integration of the WPS agenda in security forces in Latin America and the Caribbean; and (b) to provide a framework for future partnerships between US SOUTHCOM and security forces in the region. While US SOUTHCOM commissioned the research, the authors bear sole responsibility for the content of this report and any errors or omissions.
Our research draws on an assessment tool developed by Women In International Security (WIIS) that examines how countries have integrated the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in security institutions and operations. More specifically, the tool defines indicators that measure: (1) the level of political commitment to gender equality and the WPS agenda; (2) how that commitment is translated into practice; and (3) what accountability measures have been adopted—that is, how well policy and practice are monitored and evaluated.
This report is based on desk and literature research in Washington, DC and field research conducted by 14 volunteer country research teams composed of active and retired members of the police and the military, academics, government officials, policymakers, and members from civil society organizations.
The findings of our assessment examining the level of integration of the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in the security forces in Latin America and the Caribbean are outlined below.
Overall Regional Assessment
The overall integration of the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in security forces in the region (all countries combined) is robust, with an average score of 64.6 (on a scale of 1-100).
Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have strong normative frameworks for gender equality in place, are party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and have professed support to the WPS agenda. It provides a strong backdrop for the integration of the gender equality and WPS agenda in the security sector. That said, in most countries political rhetoric is often not matched by consistent implementation. In addition, most countries lack systematic monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (see Figure 1).
Figure 4: Overall
Of the 14 countries examined for this report, four countries scored above the average regional score.
Four countries scored around the regional average, and six countries fell below the regional average. What is common to the countries that scored high is that they have strong scores across all 3 categories of assessment. (See Table 1)
For many police and military organizations in the region, gender equality and the integration of the WPS agenda is focused on the number of women in the forces. That said, gender mainstreaming and the integration of the WPS agenda in military and national police forces requires more than just adding women; it also requires the integration of a gender perspective in operations and addressing gender norms and gender stereotypes in the organizations themselves. Military and police organizations are highly gendered—masculine—constructs. Introducing gender perspectives and increasing the number of women does not come naturally to these institutions. Change only comes about with strong leadership from the top and continuous and systematic attention at all levels of military and police organizations.
Policy & Practice Monitoring Reporting & Evaluation
Trinidad & Tobago
Table 1: Average
National Scores by
Main Findings by Category
All countries were assessed using simple sets of indicators that measure political will, the institutionalization of WPS principles in policy and practice, and, whether monitoring and evaluation mechanisms have been put in place.
The most important measure of political will is whether countries have adopted WPS National Action Plans (NAPs).
Of the 14 countries surveyed in our report, five have developed WPS National Action Plans and five are in the process of developing a WPS NAP.
In most countries the WPS agenda and WPS NAPs are seen in the context of external engagements, most notably UN peacekeeping operations. While most countries see the WPS agenda as applicable only to armed conflict, some countries in the region have integrated human security challenges, such as human trafficking (Argentina) or rights of refugees (Brazil).
Institutionalization (Policy and Practice)
NAPs are most effective when they are accompanied by detailed implementation plans.
Most countries lack specific implementation plans with clearly defined goals and resources for implementation.
In all countries in the region, women remain under-represented in the military and the police. Even fewer women reach senior ranks. Many security forces have policies that exclude or limit (through the imposition of caps) women’s participation in the police or military. Few countries have welldefined recruitment strategies or set targets to increase women’s participation in the security forces.
The prevention of sexual harassment and abuse is critical to create a women-friendly work place, but few countries have programs to address harassment or abuse in the ranks.
Knowledge about the WPS agenda remains limited, and training on gender and the WPS agenda is ad-hoc and unsystematic.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and reporting are critical for learning and identifying progress. Monitoring and evaluation practices must be an integral part of any NAP and implementation plan and include all stakeholders, including civil society organizations in the planning and implementation stages.
Few countries in the region have robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that involve civil society.
Sex-disaggregated data about women in the military and police are not systematically collected or published.
The report concludes with two sets of recommendations. One is for governments in the region and their military and police forces. The other is for the region as a whole and identifies specific actions countries in the region and the US government (including US DoD and US SOUTHCOM) can take to advance the WPS agenda and solidify partnerships in the region.
All countries in the region have strong normative gender equality frameworks in place. This should provide a solid basis for governments in the region to apply the political will necessary to develop WPS NAPs. The most effective NAPs are whole-of-government efforts that engage all governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders and cover the entire range of security challenges, including human security and non-military security challenges.
All government agencies, including military and police forces, should develop implementation plans with clear goals and benchmarks for measuring progress.
Governments must back up their commitment to NAPs and implementation plans by pledging the necessary resources—personnel and financial—to ensure effective implementation.
Legislatures must become actively involved in the development of WPS NAPs. They should require the executive to present NAP updates at regular intervals and pass budgets with dedicated funding streams for NAPs and implementation plans.
Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should be transparent and include members of civil society. Civil society actors are critical to ensuring transparency and providing expertise in the effective implementation of WPS NAPs.
The increase of the number of women in police and military organizations and the integration of gender perspectives in operations require actions at different levels.
Military and police organizations should develop organization-specific WPS implementation plans. This can be accomplished even in the absence of a nation-wide WPS NAP. Countries, such as Argentina and Colombia, have developed and effectively implemented military implementation plans before NAPs were developed.
In terms of gender balance, the military and police should remove all exclusions and caps that limit women’s full participation in the security forces. They should also develop recruitment programs and establish targets to increase the number of women in the ranks. Military and police should regularly collect and publish sex-disaggregated data on women in the ranks.
In terms of integrating gender perspectives in operations, and more generally the development of a gender mainstreaming strategy, the military and police should appoint Gender Advisors (GENADs). GENADs help with the development of organizational gender mainstreaming strategies, make sure that police and military exercises and operations have integrated a gender analysis, and advise on the education and training of soldiers and officers with regard to the WPS agenda. To be effective, GENADs should be located at the highest command level. In addition to GENADs, military and police organizations should appoint Gender Focal Points (GFPs) at lower levels of the organization.
GFPs are key to ensuring that implementation takes place at all levels.
International and Regional Actions:
There is a great deal of expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean that should be capitalized on for the good of the entire region. Unfortunately, the exchange and learning among security forces in the region is ad-hoc, uneven, and non-systematic. Countries in the region, including the United States government (US DoD and US SOUTHCOM), should create a WPS Center of Excellence for security forces (military and police) that can support the integration of the WPS agenda throughout the region. The Center—a multilateral governmental venture—should seek to actively engage non-governmental stakeholders. The Center would function as a regional hub to support military and police forces in the region. Areas of responsibilities would include:
Research: encourage national and regional collaborative research efforts and focus on topics supporting the integration of the WPS agenda into security forces, such as measures to eliminate barriers for women’s participation in military and police forces, monitoring and evaluation practices, collecting and publishing sex-disaggregated data on gender balances in the forces;
Education and Training: facilitate the development and delivery of WPS and gender curriculum and training for the military and police;
Convening of stakeholders: exchange best practices;
Technical support: for the development of WPS NAPs and implementation plans, particularly implementation plans for the military and police.
More specifically, the US government (US DoD and US SOUTHCOM) should embed WPS discussions in all engagements, including in all security and military senior leader engagements. They should also incentivize women’s participation in any externally funded training programs they provide to regional partners by requiring that a certain percentage of military and police women participate in the training.
The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda launched in October 2000 by the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 has been a key instrument in advancing the role of women in the peace and security arena.
The United States, including the US Department of Defense, has been engaged with the WPS agenda since 2011, when President Barack Obama launched the first National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS. The US Congress adopted the WPS Act in 2017, which directed the US government to develop a national WPS Strategy. The US WPS Strategy was released in 2019. Subsequently, in mid-2020, the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Department of Homeland Security, and the US Department of Defense published agency-specific implementation plans.
In its 2020 Implementation Plan, the US Department of Defense outlined the following lines of effort:
Seek and support the preparation and meaningful participation of women around the world in decision-making processes related to conflict and crises;
Promote the protection of women and girls’ human rights, their access to humanitarian assistance, and their safety from violence, abuse, and exploitation around the world;
Adjust US international programs to improve outcomes in equality for, and the empowerment of, women; and
Encourage partner governments to adopt policies, plans, and capacity to improve the meaningful participation of women in processes connected to peace and security and decision-making institutions.
The advancement of the WPS agenda is a key objective of US military partnerships, including in the Southern Hemisphere. Yet there is very little data on how military and police forces in Latin America and the Caribbean have integrated women and gender perspectives in their operations and activities. As a result, the exchange and learning among security forces in the Western Hemisphere on how best to integrate gender perspectives in operations and activities is ad-hoc and non-systematic.
In the summer of 2020, WIIS was approached by the Gender Advisor of US SOUTHCOM, Lt. Col. (USAF) Duila M. Turner, to develop a tool that would provide baseline data on where security forces in the region stand with respect to the integration of the WPS agenda. The idea was to develop a tool that could structure and frame discussions on these issues with partner nations.
In consultation with the US SOUTHCOM Gender Advisor, we defined three main objectives for the WPS assessment tool:
Learning: Numerous studies show that there is still little awareness and understanding of the WPS framework. While there is an increasing awareness within security establishments that conflict affects men and women differently, military and police establishments have a hard time determining what this reality means for them in terms of operations and how to convey this to their security forces. By collecting data and examining best practices, the assessment tool should become a powerful analytical and hence educational and learning tool that helps develop a greater understanding of gender mainstreaming within military and police structures.
Partnerships: Many security challenges require regional and international cooperation. The development of military partnerships is a key objective of the US Combatant Commands. For states to work well together they need to share common standards. By exchanging data and best practices on gender mainstreaming, states will be able to work together in a more efficient and effective way across the region.
Monitoring and evaluation: The assessment tool should encompass a simple set of indicators that will allow states to evaluate how well they are implementing the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in their security structures and operations.
To develop the assessment tool, WIIS drew on its experience with the 1325 NATO Scorecard project. WIIS adapted the tool from the NATO project to reflect the reality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Given the broad tasks of the military and the police in most countries in the region, and the fact that police in the region are sent to UN peacekeeping operations, we decided to include the police—that is, police that work at the national level and may be called upon to respond to cases of civil unrest, to protect the borders, or deal with in-country humanitarian emergencies.
We organized three workshops between August and November 2020. The objectives of the workshops were threefold:
Identify people in the region interested in the integration of the WPS agenda in national security forces;
Create volunteer research country teams; and
Review progress, identify gaps, and develop national and regional recommendations for how best to advance the WPS agenda in security forces.
Our initial invitation to join this project and our first workshop led to the development of a diverse list of over 100 participants from government (military, police, defense, foreign affairs, women’s and gender equality ministries), academia, and civil society from 16 countries and the creation of 14 country research teams.
In total, over 90 people from 16 countries have participated in this project at various points. Initial findings were presented at the third workshop in November 2020. At this workshop, Ambassador Jean Manes, Foreign Policy Advisor and the Civilian Deputy to the US Southern Command Commander, made remarks. In her remarks, she signaled the strong commitment of US SOUTHCOM to this effort.
Over the course of the project, WIIS created a listserv for people involved and interested in the project. The listserv was formalized into a WIIS WPS Latin America and Caribbean network at the end of the third workshop. For more information or to become a member of the network, visit: https://www. surveymonkey.com/r/GLSS6S8.
As societies and nations across the world face unprecedented challenges to gender equality, human security, and lasting peace, implementation of the WPS agenda is more important than ever. Indeed, research shows that societies are more peaceful and prosperous when women and men enjoy the same rights, liberties, dignities, and access to resources.
Policymakers around the world have made gender equality a top policy priority. This WPS assessment report highlights steps Latin American and Caribbean countries have taken to implement the WPS agenda and ensure gender equality. The need is to expand these efforts in the face of growing evidence of the strategic and operational advantages such an agenda presents to military and police forces in a country. However, the report also shows that while there is much rhetoric, there is little follow-though in implementation. The time to match rhetoric to action is now.
This project would not have seen the light of day without the support and help of many people. The project directors would like to thank key people whose support has been critical for the success of this project. First, we would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel (USAF) Duilia M. Turner, the Gender Advisor for US Southern Command, who first came to WIIS with the idea of this project and provided us with support to carry it out.
We would also like to thank all the participants in our three workshops. Over 90 participants from
16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean brought an array of perspectives from government (military, police, defense, foreign affairs, women’s and gender equality ministries), academia, and civil society. A very special thanks goes out to those who actively participated in the 14 research country teams. They were generous in sharing their expertise, time, and resources. This project would not have been possible without the dedicated support of these volunteers. They used their considerable government and non-government contacts to gather much of the data for this report. (See Annex I)
Special thanks is also due to Dr. Paula Drumond, Assistant Professor at the Pontificia Universidade
Catolica do Rio de Janeiro; Dr. Renata Giannini, Senior Researcher at the Igarapé Institute in Rio de
Janeiro; Dr. Fabiana Sofia Perera, Assistant Professor at the William J Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC; Dr. Tamya Rebelo, Professor at the Escola Superior de Popaganda e Marketing and the Centro Universitario Belas Artes de Sao Paulo, and Dr. Cristina Rodriguez-Acosta, Assistant Director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University, for their advice and support. We also thank Patricia Cepero of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for helping to navigate the administrative part of the project.
At WIIS, thanks is due to WIIS Fellows Dr. Diorella Islas and Ana Velasco. Many thanks also to Program Manager Kayla McGill and Program Assistants Allyn Anderson and Madison Beltz for their valuable research support. Lastly, thanks to WIIS member and retired Colonel Cornelia Weiss and Dr. Karin Johnston, Senior Fellow at WIIS, for their invaluable editorial support.
While this report is the product of a collective effort, we, the authors of this report, are responsible for any errors and omissions.
Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, President, WIIS
Dr. Ellen Haring, Senior Fellow and Project Director
Washington, DC, USA
Gender equality has been recognized as a core principle of human rights in foundational international, regional, and national legal texts. The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) set human rights standards that explicitly apply to every human being “without distinction of any kind, such as (…) sex.”  Latin American diplomats, legal scholars, and activists have been at the forefront of the development of these global human rights frameworks.
These legal instruments, as well as the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 1994 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (Belem do Para Convention), have been the basis for the economic, social and political empowerment of women, including their entry in national security forces—defined here as constituting the military and the police.
Support for the increased participation of women in the security sector received an important boost in 2000 when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). The resolution called on all UN member states to:
Increase the representation and participation of women in conflict prevention and conflict resolution processes, including in security institutions (military and police);
Integrate gender perspectives in the analysis of peace and security issues; and
Adopt special measures to protect women and girls from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict settings.
Since 2000, the UN Security Council has adopted nine more resolutions that have reinforced and refined what is now known as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.
Regional and security organizations as diverse as the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have developed organizationwide policies and action plans to incorporate guidance from the WPS agenda into their deliberations and actions. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was an early adopter of the WPS agenda and issued Action Plans and Strategic Directives that committed to the WPS agenda. For the Americas, the Organization of American States (OAS) has not yet formally adopted the WPS framework. However, the Inter-American Commission of Women has worked on all aspects of the WPS agenda, most notably the participation of women in political life, women’s human rights and gender violence, women’s economic empowerment, and a gendered approach to human or citizen security.
At the national level, some 86 countries have developed National Action Plans (NAPs) and legislation to implement and advance the WPS agenda. In Latin America and the Caribbean, six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Paraguay) have developed NAPs. Chile was an early adopter and global leader when it published one of the world’s first NAPs in 2009 and a second NAP in 2015. Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay are in the process of developing a NAP.
Military and police security forces are important partners in the implementation of these NAPs. Indeed, the spread of NAPs in Latin America and the Caribbean has been spurred by increasing participation of countries in the region in UN Peace Operations. Many countries and military leaders, particularly those who have been deployed in UN missions, have recognized that a more diverse force in terms of gender and gender perspectives increases operational effectiveness and readiness. For many countries in the region, the adoption of the WPS framework has also meant greater attention to the role of women in their own security forces from both an operational and a rights points of view. In addition, many civil society organizations have advocated for NAPs that reflect a more inward-looking approach. This is particularly important in a region that no longer has traditional armed conflicts, yet faces high rates of violence, particularly against women and girls.
Gender Balance, Gender Perspectives and Gender Mainstreaming
When considering gender equality and the WPS agenda within the security sector, three issues are key:
First, gender balance—that is, the equal representation of women within the force. Research has shown that more diverse organizations are more effective organizations.12 Military organizations are no different. Yet, women remain grossly under-represented in security forces around the globe, including in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United Nations has repeatedly lamented the lack of women soldiers and police in its peacekeeping operations. It is important to recognize the cultural and institutional barriers women may face in military and police forces.
Second, gender perspectives—that is, overlaying a lens that reveals gender differences when planning, executing, or evaluating military and police security force activities. The integration of a gender perspective involves the systematic and continuous process of assessing gender-based differences of men and women as reflected in their social roles and interactions. As explained by a commanding officer in the multi-national force deployed in Afghanistan, “a gender perspective is much more than female members in the team. It is about having and using knowledge about the gender roles and situation of both men and women in all activities of the mission.” A good gender analysis before activities start will greatly enhance situational awareness that, in turn, will enhance operational effectiveness.
Third, gender mainstreaming—that is, an integrated strategy by which organizations implement the concepts of gender balancing and gender perspectives across their organizations and operations. NATO, for example, has defined gender mainstreaming as “a strategy to achieve gender equality by assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies and programs in all areas and at all levels.” In other words, “gender mainstreaming is a set of specific, strategic approaches as well as technical and institutional processes adopted to achieve the goal of gender equality.”
The Latin American and Caribbean WPS assessment tool helps to measure how security forces are doing along those three axes. More specifically, it measures gender balance, gender perspectives, and gender mainstreaming at two different levels: the political level and the institutional and operational level. Lastly, it measures to what extent practices of good governance—that is, monitoring and evaluation—have been integrated.
The Latin American And Caribbean WPS Assessment Tool
The Latin America and Caribbean WPS assessment tool measures progress along three main levels: political will, institutional policy and practice, and monitoring and evaluation. For each we defined a limited set of key indicators.
The political level is a necessary first step. Is there political will and commitment to integrate the principles of the WPS agenda in the security forces—that is, is there political will to advance gender equality and gender perspectives in military and police forces? Political will can be measured in several ways. A first indicator is whether principles of gender equality have been incorporated in a country’s laws and regulations. In addition, we can measure to what extent political leaders refer to the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in their speeches. For the purposes of our project, a critical indicator of political will is whether a country has adopted a WPS NAP and whether implementation plans for the security sector have been drafted. From our research on the integration of WPS principles in NATO countries, we know that countries that mention the defense department as a principal actor and those who outline clear lines of responsibility through an action or implementation plan generally score higher on implementation than countries whose plans fail to specifically call out the military as an implementing agency. Lastly, we examine whether any resources have been allocated. Indeed, the allocation of resources is often a good measure of political intent.
The operational level is about gender mainstreaming and institutionalization, that is, how gender equality and WPS principles are integrated in institutional and bureaucratic processes. Institutionalization is critical, in that it safeguards gender equality and WPS initiatives from political turn-over and turmoil. Gender mainstreaming is about gender balance and gender perspectives. To what extent is women’s equal participation and integration in military and police forces a priority, and to what extent are institutional processes in place that are conducive to the integration of women in the military and police? This requires collecting baseline data about gender in the ranks. It also means examining measures taken to address gender imbalances, including the lifting of structural barriers and barriers related to the work environment. Three types of indicators are particularly important in this respect: first, whether all jobs are open to women; second, the existence of policies that deal with family issues (in particular, pregnancies and child care); and third, the existence of policies that deal with harassment and abuse. To what extent gender perspectives are integrated in operational policies and plans can be measured by examining strategic operational documents, field manuals, and other similar publications. The appointment of Gender Advisors (GENADs), as well as their standing and position in the force, is an important indicator for institutional support for gender mainstreaming. From our research on gender mainstreaming in NATO militaries, we know that a Gender Advisor is a commander’s best resource for ensuring the integration of gender perspectives into the planning, execution, and evaluation of military operations. Lastly, gender mainstreaming requires attention to training and education. Are soldiers and senior leaders being taught how to do a gender analysis, and are they aware of the national and international legal frameworks?
The last step in ensuring institutionalization of gender equality and WPS initiatives is monitoring and evaluating progress over time. The WPS assessment tool measures to what extent policies and operations are subject to monitoring and evaluation processes. Monitoring and evaluation are key to capturing best practices, establishing realistic benchmarks, identifying gaps in resources and structural challenges, framing strategic planning efforts, and supporting accountability measures. Two key indicators include the systematic collection of sex-disaggregated data and to what extent outside actors, including civil society organizations, are involved in assessment efforts.
The WPS assessment tool, by examining military and police forces from the political to the operational and from the strategic to the tactical levels, measures the progress of military and police organizations comprehensively. Assessments like these work best when they become part of iterative processes that allow for dialogue and learning among countries in the region.
In early August 2020, WIIS held its first Latin America and Caribbean WPS research workshop to assess interest in applying the assessment tool to countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The workshop also allowed us to review the draft assessment tool. Over 70 people from the region joined the workshop and eventually formed 14 volunteer research country teams. These research teams were composed of active and retired members of the security forces (military and police), government officials (foreign affairs, defense ministries, women’s agencies), the legislative branch, academics, and civil society. Each team elected a team coordinator who served as the main point of contact with WIIS.
As a result of the discussions at the workshop, the WIIS team further refined and adjusted the indicators of the assessment tool. (See Figure 1 and Annex 1) The revised assessment tool, containing 51 indicators, was subsequently sent to each of the country teams.
WPS Assessment Tool for Security Forces In Latin America and the Caribbean
Category Indicators I: National Importance and Political Will 11 II: Institutional Policies and Practice A. Strategy, Plans and Policy 14 B. Gender in the Ranks 6 C. Training, Education and Exercises 6 D. Work Environment 8 III: Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation 6
Figure 1: WPS Assessment
Tool for Security Forces in Latin
America and the
By the end of September 2020, we had received data from 14 country teams. With that data, we were able to generate a scorecard for each country. That is, responses to the questions on the assessment tool received a predetermined numerical value following a scoring protocol. These scores were then used to evaluate the relative importance attached to certain issue areas and to establish regional and national averages.
In addition to the quantitative assessment, we also prepared a qualitative assessment for each country. The qualitative assessment allowed us to contextualize the collected information. It also offers an overall assessment of where the country stands with regard to implementation of the gender equality and WPS agenda. Lastly, the qualitative reports contain a set of country specific recommendations detailing how the country and its security sector might move forward. The elaboration of quantitative and qualitative reports included many follow-up interviews with the country teams to ensure that we were accurately interpreting the data they provided. All country teams reviewed final country quantitative and qualitative reports.
Figure 2: Sample Quantitative Assessment Tool
Figure 3: Sample Qualitative Report
Colombia – Summary ReportWPS National Action Plan (NAP) Status: Colombia has not developed a NAP. That said, the November 24, 2016 peace agreement includes many gender provisions. Additionally, in 2018 the Ministry of Defense (MoD) published its own transversal (intersectional) gender implementation plan for uniformed personnel in Colombia. Overall Assessment: Colombia has a robust civil society network dedicated to advancing the WPS agenda, and many are lobbying the Colombian government to adopt a WPS NAP.1 Although the national government has made statements in support of gender equality and the MoD recognizes UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda, no NAP has been developed. National Importance/Political Will: Gender equality is enshrined in the Colombian Constitution (See Articles 40 and 43).2 Colombia also has a Presidential Council for Women’s Equity, which collects and analyzes information related to the situation of women in Colombia. Gender equality, women’s rights, and the empowerment of women are also referred to in the 2018-2022 National Development Plan, an allinclusive policy document that addresses foreign and domestic security policies.3 In Colombia, the army, the air force, the navy, and the national police all fall under the authority of the (MoD). The MoD guidelines and policies apply to all four services. Its 2018 report, Public Policy for a Cross-Gender Approach for the Uniformed Personnel of the Public Force, explicitly refers to UNSCR 1325 and its related resolutions.4 The report, developed as a requirement of the 2016 peace agreement, is referred to as the military’s WPS implementation plan, and it includes the police under the umbrella term “public force.” It calls on the military and the police to make sure that women have equal access and opportunities. It also sets up Gender Observatories at the level of the MoD and General Command, as well as inside each military branch and the police. See Humanas Colombia, 20 Años Exigiendo que el Gobierno Colombiano se conecte con la Paz y la Seguridad de las Mujeres, Pronunciamiento (Bogotá, Colombia: Humanas, July 2020), at https://www.humanas.org.co/alfa/dat_particular/arch_contenidos/i_e_73153_q_PRONUNCIAMIENTO_R1325.pdf; Also from Humanas Colombia, see Observatorio Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (a group actively lobbying for a WPS NAP), Cumplimiento del Estado Colombiano con la Resolución 1325 de 2000: Informe de monitoreo del año 2017 y primer semestre de 2018, (Bogotá, Colombia: Humanas, December 2018), at https://www.humanas.org.co/alfa/dat_particular/ar/ar_9042_q_R1325informe.pdf.. See Corte Constitucional, Constitución Política de Colombia 1991, Actualizada con los Actos Legislativos a 2016, (Bogota: Corte Constitutional), at https://www.corteconstitucional.gov.co/inicio/Constitucion%20politica%20de%20Colombia.pdf See Departamento Nacional de Planeación (DNP), Colombia en la Escena Global: Política Exterior Responsable, Innovadora y Constructiva, (Bogotá: DNP, May 2019) at https://www.dnp.gov.co/DNPN/Plan-Nacional-deDesarrollo/Paginas/Pilares-del-PND/Legalidad/Colombia-en-la-escena-global.aspx; and also from DNP, PlanNacional de Desarrollo 2018-2022 at https://www.dnp.gov.co/DNPN/Paginas/Plan-Nacional-de-Desarrollo.aspx Ministerio de Defensa, Política Pública Sectorial de Transversalizacion del Enfoque de Genero para el Personal Uniformado de la Fuerza Pública 2018-2027, (Bogotá: MinDefensa 2018), at https://www.justiciamilitar.gov.co/irj/go/km/docs/Mindefensa/Documentos/descargas/Prensa/Documentos/politica_ genero.pdf 1
WPS In Latin American And Caribbean Security Forces:
In terms of the overall implementation of gender equality and WPS principles in the security forces, the region (all countries combined) had an average score of 64.6 (on a scale of 1-100). This robust showing is not surprising given the region’s strong adherence to international and regional legal human right instruments, such as CEDAW and the Belem do Para convention. The region has also been a strong supporter of the Beijing Platform of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Particularly important in this regard is the Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda within the Sustainable Development Framework by 2030, adopted in 2016 by countries of the region. In the last five years, countries in the region have also prioritized access to political participation. Most countries in the region have instituted political quotas, which has increased women’s participation in decision-making institutions throughout the government. Lastly, many countries in the region have established women’s or gender equality government agencies; in some cases, these agencies function at the ministerial level.
Despite a relatively strong score overall, many challenges remain. Indeed, this is a region where “patriarchal, discriminatory and violent cultural patterns remain in place, with gender stereotypes persisting in the education system, the media and political and cultural institutions.” The security sector is, of course, not devoid of these stereotypes. As Ellen Haring has noted in a recent publication, “national military organization are quintessentially masculine constructs that rely on notions of men as warrior-protectors and women as the protected. (…) National militaries are set up to optimize men’s participation and rely on patriarchal social structures where women perform traditional family duties centered around caregiving while men go to war.” Nicole Jenne and Fiorella Ulloa Bisshopp, in their study on the effectiveness of Chile’s efforts to promote a gender perspective in the military, emphasize how “resilient” gender stereotypes are in military organizations. For example, Chilean forces deployed in the UN peacekeeping operation in Haiti had a fair number of women. That said, the tasks these women were assigned hewed closely to traditional gender stereotypes: “Instead of performing the full range of peacekeeping tasks, women were often delegated to deal with issues concerning women and children and prevented from joining activities that were deemed to involve security risks.” Gender mainstreaming in security forces requires more than just adding women; it also requires cultural and organizational change.
When we examine the average performance of the region as a whole at the different levels of our assessment tool, the region scores highest at the political commitment level, with a score of 68. The score drops at the implementation level to 64 and at the monitoring and evaluation level to 57.7.
(See Figure 4)
Figure 4: Overall
Figure 5: Overall
58 60 58
Average National Argentina 90
Costa Rica 87 Dominican Republic
Trinidad & Tobago
When we examine the overall performance of individual countries in the region, four countries scored above the average regional score. Four countries scored around the regional average, and six countries fell below the regional average. On the high side, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay significantly outperformed other countries. What is common to these countries is that they have strong scores across all levels. (See Table 1)
Country Political Will Policy & Practice Monitoring Reporting Total Score & Evaluation
Lastly, it may be noted that our results closely align with the scores of these countries in other gender equality indexes, such as the Women, Peace and Security Index published by the Georgetown University Institute on Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the Fighting Inequality in the Time of
Covid-19: The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020, published by Oxfam and Development
41 Trinidad & Tobago 16 45 Costa Rica 3 48 Argentina 2 49 Ecuador 8 55 Chile 1 58 Uruguay 11 68 Paraguay 15 69 Peru 18 70 Panama 22 74 Dominican Republic 23 98 Brazil 13 103 Mexico 14 104 Colombia 10 106 Guatemala 24
Table 2:GIWPS and Oxfam Rankings
In sum, while there is broad regional commitment to the principles and ideas of the WPS agenda, commitment to actual implementation and monitoring and evaluation is considerably less robust. Rhetoric, generally, does not match action.
National Importance/Political Will
National importance and political will measures three main issues: (1) whether gender equality is recognized in a country’s main laws and regulations; (2) whether a country has adopted a WPS NAP; and (3) whether political leaders in their statements provide strong support to the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda.
All countries in the region have enshrined gender equality in their constitutions, and many have also established gender equality and women’s empowerment agencies. That said, an important indicator of political commitment is whether a country has adopted a WPS NAP. (See Table 3)
Countries with NAPs Countries with NAPs Countries without NAPs under development
Argentina Costa Rica Colombia Brazil Ecuador Dominican Republic Chile Mexico Panama Guatemala Trinidad & Tobago Peru Paraguay Uruguay
Table 3: National
Action Plans –
Argentina and Chile—both with top scores overall and at this level—have developed and implemented WPS NAPs. However, the presence or absence of a NAP is not necessary or sufficient to score high. For example, Costa Rica, despite not having a NAP, scored high overall due to the government’s strong political commitment to advancing gender equality across the country and within its institutions.On the other hand, Brazil fell below the regional average. Indeed, in the case of Brazil, a change in national level political leadership in 2019 resulted in diminished political will and commitment to gender equality and the WPS agenda.
The NAPs of the countries in the region have many similarities, but also significant differences. For most countries in the region, the WPS agenda is an external, rather than an internal, agenda. In most cases, the ministries of foreign affairs have lead responsibilities for the implementation of a NAP. The extensive gender equality machinery established under CEDAW, the SDGs, or regional gender equality commitments is often seen as distinct from the WPS agenda. Guatemala is the exception and has adopted a whole-of-government approach. In Guatemala, the Women’s Ministry plays an important role in the development of a new NAP. In Costa Rica, the development of a NAP involves many government agencies, not just in the security sector, but also in the legislature. In addition, its National Institute for Women works at a ministerial level and has taken innovative steps to tackle structural gender inequalities at home, including machismo culture.
Most civil society organizations in the region advocate for whole-of-government efforts as well as a broadening of the agenda beyond traditional armed conflict. They argue that the region grapples with many “gendered consequences of non-conventional armed violence,” and they point to high rates of femicide in the region.32 While several Latin American NAPs have integrated demands for a broader agenda, most remain very externally focused. Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo note that the Paraguayan NAP stands out with ambitious and long-term goals. The Paraguayan NAP defines one of its goals as “the elimination of cultural barriers that hinder the full participation of women in all areas of human society.” The Argentinian NAP includes issues related to human trafficking. The Brazilian NAP includes gender-sensitive initiatives focused on the rights of refugees and refugee seekers in the country. The Chilean NAP expanded the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to include the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence. The Argentinian, Brazilian, and Chilean NAPs all define protection as meaning not just physical security but also access to sexual and reproductive health.
Another positive driver for gender equality and the WPS agenda, including the development of a WPS NAP, is the extent of global—UN—engagements a country has. The participation in peacekeeping operations is particularly important in this regard. (See Table 4) For example, the Brazilian NAP expired at the end of 2018. Gender equality and the WPS agenda were not a priority for the new Brazilian administration that came to power in January 2019. Yet the administration decided to extend the NAP (developed under the previous administration) in March of 2019 for four years. Indeed, Brazil’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations was considered important and, in that context, the continuation of a NAP became significant.Table 4: Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations by Countries from Latin America and the Caribbean-Military and Police Combined – August 2020
However, while UN peacekeeping involvement is positively impacting the military, it does not appear to have a similar impact on the national police. Indeed, the police generally scored lower in most countries than did the military regarding implementation of the WPS agenda.
The engagement of international actors in the Colombia peace agreements has also been an important factor in pushing forward a gender equality and WPS agenda. For example, the 2018 Colombian Ministry of Defense’s report Public Policy for a Cross-Gender Approach for the Uniformed Personnel of the Public Force was developed as a requirement of the 2016 peace agreement. It is considered the military’s WPS implementation plan. It calls on the military and the police to make sure that women have equal access and opportunities. It also sets up Gender Observatories at the level of the Ministry of Defense and General Command, as well as inside each military branch and the police.
Other examples of international engagements and commitments that advance a gender equality and WPS agenda at home include: Uruguay, which co-chairs, with Canada, the United Nations GFP Network and is currently working on a WPS NAP; the Dominican Republic, which during 2020, together with Germany, co-chaired the UN Security Council Informal Expert Group (IEG) on WPS; or Mexico, which, since 2019, co-chairs with France the Generation Equality Forum—a global civil society-centered gathering for gender equality. Its work on the Generation Equality Forum, and the fact that Mexico launched a Feminist Foreign Policy in January 2020 and is currently developing a WPS NAP, are certainly not unrelated. High-level international engagements also help civil society organizations at home to press their governments to progress on the gender equality and WPS agendas.
Policy and Practice
Policy and practice examines how political commitment to gender equality and WPS principles is translated into practical action in the security sector. We distinguish four main areas: (1) policy, planning, and staffing, in particular the appointment of GENADs and GFPs; (2) women’s participation in the security forces (gender in the ranks); (3) policies and programs that support women’s participation in the security forces; and (4) training and education on WPS principles.
Policy, Planning and Staffing
Although national level commitment is critical in advancing the WPS agenda, it is not sufficient to realizing better outcomes in terms of gender mainstreaming. Even in countries that have published NAPs, these NAPs do not always require the participating ministries and departments to develop detailed implementation plans. Without such plans, including bureaucratic procedures and processes that mainstream gender in security institutions, change will be fleeting and easily reversible with changing political leadership.
Our analysis found that countries that developed military implementation plans even before or in the absence of a NAP have generally made significant progress in terms of gender mainstreaming. For example, in 2008 the Argentine Ministry of Defense adopted a WPS Action Plan (long before their 2015 NAP was published). It was developed in response to Argentina’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations and led to many “policy reforms in the field of defense and the armed forces.” Participation in UN peacekeeping operations helped to strengthen pre-deployment training on gender issues. It also required the military to establish GENADs and GFPs.37
Indeed, a major indicator of progress with regard to the integration of gender equality and WPS principles is the appointment of GENADs and GFPs. They are critical in helping to mainstream the principles of the WPS agenda in all aspects of the operations of security forces. The role of a GENAD is to provide guidance and advice to senior level commanders on how to integrate gender perspectives into operations and missions, crisis and conflict analysis, concepts, doctrine, procedures, and education and training. GFPs are similarly trained but work at lower levels in the organization to mainstream the WPS agenda across occupational positions.
Only a few countries in the region are systematically appointing, training and employing GENADs and GFPs. (See Table 5) Argentina has a robust GENAD and GFP program. It also provides gender training through its regional peacekeeping center—trainings that are open to other countries in the region as well. Uruguay, a top regional UN troop contributor, co-hosts, with Canada, the UN GFP network. It has appointed GFPs in both the military and the police, but these GENADs are all double-hatted—that is, they have other responsibilities as well. Neither the military nor the police have appointed full-time GENADS. In some countries, for example in Mexico and Peru, the security institutions have established gender equality institutions that have certain GENAD functions. However, most often these institutions work more in the human resources sphere, rather than the policy and planning spheres. Most often, they do not report directly to the highest command levels.
Gender in the Ranks: Women’s Participation in the Security Forces
All countries in our survey have low women’s participation rates in their military and police forces. (See Table 6) The promotion rates for women are even lower. In general, women have made greater inroads in the police than in the military. In the national police forces, all positions are officially open to women. That said, some of our investigators also reported that the practice does not always align with the formal rules. In some countries, women are not assigned to work “on the streets.” In addition, as women have made inroads within the police, some countries have begun to impose caps, thereby limiting women’s access. Such is the case in Trinidad and Tobago, where no more than 30% of the force is allowed to be women. There is also a waiting list for women who want to join the police.
In four out of 14 countries, women continue to be officially barred from some military occupations. (See Table 7) In addition, even if in theory all positions are open, women often face restrictions in practice, particularly in terms of where they are utilized. Many teams reported that data on military deployments reveal that women are far less likely to be deployed on operational missions.
Country The country The country GENADs are The country has appointed has appointed assigned for has gender Gender Advisors gender focal pecific equality (GENAD). points (GFP). missions. offices/units.
Argentina Yes Yes Yes Brazil Yes Chile Yes Yes Yes Colombia Yes Costa Rica Yes Dominican Republic Yes Yes Ecuador Yes Guatemala Yes Mexico Yes Panama Yes Paraguay Yes Peru Yes Trinidad and Tobago Yes Uruguay Yes Yes Yes
Table 5: Gender Advisors and
Country Military Percent of Senior Police Senior Women Military Police Deployed Women Women
Argentina 17.3% 8% nd nd nd Brazil 7.6% 8% nd 9% nd Chile 10% 10% nd 34% 15% Colombia 6% 1.5% 1% 9% 2% Costa Rica na na na 18.7% di Dominican Republic 20.8% 5.1%-8% 4% 15% 4.7% Ecuador 2.7% di nd 15% di Guatemala nd 8% nd 16% nd Panama na na na 16.2% 14.9% Peru 10% di .5% 18% .4% Paraguay nd 10% nd Nd nd Mexico 12.4% 1-3% 2.5% 10% 19% Trinidad & Tobago 14.3% na nd 29% nd Uruguay 11% 7% 1.7% 25.6% 3% nd=no data (data not provided or data not available) na=not applicable (these countries have no military forces or they do not deploy) di=data incomplete (not enough data to calculate percentage)
Table 6: Women’s
Participation as a Percentage of the
Working on “the streets” and military deployments are generally career enhancing assignments; the restrictions women face in this regard likely contributes to them being less competitive for promotions. These restrictions may explain why few women are represented at the highest levels in the military or police.
Lastly, in terms of long-term policy and planning, we found that only four countries have active recruitment programs or set targets to raise the number of women in the force.
Table 7: Policy and Practice
Country Are all Are there Do they How much Is WPS Is positions recruitment provide paid gender Monitoring open to targets? uniforms & maternity/ training & Evaluation women (military/ equipment paternity provided ? conducted? in the police) adapted to leave military? women? is provided?
Argentina Yes Yes/UNK Yes 90 days/10 days Yes Yes Brazil No No. There are some caps/No. There are local caps No 180 days/5 days Yes No Chile No No/No Yes 126 days/UNK Yes Yes Colombia No No/No Yes 126 days/8 days Yes Yes Costa Rica Yes NA/No Yes 120 days/2 days Yes Yes Dominican Republic Yes Yes/Yes, but there are local caps No 98 days/7 days Yes Yes Ecuador Yes No/No No 80 days/15 days Yes Yes Guatemala Yes No/No No 84 days/UNK Yes No Mexico Yes Yes/No No 90 days/10 days No No Panama Yes NA/ No Yes 98 days/3 days Yes Yes Paraguay No No/No Yes 126 days/UNK Yes Yes Peru Yes No/No No 98 days/UNK No Yes Trinidad and Tobago Yes No, there is a 30% cap Yes 90 days/3 days Yes No Uruguay Yes Yes/Yes No 91 days/10 days Yes Yes NA=not applicable because they have no military forces UNK=unknown-data was not provided during data collection
More generally, it must be noted that data on women’s participation and promotion rates were elusive in many countries. Either the data are not being collected and tracked over time, or the country refuses to publish the data. One country indicated that data on women in the military were considered confidential and not publicly releasable.
Many organizations that track numbers and the composition of armed forces around the world, such as the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, generally do not collect sexdisaggregated data. The only known detailed survey of women in the armed forces and the police dates from 2010 and was carried out by the Argentine think tank RESDAL.
Women-Friendly Policies and Programs
To increase women’s participation in the security forces, it is also important to have policies and programs that make military and police service possible on a personal level. Women tend to leave the military and police at higher rates than men when they have children or encounter a hostile work environment. Therefore, it is imperative that the military and police implement policies that make it possible for women to have a fulfilling career by ensuring that their organizations are inclusive, free of harassment, and accommodate family needs for women who often remain primary caregivers.
In all countries reviewed, both the military and police provide paid maternity leave for women, although the length of time varies greatly—from 80 days to 18 weeks. Many countries also provide a few days of paid paternity leave. Some countries offer varying levels of childcare and family leave, while others offer none.
A healthy and productive work environment also requires that sexual harassment and abuse is not tolerated, that it is strictly monitored, and that offenders are prosecuted. Most countries, particularly those involved in peacekeeping, provide basic human rights training, with a portion of the training directed specifically toward preventing sexual and gender-based violence in the areas of operations. However, the same level of training and attention is not being given to eradicating sexual harassment and abuse within a country’s own ranks. Data from countries that track and address harassment, including the US, Canada and Australia, show that sexual harassment and abuse of women in the ranks is pervasive in military organizations around the world. Therefore, it is critical that military and police organizations address this behavior if they want to keep women in their organizations.
Finally, uniforms, equipment, and facilities must be adapted to accommodate women to optimize women’s performance and retention. Only half of the countries in our survey provide women-specific equipment. (Table 7 above). Requiring women to perform in uniforms and equipment designed by and for men degrades women’s performance, causes injuries, and can result in safety hazards. Furthermore, failing to provide bathrooms and safe billets also drives women out of military and police organizations.
In sum, security forces seeking to increase women’s participation must ensure that there are familyfriendly programs available to support women’s long-term participation, address sexual harassment and abuse within the ranks, and provide uniforms, equipment, and billets for women. While countries in the region score well in terms of maternity and paternity leave policies, much work remains to be accomplished in the other areas.
WPS Training and Education
Applying a gender lens to military and police organizations and operations requires training and education. It is not an intuitive process. The countries that participate in UN peacekeeping operations receive human rights and WPS training during pre-deployment training. Indeed, when countries engage with the UN, particularly in the context of contributing troops to UN peacekeeping operations, they are expected to meet certain UN WPS training requirements. However, for many countries, gender and WPS training ends with UN missions.
Some countries have more systematically integrated gender training into their entry, mid- and senior-level training and education programs. That said, this training is more likely to be found in the military than the police. Police training generally focuses on responding to and preventing domestic, sexual, and genderbased violence.
GENADs and GFPs require specialized training. Such training remains limited. A few countries like Argentina provide WPS training for the military. Costa Rica has mainstreamed gender throughout police training programs. Costa Rica is unique in the region for creating a gender training program that addresses masculinity and machismo culture.
Eleven countries in the region host peacekeeping training centers. Many of these centers have not integrated gender and the WPS agenda in their curriculum in a systematic manner. Helping these centers build up their WPS and gender equality curriculum and provide specialized courses for GENADs would be an obvious first step towards more robust training on WPS and gender equality in the region.
Monitoring, Reporting, and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation are critical for learning and understanding whether progress is being made in implementing the WPS agenda. Monitoring and evaluation also had the lowest average scores. There are three main reasons for the low scores. First, even when countries have developed NAPs, strategies or implementation plans, they are often written without clearly defined and measurable goals and benchmarks. Second, countries generally do not appoint or support independent oversight bodies. Most governments are wary of such bodies and/or the involvement of civil society in the oversight of policies. Third, there is a dearth of sex-disaggregated data being collected or made available for evaluation.
The best monitoring and evaluation programs are independent, transparent, and involve civil society. Some country teams reported that monitoring and evaluation does occur, but the reports and data produced by entities in these countries can only be accessed by requesting them through government transparency programs, or they may not be available at all.
Costa Rica has the most robust monitoring and evaluating systems in the region. They are provided by Costa Rica’s National Institute for Women, which functions as a ministry. This ministry-level Institute has a national council responsible for decision-making at the national level. Furthermore, the Institute provides advice and has oversight over gender mainstreaming in all of the government ministries, including the Ministry of Public Security.
Some countries have robust independent civil society networks that provide some external monitoring and evaluation functions and keep pressure on governments to advance gender equality and the WPS agenda. For example, Colombia has a robust civil society network with 57 distinct organizations that promote the principles of UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda. It also has a Women Peace and Security Observatory, a coalition of civil society organizations that is actively lobbying the government to adopt a WPS NAP. In some countries, the think tank and academic community are important players. For example, in Brazil, the Igarapé Institute has a considerable amount of expertise with regard to the WPS agenda and women in the military. Similarly, in Argentina, RESDAL has undertaken important work in this regard. The analysis by these institutions are important in collecting best practices and advancing the WPS agenda in the region. More generally, the Gender Division of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC or CEPAL in Spanish) plays an important role in gender mainstreaming in the region and collecting data.
Recommendations and Concluding Remarks
To advance the gender equality and WPS agenda in the security forces in the region, the following actions should be taken at the national and regional levels.
All countries in the region have strong normative gender equality frameworks in place. This should provide a solid basis for governments in the region to apply the political will necessary to develop WPS NAPs. The most effective NAPs are whole-of-government efforts that engage all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and cover the entire range of security challenges, including human security and non-military security challenges. More specifically:
All government agencies, including military and police forces, should develop implementation plans with clear goals and benchmarks for measuring progress;
Governments must back up their commitment to NAPs and implementation plans by pledging the necessary resources—personnel and financial—to ensure effective implementation;
Legislatures must become actively involved in the development of WPS NAPs. They should require the executive to present NAP updates at regular intervals and pass budgets with dedicated funding streams for NAPs and implementation plans;
Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should be transparent and include members of civil society. Civil society actors are critical to ensuring transparency and providing expertise in the effective implementation of WPS NAPs.
The increase of the number of women in police and military organizations and the integration of gender perspectives in operations require actions at different levels.
Military and police organizations should develop organization-specific WPS implementation plans. This can be accomplished even in the absence of a nation-wide WPS NAP. Countries, such as Argentina and Colombia, have developed and effectively implemented military implementation plans before NAPs were developed.
In terms of gender balance, the military and police should remove all exclusions and caps that limit women’s full participation in the security forces. They should also develop recruitment programs and establish targets to increase the number of women in the ranks. Military and police should regularly collect and publish sex-disaggregated data on women in the ranks.
In terms of integrating gender perspectives in operations and more generally the development of a gender mainstreaming strategy, the military and police should appoint Gender Advisors (GENADs). GENADs help with the development of organizational gender mainstreaming strategies, make sure that police and military exercises and operations have integrated a gender analysis, and advise on the education and training of soldiers and officers with regard to the WPS agenda. To be effective GENADs should be located at the highest command level. In addition to GENADs, military and police organizations should appoint Gender Focal Points (GFPs) at lower levels of the organization.
GFPs are key to ensuring that implementation takes place at all levels.
International and Regional Actions
There is a great deal of expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean that should be capitalized on for the good of the entire region. Unfortunately, the exchange and learning among security forces in the region is ad-hoc, uneven, and non-systematic. Countries in the region, including the United States government (US DoD and US SOUTHCOM), should create a WPS Center of Excellence for military and police security forces that can support the integration of the WPS agenda throughout the region. The Center—a multilateral governmental venture—should seek to actively engage non-governmental stakeholders. The Center would function as a regional hub to support military and police forces in the region. Areas of responsibilities would include:
Research: encourage national and regional collaborative research efforts and focus on topics supporting the integration of the WPS agenda into security forces, such as measures to eliminate barriers for women’s participation in military and police forces, monitoring and evaluation practices, collecting and publishing sex-disaggregated data on gender balances in the forces.
Education and Training: facilitate the development and delivery of WPS and gender curriculum and training for the military and police.
Convening of stakeholders:exchange best practices.
Technical support: for the development of WPS NAPs and implementation plans, particularly implementation plans for the military and police.
More specifically, the US Government (US DoD and US SOUTHCOM) should embed WPS discussions in all engagements, including in all security and military senior leader engagements. They should also incentivize women’s participation in any externally funded training programs they provide to regional partners by requiring that a certain percentage of military and police women participate in the training.
It has been twenty years since UNSCR 1325 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council.
In the subsequent years, there has been slow but steady progress in realizing the purpose and intent of 1325. Many nations around the world, and six in Latin America and the Caribbean, have adopted WPS National Action Plans.
The concepts and terms gender balance, gender perspective and gender mainstreaming are better understood and becoming embedded within the operational activities of security institutions. Nations that are further along with gender mainstreaming have begun to realize the value of adopting a gender perspective to achieve better security outcomes. That said, normative thinking and behavior on complex social issues is slow to change, but change does happen. It requires concerted, continuous and systematic efforts by all.
Lastly, the success of gender mainstreaming efforts is closely related to the involvement of civil society. Global studies have shown that the most successful WPS NAPs are those that have the active involvement of civil society organization at every step of the way. This finding is not surprising, since gender mainstreaming is ultimately about debunking regressive gender stereotypes that exist within our societies.
1. Gender Equality, WPS and NAPs
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Hamilton, Caitlin et al, Twenty Years of Women, Peace and Security National Action Pland: Analysis and Lessons Learned (Sydney: University of Sydney, March 2020).
Humanas Colombia, 20 Años Exigiendo que el Gobierno Colombiano se conecte con la Paz y la Seguridad de las Mujeres, (Bogotá, Colombia: Humanas, July 2020).
Jacevic, Mirsad Niki, “WPS, States and the National Action Plans,” in Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 273 – 292.
Kurtenbach, Sabine, “The Limits of Peace in Latin America,” Peacebuilding, Vol. 7, No. 3, (2019), pp. 283 – 296.
Marchetti, Ximena Gauche, “Planes de Acción Nacional sobre Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad: Experiencias Comparadas y Proyecciones para el Caso Chileno,” Revista de Derecho, Vol. 30 No. 2 (2017), pp. 203 – 223.
Marín Carvajal, Isabela and Eduardo Álvarez-Vanegas, “Securing Participation and Protection in Peace Agreements: The Case of Colombia”, in Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 461 – 474.
Meyer Mcaleese, Mary K., “WPS and the Organization of American States,” in Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 413 – 427.
Swaine, Aisling, “Globalising Women, Peace and Security: Trends in National Action,” in Rethinking National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security, edited by Sahla Aroussi (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2017), pp. 7 – 27.
Urrutia Arestizábal, Pamela; Ana Villelas Ariño y María Villegas Ariño, Seguridad Feminista: Aportaciones Conceptuales y Desarrollo Actual, (Barcelona: Institut Catalá Internacional per la Pau, 2020).
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas, Por una Vida Plena con Libertad, Justicia y Paz: Consulta Latinoamericana para el Estudio Mundial sobre la Implementación de la Resolución 1325, (Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala; UNAMG, May 2015).
Velasco Ugalde, Ana Laura, UNSCR1325 and the WPS Agenda: A Feminist Response to Authoritarianism, WIIS Policy Brief (June 2020).
Women In International Security, 1325 and Beyond: Winning Essays, (Washington, DC: WIIS, 2020)
Donadio, Marcela and Cecilia Mazzota, La Mujer en las instituciones armadas y policiales: Resolución 1325 y Operaciones de Paz en América Latina, (Buenos Aires: RESDAL, 2009).
Donadio, Marcela et al, Women in the Armed Forces and Police Forces: Resolution 1325 and Peace Operations in Latin America (Buenos Aires: RESDAL, 2010).
Egnell, Robert, et al, Gender, Military Effectiveness and Organizational Change: The Swedish Model (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014).
Esparza, Diego; Santiago Arca Henon & Hope Dewell Gentry, “Peacekeeping and civil–military relations in Uruguay,” Defense & Security Analysis, Vol. 36 No. 3 (2020), pp. 314-334.
Ghittoni, Marta, Lea Lehouck and Callum Watson, Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations:
Baseline Study ( Geneva: DECAF, July 2018).
Giannini, Renata; Maiara Folly and Mariana Lima, Situações Extraordinárias: a inclusão de mulheres na linha de frente das forças armadas, Igarapé Institute Strategic Article (Rio de Janeiro: Igarape Institute, August 2017).
Hardt, Heidi and Stefanie von Hlatky, “NATO’s About-Face: Adaptation to Gender mainstreaming in an Alliance Setting,” Journal of Global Security Studies, Vol. 5, No.1 (2020), pp. 136-159.
Haring, Ellen, “Gender and Military Organizations” in Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, eds., The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 90 – 112.
Hurley, Matthew, “Watermelons and Weddings: Making Women, Peace and Security ‘Relevant: at NATO Through (Re)Telling Stories of Success,” Global Society, Vol. 32, No. 4 (2018), pp. 436-456.
Jenne, Nicole, “Civilianizing the armed forces? Peacekeeping, a traditional mission for the military,” Defence Studies, Vol. 20 No. 2 (2020), pp. 105 – 122.
Jenne, Nicole and Fiorella Ulloa Bisshopp, “Female Peacekeepers: UNSC Resolution 1325 and the Persistence of Gender Stereotypes in the Chilean Armed Forces,” International Peacekeeping (October 14, 2020).
Karim, Sabrina and Kyle Beardsley, Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace and Security in PostConflict States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Perera, Fabiana Sofia; and Lieutenant Colonel Duilia Mora Turner, eds., Twenty Years, Twenty Stories: Women, Peace and Security in the Western Hemisphere (Washington, DC: William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, 2020).
Masson, Laura, Militares Argentinas: Evaluación de Políticas de Género en el Ámbito de la Defensa, (Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires: Universidad de la Defensa Nacional, 2020)
Newby, Vanessa F and Clotilde Sebag, “Gender Sidestreaming? Analyzing Gender Mainstreaming in National Militaries and International Peacekeeping,” European Journal of International Security (November, 2020), pp. 1-23.
Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM), A Military Guide to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, (Stockholm, Sweden; NCGM, April 2020)
Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, Whose Security? Practical Examples of Gender Perspectives in Military Operations (Stockholm: Nordic Centre for Military Operations, 2015).
Razakamaharavo, Velomahaniha T., Luise Ryan and Leah Sherwood, Improving Gender Training in UN Peacekeeping Operations, WIIS Policy Brief (Washington, DC: WIIS, February 2018).
Wilén, Nina, “Female Peacekeepers’ Added Burden,” International Affairs, Vol. 96 No. 6, (November 2020), pp. 1585 – 1602.
Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat is President of Women In International Security (WIIS) since February 2013. She has held senior positions at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
North America; the US Institute of Peace; Center for Transatlantic Relations, Paul H. Nitze School of
Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC; and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva. Dr. de Jonge Oudraat has published extensively on a wide array of international security issues. She is co-editor with Dr. Michael E. Brown of The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, July 2020). De Jonge Oudraat received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Paris II (Panthéon).
Dr. Ellen Haring is a Senior Fellow at Women In International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative. She is the former CEO of the Service Women’s Action Network. Haring’s research and work focuses on women and gender in the military. She is a West Point graduate and a retired US Army colonel. She holds a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, and she has taught at the US Army Command and General Staff College, the US Army War College and Georgetown University. Haring has published numerous articles and papers on a wide array of military and security-related topics. She guest lectures, has testified before Congress as a subject matter expert, and has been a guest speaker on foreign and domestic news shows.
Dr. Diorella IslasLimiñana is a Fellow at Women In International Security and an independent security consultant on intelligence, transnational criminal organizations and national security policies. She is Adjunct Faculty member in the Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She has worked as a consultant for the Royal United Service Institute in London, and as a security analyst at the Center for Information and National Security in Mexico City. She holds a PhD in Politics, Languages and International Studies from the University of Bath and a MA and a BA from Tec de
Monterrey, Mexico City Campus. She has taught at the Bader International Study Center of Queens University and delivered guest lectures at different universities and organizations around the world.
Ana Velasco is a Fellow at Women In International Security and a Researcher at Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, a leading Mexican NGO focused on issues of security and justice. Previously, she worked as an international news reporter in Mexico, and she has held a diplomatic position for the Mexican Secretariat of Economy in Germany. Velasco is the winner of the “1325 and Beyond” international essay competition organized by WIIS and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. She recently finished a MA in Gender, Violence and Conflict at the University of Sussex with Distinction, and she is about to start her PhD in International Relations at the same institution.
Aguirre, Johanna (Panama)
Almeida, Katherine (Dominican Republic)
Aquino, Massiel (Dominican Republic)
Arboleda, Naomi (Dominican Republic)
Argueta, Ann Marie (Guatemala)
Arias, Jeannette (Costa Rica)
Baez Racalde, Maria Gloria (Paraguay)
Baires, Emily (Guatemala)
Balcazar, Mauel (Mexico)
Barriga Abarca, Lourdes Aurelia (Peru)
Barrios, Silvana (Argentina)
Beltran Del Portillo, Maria Fernanda (Colombia)
Broce, Rosa (Panama)
Canto, Maria Belen (Argentina)
Capellan, Belgica (Dominican Republic)
Cardenas Hidalgo, Maria Andrea (Ecuador)
Cerdas, Loreley (Costa Rica)
Chaves, Andrea (Argentina)
Colon, Victor (USA)
Cordon, Mireya (Colombia)
Dantas, Stela (Brazil)
Davila Calderon, Martha Jenneth (Colombia)
De Anda Martinez, Erika (USA)
Depaz, Leidy (Peru)
Donadio, Marela (Argentina)
Drumond, Paula (Brazil)
Espaillat, José Rafael (Dominican Republic)
Ferreira Costa, Ivana Mara (Brazil)
Ferreto, Yorleny (Costa Rica)
Fischer, Andrea (Chile)
Flores, Nancy (Guatemala)
Fundora, Cristobal (Panama)
Galan Paniagua, Sonia Maria (Guatemala)
Giannini, Renata (Brazil)
Gil Rosado, Maria Teresa (Dominican Republic)
Gonzalez, Pedro (Chile)
Henandez, Francia (Dominican Republic)
Hernandez, Brianna (USA)
Hormazábal, Javiera (Chile)
Ignacio, Mercedes (Dominican Republic)
Islas, Diorella (México)
Jarpa, Carolina (Chile)
Jeremias da Silva, Jessika Kelly (Brazil) Jiménez Morales, Karen (Costa Rica)
Jorge, Ramon (Dominican Republic) Justynski,
Lancaster-Ellis, Karen (USA)
Layman, Matthew (USA)
Lopez Portillo, Ernesto (Mexico)
Made, Dominga (Dominican Republic) Manes,
Amb. Jean (USA)
Marcial, Cynthia (Argentina)
Marulanda Castano, Diana Marcela (Brazil)
McCann, Elizabeth (USA)
Méndez, Elvira (Panama)
Mendoza Cortes, Paloma (Mexico)
Miranda Vargas, Inaraquel (USA)
Montenegro, Nadia (Panama)
Ortiz, Nereyda (USA)
Otto, Fomina (Chile)
Pacheco, Gloria (Costa Rica)
Pagtakhan, Elisabet (USA)
Paredes Escobar, Byron Gabriel (Ecuador)
Parra, Veronica (Chile)
Pena, Elisama (Dominican Republic)
Perera, Fabiana (USA)
Placencia Almonte, Albania (Dominican Republic)
Porras, Silvia (Costa Rica)
Ramirez Herrera, Carolina (Dominican Republic)
Rebelo, Tamya (Brazil)
Rey Pinto, Eva María (Colombia)
Reynoso Barrera, Jonas (Dominican Republic)
Rivas, Reina Margarita (Colombia)
Rodriguez-Acosta, Cristina (USA)
Rogers, Rhea (Belize)
Rojas, Valeska (Chile)
Rojas Ballestero, Fiorella Andrea (Costa Rica)
Sahid Garnica, German (Colombia)
Salguero, Miguel (Argentina)
Sanabria, Diana (Ecuador)
Sancho, Carolina (Chile)
Sanjines, Karen (Jamaica)
Santolalla, Guillermo (USA)
Santos, Maria Dolores (Ecuador)
Seron, Christian (Chile)
Silva Freire, Maria Eduarda Laryssa (Brazil)
Sprinkle, Abby (USA)
Suarez, Hilda (Argentina)
Summers, Becky (USA)
Talamoni, Ana Florencia (Argentina)
Turner, Duilia (USA)
Typrowicz, Jennifer (USA)
Russ, Sarah (USA)
Velasco-Ugalde, Ana (Mexico)
Villalba, Laura (USA)
Volia, Zoila (Costa Rica) Weiss, Cornelia (USA)
Williams, Dianna (USA)
* Project participants includes those who participated in at least one of our workshops and/or our country research teams.
 In this project we are examining military forces and national police forces (police that operate at the national level not at the local or municipal level).
 The methodology was developed by Women In International Security (WIIS) in the context of a NATO sponsored project that sought to assess how well NATO member and partner states had integrated the principles of gender equality and the WPS agenda in their military institutions and operations. See Chantal de Jonge Oudraat et al., Gender Mainstreaming: Indicators for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and its Related Resolutions- the 1325 Scorecard: Preliminary Findings (Brussels: NATO, 2015).
 See Executive Order, Instituting a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (Washington, DC: The White House, December 19, 2011). This Plan was subsequently updated in June 2016.
 See Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, Public Law 115-68-October 6, 2017 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2017).
 See US Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (Washington, DC: White House, 2019).
 See US DOD, Women, Peace, and Security: Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan (Washington, DC: US DoD, June 2020), p.7.
 See Chantal de Jonge Oudraat et al., Gender Mainstreaming: Indicators for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and its Related Resolutions – The 1325 Scorecard: Preliminary Findings (Brussels: NATO, 2015). For a description of the NATO project and our country scorecard reports, see: https://www.wiisglobal.org/programs/unscr-1325-nato/.
 The term “police” in this tool does not include local or municipal police. The police agencies that are included are those police agencies that also send police officers to UN peacekeeping operations.
 This is a statement that has also been recognized and subscribed to by the US Department of Defense. See US DOD, Women, Peace and Security (2020), p.10.
 In the Southern Hemisphere the legal framework for human rights even predates the UDHR. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, (adopted in May 1948 in Bogota, Columbia) was the first human rights instrument that recognized equal rights for all people. It was followed in 1969 by the American Convention on Human Rights. The 1969 American Convention on Human Rights requires states to adopt domestic legislation to give effect to these rights.
 They were particularly important in integrating Human Rights in the UN Charter and the UDHR.
 For more see Marcela Donadio et al., Women in The Armed and Police Forces: Resolution 1325 and Peace Operations in Latin America (Buenos Aires: RESDAL, 2010). More generally see also Ellen Haring, “Gender and Military Organizations” in Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, eds., The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 90 – 112.
 In October 2015, the UN Security Council, in Resolution 2242, called for the doubling of the number of female peacekeepers (military and police) within five years. In August 2020, the UN Security Council also adopted Resolution 2538 which recognized “the indispensable role of women in increasing the overall performance and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations.” It also stressed the need to increase the participation of uniformed women in peacekeeping operations.
 In 2013, CEDAW adopted General Recommendation 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict, and post-conflict situations. This strengthened the links between the WPS agenda and CEDAW.
 NATO/EAPC Women, Peace and Security Policy and Action Plan, 2018. NATO committed to the three “I”s: Integration: making sure that gender equality is considered as an integral part of NATO policies, programs, and projects guided by effective gender mainstreaming practices; Inclusiveness: promoting an increased representation of women across NATO and in national forces to enhance operational effectiveness and success; and Integrity: enhancing accountability with the intent to increase awareness and implementation of the WPS agenda in accordance with international frameworks.”
 See Mary K. Meyer Mcaleese, “WPS and the Organization of American States,” in Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 413 – 427.
 See, for example, Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo, “Global Pathways or Local Spins? National Action Plans in South America,” International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 22, No. 4 (2020), pp. 462 – 484; See also Donadio, Women in the Armed and Police Forces (2010). In 2019 Brazilian Navy Lieutenant Commander Marcia Braga received the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year award for her work in the UN operation in the Central African Republic.
 See Drumond and Rebelo, Global Pathways or Local Spins?
 See for example, Fabiana Sofia Perera and Lieutenant Colonel Duilia Mora Turner, eds., Twenty Years, Twenty Stories: Women, Peace and Security in the Western Hemisphere (Washington, DC: William J. Perry Center for Hemsipheric Defense Studies, 2020). See also Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, Whose Security? Practical Examples of Gender Perspectives in Military Operations (Stockholm: Nordic Centre for Military Operations, 2015).
 See Renata Avelar Giannini et al., A agenda sobre mulheres, paz e segurança no contexto latino-americano: desafios e oportunidades,Hemisphere (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: Instituto Igarapé, March 2018). 12 See, for example, studies by the McKinsey Institute and the World Economic Forum.
 For many practical examples see Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, Whose Security? Practical Examples of Gender Perspectives in Military Operations (Stockholm: Nordic Centre for Military Operations, 2015).
 The UN’s 2028 target for women in military contingents is 15% and 25% for military observers and staff officers. The 2028 target for women serving in formed police units is 20% and 30% for individual police officers. In 2020, women constitute 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9 % of formed police units in UN peacekeeping missions. See Peackeeping.un.org.
 Cited in Chantal de Jonge Oudraat et al., Gender Mainstreaming: Indicators for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and its Related Resolutions – The 1325 Scorecard: Preliminary Findings (Brussels: NATO, 2015), p. 7.
 This definition is based on the UN ECOSOC definition of 1997. See also Helene Lackenbauer and Richard Langlais, eds., Review of the Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of NATO-led Operations and Missions (Stockholm: Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOA), 2013), p. 55.
 See UN Women website unwomen.org “Gender Mainstreaming.”
 For example, in the United States and Brazil, the WPS agenda and gender equality efforts were not supported by the Donald J. Trump and Jair Bolsonaro administrations. Yet in both cases, the WPS agenda had gained some champions within the foreign affairs and defense establishments. These establishments had also put in place certain processes to integrate gender perspectives. Together, the champions and the institutional processes were able to safeguard some of the efforts that had been started before the advent of the new administrations. In addition, in the United States the US Congress had adopted the WPS Act in 2017, which had broad bi-partisan support. It was a big factor in safeguarding some of the WPS capacities that had been developed earlier. The Act also allowed the expansion of WPS activities in the military with regard to training and the appointment of GENADs in the Combatant Commands. The US Congress even set aside some money for the latter.
 See de Jonge Oudraat et al, Gender Mainstreaming (2015), p. 10-11.
 See scorecard template in Annex 2 and the scoring protocol in Annex 3.
 See country scorecards and narrative reports at the WIIS website (provide link here).
 See ECLAC, Regional Report on the Review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in Latin America and Caribbean countries, 25 years on, LC/CRM.14.4 (Santiago: United Nations, 2019).
 See IDEA, Gender Quotas Database (Stockholm: IDEA @idea.int).
 See ECLAC, Regional Report on the Review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in Latin America and Caribbean countries, 25 years on, LC/CRM.14.4 (Santiago: United Nations, 2019), p. 17.
 See Ellen Haring, “Gender and Military Organizations” in Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Michael E. Brown, The Gender and Security Agenda: Strategies for the 21st Century (London: Routledge, 2020), p. 90.
 Nicole Jenne and Fiorella Ulloa Bisshopp, “Female Peacekeepers: UNSC Resolution 1325 and the Persistence of Gender Stereotypes in the Chilean Armed Forces,” International Peacekeeping, (October 14, 2020), p. 21.
 For strategies to increase women’s participation in national military organizations, see Haring, “Gender and Military Organizations.”
 See Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute Oslo, The WPS Index 2020 (Washington, DC: GIWPS, 2020); Oxfam and Development Finance International, Fighting Inequality in the Time of Covid-19:
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020 (Oxford: Oxfam, 2020).
 Costa Rica is unique in the region as one of only a few countries with no military. It was assessed based on the security provided by the national police.
 See Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo, “Global Pathways or Local Spins? National Action Plans in South America,” International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 22, No. 4 (2020), pp. 462 – 484.
 For more general analysis of NAPs globally see Caitlin Hamilton, Nyibeny Naam and Laura J. Shepherd, Twenty Years of Women, Peace and Security National Action Plans: Analysis and Lessons Learned (Sydney: Sydney University, March 2020). 32 Drumond and Rebelo, “Global Pathways or Local Spins?” p. 1. See also Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo, 1325 and Beyond:
Moving Forward the WPS Agenda in Latin America, WIIS Policy Brief (July 2020); and
Ana Laura Velasco Ugalde, UNSCR1325 and the WPS Agenda: A Feminist Response to Authoritarianism, WIIS Policy Brief (June 2020), p. 1. Velasco notes the Covid-19 crisis and the call for staying at home has exposed the violence at home.
 Cited in Drumond and Rebelo, Global Pathways or Local Spins? p. 12. See also Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo, 1325 and Beyond: Moving Forward the WPS Agenda in Latin America, WIIS Policy Brief (July 2020).
 For more on Brazil’s NAP see Renata Avelar Giannini and Perola Abrue Pereira, Building Brazil’s National Action Plan: Lessons
Learned and Opportunities (London: LSE, March 3, 2020 – blog); Paula Drumond and Tamya Rebelo, Implementing the “Women,
Peace and Security” Agenda in Brazil: An Assessment of the National Action Plan, Strategic Paper 31 (Rio de Janeiro: Igarape Institute, August 2019). See also https://igarape.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-07-31_AE-31_Women-Peace-andSecurity-National-Action-Plan.pdf.
 See UN Secretary General, Departmental Focal Points for Women in the Secretariat, ST/SGB?2008/12 (New York: United Nations, August 1, 2008). See also UN Women, Gender Focal Points and Focal Points for Women @ unwomen.org; and United Nations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Policy: Gender Responsive United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (New York: United Nations, February 1, 2018).
 RESDAL obtained much of its data through freedom of information mechanisms. See Marcela Donadio et al., Women in the
Armed Forces and Police in Latin America: Agender Approach to Peace Operations (Buenos Aires: RESDAL, 2010). See Renata Avilar Giannini, Maiara Folly and Mariana Fonseca Lima, Situacoes extraordinarias a entrada de mulheres na linha de frente das Forcas Armadas brasileiras (Rio de Janieri: Igarapé Institute: 2017). We do not know to what extent the US government is collecting data on the number of women in military forces around the world and how it applies that data to its International Military Training and Education (IMET) programs.
 Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. See Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Enhancing Peacekeeping Training Through Cooperation: Lessons from Latin America, Policy Brief (Rio de Janeiro: Igarape Institute, June 2018).
In every segment of society — from family, to politics, to corporations, to the media — women are taking on visible and influential roles. Many industries and organizations are finally beginning to pay attention to women’s representation and realizing the great potential and need for female talent. Although advocates have argued for years that women have a positive effect on human rights promotion, poverty alleviation, democracy and governance, conflict resolution and peace-building, all too often support for women’s participation slipped to the sidelines. But in the face of immense national and global challenges, it has become clear that women are a tremendous and under-tapped asset for leadership. There seems to be a greater interest than ever before in supporting women’s participation in a variety of fields.
The problem is that the majority of employers know very little about how women are actually faring in their organizations, in terms of the number in seniorlevel positions and in women’s work satisfaction, retention, and promotions. The lack of knowledge about women’s participation and perspectives, combined with the problem of few resources devoted to this issue, have made it difficult to implement meaningful initiatives to promote women’s leadership.
Recently, studies have focused on women’s leadership in some sectors, including academia, the media, and corporations. These studies have highlighted gaps in representation and proposed recommendations for improving women’s opportunities. But a missing component of research seems to be on women’s presence in a particular area of utmost importance — the national security and foreign policy arena.
This is the first study to examine women in leadership within the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government in international security.
The number of women in leadership roles in national security and foreign policy has certainly improved in the past decade. At the highest levels of government, the U.S. has had three female U.S. Secretaries of State, and women serving at
the helm of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Agency of International Development, and in Under Secretary policy positions. Women are also increasingly noticeable in the ranks of Assistant Secretaries, Assistant Administrators, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and U.S. ambassadors overseas. As one female former Under Secretary of State observed, “Women are breaking new ground every day in every foreign policy institution.”1
What is the effect of more women in leadership positions in government — on the institution, on younger women, on decision-making? And why do women continue to remain under-represented in many senior-level positions? Are there hidden blockages to women’s advancement? How can women better prepare for and be encouraged to take on these roles in the future? These are some of the questions WIIS set out to explore in interviews with more than 90 mid- and senior-level women from key U.S. Government agencies (including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) for this project.
Women who participated in this study expressed the view that we are at a critical juncture — a time of enormous possibilities if leaders and institutions take steps to build the pipeline of female talent in government. These women were hopeful about recent strides in women’s leadership, but at the same time voiced frustration with the slow pace of change and the unresponsiveness to women’s concerns in these working environments. Although they reflected varying perspectives and life experiences, women in this study agreed that:
➤ The culture for women in government agencies has changed for the better.
➤ More women have moved into leadership roles in government, yet they remain under-represented, and this needs to change.
➤ Women are often not getting the support they need (in terms of training, mentorship, work-life balance) to take on and succeed in leadership positions.
➤ Committed and creative leadership at the top can make a real difference in women’s advancement opportunities and work satisfaction.
the Unsteady climb to 50-50
The opportunities for women in international security government positions have improved enormously in recent decades. Women were often discouraged from applying or entering into government service during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and for the cohort of women who did enter the policy arena in the 1960s and 1970s, overt gender-based discrimination was a common experience within government agencies. The atmosphere is much different today: the majority of women who were interviewed for this study said that they are considered and treated equally to their male counterparts in government environments, and that young women have a positive view of their career opportunities.
While the percentage of women in the federal workforce increased steadily from 41.3 percent in 1986 to 44.4 percent in 1998 (and has stayed relatively the same since)2, the percentage of women in particular areas of international security policy positions, especially at more senior-levels, has remained below gender parity. Women still account for less than 30 percent of the Senior Executive Service (SES) throughout government agencies and approximately 13 percent in the Senior Intelligence Service.3 In key agencies responsible for national security and foreign policy (i.e. State Department, USAID, Department of Defense), the percentage of women in senior positions continues to hover between 21 and 29 percent.
While women interviewed for this study were optimistic about women’s growing participation in this sector, they also remained acutely aware of their minority status in many international security working environments. As a result, women experienced pressure to establish their credibility, especially in substantive policy areas that remain male-dominated, such as defense, intelligence, and law enforcement.
Practicing Leadership: role Models and Bad Examples
Leadership was repeatedly cited as one of the most important, yet least cultivated skills for women’s advancement in government. This study’s respondents derived many of their lessons about good management from negative experiences with other managers. Although women did not attribute specific leadership qualities to gender, the vast majority described their own approaches as emphasizing consensus, collaboration, inclusiveness, and team-building, and they admired these qualities in other leaders. Building strong relationships — with staff, coworkers, colleagues, and superiors — was viewed as a fundamental element of leadership. While many respondents were hesitant to attribute specific qualities to gender, they felt that women excelled in this area. Women also often looked to male role models for good leadership strategies, in many cases because there have simply been more men in leadership positions.
Women were very aware of perceptions of female leaders as either too “feminine” or “masculine.” Women frequently expressed disapproval of other women who were “overly-aggressive” in their approaches to colleagues and staff. At the same time, women pointed to a double standard with male colleagues in this respect. Furthermore, women recognized that a lack of decisiveness could reduce their credibility and authority: they were cognizant of the need to make difficult decisions in a timely manner when serving in leadership positions, and that failure to do so is considered a major weakness.
Learning Leadership: Mentoring and training
Women in this study experienced a direct correlation between mentorship and professional advancement. The most effective mentoring relationships went beyond general advice and were based on strong professional relationships, reputation, and trust — mentors who also advocated for their mentees. Promotions into higher-level positions in government are typically facilitated by service in challenging program management positions. As a result, women relied on key personal connections and direct recommendations of mentors or sponsors to gain visibility, attain management, and demonstrate their readiness for future promotion.
Women did not seem to have a preference for female mentoring, and successful women pointed to male mentors who played critical roles in helping them achieve professional advancement. At the same time, women who have had long careers in this field recognized the importance of mentoring younger women to help them through similar challenges as they had faced. However, some women pointed to experiences in which other women were perceived as unsupportive.
Despite the positive impact that mentoring has on women’s success, many government agencies either do not have formal mentoring programs in place, or do not devote enough resources toward ensuring that existing programs are effective.
Women emphasized the importance of leadership training, but they observed that agencies do not address the need and demand for training. Professional development and leadership training programs remain unevenly dispersed across federal agencies, and many women did not feel that the government places a high value on funding training initiatives or encouraging employees to take time away from the office to participate in them.
the 24/7 cycle and Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance — what it means, whether it is possible, and how to do it — remains a subject of great concern and varied perspectives among women in international security positions in the government. Those who participated in this study believed that women face unique challenges in this area, and that work-life balance involves trade-offs between professional and personal success. Women varied considerably in their opinions about whether work-life balance could be achieved in the policy arena, especially among the more senior-level respondents. Some expressed skepticism about whether it was possible to fulfill the responsibilities of high-level positions while carving out time for other priorities outside of the office; others believed that it was possible. However, very few believed that they had achieved their definition of work-life balance in their own lives.
While work-life balance options have improved as more federal employees (women and men) have sought improved flexible arrangements or other work-life benefits, institutional weaknesses continue to linger. Many pointed to outdated maternity and paternity leave policies. Key work-life balance arrangements are not yet institutionalized uniformly across the government. Information about how to set up these arrangements is not always readily available and in the policy arena, there are still very few part-time positions available. Often, women have had to persuade their managers to support flexible schedules on an ad hoc basis, meaning that these negotiated positions have not necessarily been designated or protected as part-time or job share. Additionally, individuals who negotiate flexible schedules say that their job responsibilities often remain unchanged. As a result, they are in reality working much more than the formal part-time status.
Furthermore, the work cultures in many government policy offices do not always empower women to utilize benefits. The realities of the job combined with unwritten expectations of policy positions typically pressure individuals to spend lengthy hours in the office. But the attitudes and examples of leaders make a significant difference in setting expectations and improving acceptance about work-life balance. Women in this study were influenced by how senior-level women handled this issue, and many pointed out that women who have recently taken on high-level policy positions in the government agencies are creating cultural changes to better support work-life balance.
Women continue to perceive challenges in the areas of establishing and maintaining credibility, obtaining needed mentoring support and leadership training, and in juggling work-life balance priorities. These are not just “women’s issues,” and the U.S. Government, as well as other employers can no longer afford to marginalize these concerns. In order for the U.S. Government to retain a competitive advantage as an employer in the future, and ensure that the best talent is focusing on national and international security, much more attention and effort will need to be directed to supporting the entry, retention, and advancement opportunities of women. This study is intended to provide an important step in that process.
Women’s Representation and Credibility ➤ Women did not perceive gender-based discrimination as a significant barrier to their career advancement, as it had been for previous generations . While they regarded government institutions as intolerant of discrimination, women remained acutely aware of their minority status in many international security environments . ➤ The majority of women pointed to a need to establish credibility quickly, especially in the defense, intelligence, and law enforcement areas, and acknowledged that this was sometimes difficult in these communities . Women who had military backgrounds credited this experience with helping them “talk the talk” within the defense establishment . ➤ “Ageism” was a commonly cited challenge among mid- to senior-level women . Some interviewees saw “being young and female” as a double set of barriers to overcome in gaining respect and acknowledgement of their rank or position . Other women saw this as a positive opportunity to overcome biases and change viewpoints . ➤ Women working in the U .S . Department of Defense (DOD) expressed a strong perception of the DOD as a meritocracy . ➤ Women in the U .S . Agency for International Development (USAID) were the most positive about the atmosphere and possibilities for women . USAID was described as a less hierarchical culture than the other departments, with a real focus on diversity and gender balance . ➤ Within the U .S . Department of Homeland Security (DHS), some mid-level women perceived that men were being promoted at a greater rate than women . However, women also pointed to a shifting institutional culture, perceiving that more women in leadership positions would create a more positive environment for women . Practicing Leadership ➤ Women in DOD highlighted the military as an institution that grooms leaders effectively . Women who had previously served in the military before moving into civilian government positions cited the military training and experience as a major benefit in their own ability to lead others . ➤ CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
➤ The majority of women interviewed did not correlate specific leadership styles with women . However, the vast majority described their own leadership qualities as involving consensus, collaboration, inclusiveness, and team-based approaches . ➤ Many women emphasized the ability to build strong relationships — with staff, coworkers, colleagues, and superiors — as a fundamental element of leadership where women appear to excel . ➤ Women described numerous examples of both men and women who were micromanaging, disrespectful, and in some cases, abusive toward those who worked for them . In contrast, women distinguished those who sought out talent; recognized, promoted, and rewarded quality work; listened to staff and communicated decisions and how they were reached; and acted as mentors, as model leaders . ➤ Regardless of age, women who were interviewed frequently said that they look to male role models more often than women for good leadership strategies . ➤ Women expressed a struggle in balancing “feminine” and “masculine” qualities . Although some women admired strong female leaders as role models, women disapproved of those who were “overly-aggressive” in their approaches to colleagues and staff . At the same time, women felt that the negativity associated with aggressive approaches by women continues to reflect a double standard . ➤ Women expressed a constant desire to balance inclusiveness and consensus building with decisiveness . When women failed to make difficult decisions, or were uncomfortable justifying or standing by their decisions, it was viewed widely as a weakness in leadership . ➤ Women perceived that demonstrating emotions in the workplace reflected badly on credibility and professionalism . ➤ Frequently, interviewees brought up the desire to be liked as a major weakness of women . Leadership Training ➤ Women emphasized the importance of training opportunities . Regardless of agency, however, women felt that the civilian sector fell significantly short of the need and demand for leadership training . ➤ Professional development and leadership training resources remain unevenly dispersed across federal agencies, and women found it difficult to gain access and entry to these opportunities . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
CONTINUED FROM PREvIOUS PAGE ➤ Many women believed that training is not seen as a natural part of their career experience, nor highly valued by their government employers . The ability to participate in these programs has largely been dependent on the support of their supervisors and the specific office culture . ➤ The majority of the women emphasized that training for civilians should occur at an earlier stage in the career progression, well before promotions into managerial positions . Mentoring/Sponsorship ➤ Every woman who was interviewed for this study, regardless of agency or level, emphasized the critical importance of mentoring for career success in the federal sector . ➤ In almost all cases, after women had entered government agencies, they relied on key personal connections and direct recommendations of mentors or sponsors to attain subsequent positions . ➤ Women repeatedly highlighted the role of mentors in exposing them to new responsibilities, directions, and opportunities . The most frequently mentioned assistance that mentors offered women in this sector was an understanding of bureaucratic structure, processes, and players . ➤ Women did not seem to have a preference for female mentoring . In almost all cases, interviewees said that it did not matter whether mentors are male or female . ➤ Women in mid- and senior-level positions said that they mentor both men and women, and although the majority of interviewees reported that they do not focus their mentoring on women exclusively, many have made a special effort to support other women . ➤ Interviewees observed that women are better than they were in the past at mentoring, and that women are mentoring more often . ➤ At the same time, among younger women, there was no particular consensus about whether women are more or less supportive of other women . Some women described negative experiences with women supervisors and peers . ➤ Many agencies still do not have formal mentoring programs in place . Overwhelmingly, women said that the lack of formal mentoring programs is a gap in professional support offered by government agencies, and that the availability of such programs needs to be expanded . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
Work-Life Balance ➤ Women believe that there is a trade-off between professional and personal success . Women expressed that they face unique challenges when it comes to work-life balance . ➤ Women at all levels reflected a view that work-life balance is a very personal issue and that there is no one right way to approach it . Retired and senior-level women commonly expressed that they were unable to achieve their definition of work-life balance . ➤ Many women without children believed that they could not have achieved the same career accomplishments or succeeded in certain positions if they had chosen to have children . ➤ Many women made choices at one or more points in their careers that valued family and children’s priorities over advancement . Women who had reached senior-levels successfully and had children cited instances when they turned down career opportunities for family considerations . ➤ Some women believed it was possible to advance to the highest levels of government while balancing a family life, even though they themselves were unable to achieve it . In several cases, women who had served in extremely senior-level roles in government agencies expressed the strong belief that balance was possible even in such senior ranks . ➤ Overall, there was a recognition that work-life balance options had improved over the years . There was a sense that the institutional cultures have been shifting, and that balancing arrangements for both men and women have been developing . ➤ Flexible arrangements have not yet been institutionalized across all the departments . Information on how to set up these arrangements has not been readily available . Personnel offices have not always known how to establish these arrangements . Meaningful part-time positions, especially in the policy area, remain scarce . Women who have benefited from part-time positions perceived that the arrangements were precarious and largely dependent on the support of current leadership . ➤ Many women continue to leave government employment at the stage of their careers when child-rearing responsibilities begin to take priority at home . Upon resigning from government employment, women commonly expressed that it was nearly impossible to return to government service if they chose to leave completely (unless by political appointment) . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
CONTINUED FROM PREvIOUS PAGE ➤ Women repeatedly cited the outdated maternity and paternity leave policies in government agencies as a problem . The majority of women used their accrued vacation leave and/or unpaid leave period to take time off from work to have their children . ➤ There was a sense that work-life balance is no longer exclusively a “women’s issue,” as more men have also begun trying to achieve a balance with their personal lives . yet, women acknowledged that a disproportionate burden continues to fall on women regarding family and child-rearing responsibilities, and that despite institutional changes, real change will not occur until men take the same level of ownership of work-life challenges . ➤ While most women seemed to be aware of the available flexible arrangements, many emphasized that their office cultures and leadership often do not empower them to take full advantage of these resources . ➤ Many women in this study stated that their direct leadership played the most significant role in setting the tone for whether work-life balance was accepted in their offices . ➤ The bias toward “being present” in the office in government and the perception that an employee is not contributing unless physically at the office were frequently cited as disincentives for employees to take advantage of flexible arrangements, even where the nature of the work would make such arrangements possible . ➤ Some women described the Foreign Service as a particular working environment that requires total dedication . However, Foreign Service officers indicated that overseas posts allowed them to have greater resources and opportunities to tend to their personal and family obligations . ➤ The increase in unaccompanied posts4 in the Foreign Service was highlighted repeatedly as a major problem for women with families . ➤ Of all the agencies surveyed, USAID received the most positive remarks on work-life balance . USAID women cited that the office culture did not put excessive demands on individuals to “pay their dues” by staying lengthy hours in the office . ➤ Interviewees pointed to women who have recently taken on senior-level policy positions in the government agencies as creating cultural change, especially in the DOD, where a number of women in high-level positions have children .
WiiS Goals and Objectives
The primary goal for this study is to improve the professional and leadership opportunities for women in international security in U.S. Government agencies. In pursuing this goal, WIIS established the following objectives for this project:
➤ Improve understanding of trends and patterns over time in terms of women’s representation in the federal government in international security positions.
➤ Identify obstacles for women’s advancement in key government agencies, particularly in attaining and succeeding in leadership positions. Highlight model practices developed by agencies, offices, and leaders to improve women’s participation.
➤ Document the diverse voices, experiences, and wisdom of women who have worked in professional and senior-levels in this career sector.
➤ Examine data on women’s representation and career paths and encourage improvements in collection of data and transparency of information.
➤ Recommend policies and practices to improve recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in international security-related positions in the federal sector.
Why the Executive Branch? capitalizing on Momentum and identifying the Gaps
WIIS focused this study on women in the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government for a number of reasons, including: the increased visibility of women in high-level leadership positions in government working on international security; increased interest in federal career opportunities by women in the WIIS network; recognition of the importance of diversity in recruitment and retention efforts in the public and private sectors; and the remaining gaps in available information on women’s representation and career paths in this particular sector.
1. Increased Visibility of Women in Leadership
In recent years, women have assumed more visible roles in leadership positions in the U.S. Government. At the Cabinet level, three women — Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and currently Hillary Clinton — have served as U.S. Secretary of State; Janet Napolitano is the first woman to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and Henrietta Fore recently served as Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Women have also taken on more visible positions as Undersecretaries in various agencies, including Michèle Flournoy, the first woman appointed to the influential civilian position of Under Secretary of Policy in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In the U.S. military, DOD designated the first woman — Ann Dunwoody — as a four-star general in 2008. Additional female four-star generals will surely follow Dunwoody’s achievement, and a female Secretary of Defense is no longer outside the realm of possibility. Women are also increasingly populating the ranks of Assistant Secretaries, Assistant Administrators, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and U.S. Ambassadors overseas. As one former female Under Secretary of State observed,
“Women are breaking new ground every day in every foreign policy institution.”
—Paula J. Dobriansky, former Under-Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs5
In governments around the world, women are taking positions as heads of state,6 ministers, and other senior-level positions, including as ministers of defense and other positions that were once the exclusive domain of men. It appears that women are making significant headway into leadership positions in the U.S. Government and in other governments globally. Although gender parity has not been reached in these positions, the numbers of women have increased, and more attention has been focused — among policymakers, within agencies, and within the media — on women’s participation in high-levels of government.
How have these women leaders affected the institutions, in which they work? And what impact do these women leaders have on the next generation of women entering and building careers in these institutions? It may be too early to tell. Women’s leadership in this sector should be examined more closely, not only at the top levels, but at the important ranks below where women are making the daily decisions that are shaping U.S. diplomacy, security, and international assistance around the world.
2. Increased Interest in Federal Career Opportunities in a Time of Transition
In 2008–09, the change in the Presidential Administration presented an opportunity to bring more women into international security policymaking positions in the U.S. Government. Among the WIIS network, there has been unprecedented enthusiasm and interest in government positions as women in the network seek political appointments, civil service opportunities, and entrance into the Foreign Service.7 Similarly, this feedback from WIIS members parallels a documented growing interest among young people in the federal service. In 2009, a survey of 200 colleges and universities in the U.S. revealed that 90 percent of student respondents were interested in federal employment opportunities, and almost three-fourths of respondents became more interested in public service after the November 2008 presidential election.8
WIIS began this study in 2008 so that its findings and recommendations could be utilized by the new Administration to better recruit, retain, and advance talented women in government ranks.
3. Importance of Diversity and Recruiting/Retaining Talent
While there has been a surge of interest in careers in government, the U.S. Government has also acknowledged a growing need for diversity within the workforce at all levels. The corporate sector, in particular, has devoted increasing attention to diversity, hiring, and the retention needs for the future. Various studies have highlighted a number of problems with female retention and advancement and the linkages to corporate performance. For example, a March 2008 study by Price Waterhouse Coopers pointed to the fact that in the United States and other Western countries women and men are hired at an equal rate for entry level professional positions, but women are leaving the workforce voluntarily at a rate of two or three times more than men once they reach mid-career and management positions. This and other studies have also cited the under-representation of women in leadership roles, such as directors and CEO’s. The Price Waterhouse Coopers study made the following case for fixing what it refers to as “the leaking pipeline” of women:
“Solving this complex business issue is critical to the business case for success and growth ambitions. Organizations need a culture, worldwide, that attracts, retains, and develops top talent. To succeed in creating that culture is to succeed in creating strong business.”9
The non-profit organization Catalyst has conducted research on women in the corporate sector, including tracking women’s numbers in leadership positions, as well as their advancement opportunities and the patterns that underlie women’s decisions to “opt-out” of the workforce at various points in their careers. Catalyst provides diversity practices for corporations to benefit from the “rich talent pool” by expanding women’s opportunities.10 As a result of this business case for diversity, corporations — including those that are heavily involved in the business of national security — have increasingly established diversity offices and programs aimed at strengthening the pipeline of talent, specifically including female talent.
In order for government employers to attract talent and prepare future leaders, much more attention needs to be devoted to improving outreach and recruitment. The U.S. Government must take critical steps to retain high-quality talent, build the necessary skills of personnel, and institute programs that develop leadership capacity, all with a strong focus on increasing and retaining diversity in government ranks at all levels.11
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported on diversity needs of the federal workforce, especially in the senior-levels of government.12 Recently, the U.S. Congress has also focused attention on this issue. In June 2009, a bill was introduced in the Senate titled “Senior Executive Service Diversity Assurance Act of 2009.” The purpose of the legislation is “to provide greater diversity within, and to improve policy direction and oversight of, the Senior Executive Service.”13 The bill specifically focuses on tracking data, improving recruitment, and instituting professional development programs aimed at women and minorities for senior-level positions in the government. Diversity in recruitment and retention is also closely linked with the urgent need to replace a significant percentage of personnel reaching retirement age.
A 2009 study conducted by the Partnership for Public Service reported, “[n]early one-third of the full-time, permanent federal workforce is projected to leave government in the next five years.”14 In 2007, the Partnership for Public Service reported that this would produce talent shortages and increasing competition among employers. The same report included hiring projections for government agencies in sectors that are relevant to national and international security work. For example, DOD and Treasury planned to fill 3,670 intelligence analyst positions, and the Department of State (DOS) and USAID planned to expand recruitment for Foreign Service and career officers before the end of fiscal year 2009.15
In recent months, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has sought to address the well-known problems with the current government recruiting process and the need to better enable government to compete for qualified candidates and retain them in government service. In July 2009, OPM released a draft strategic plan for 2010–2015. The plan references “the President’s goal of recruiting, hiring and retaining the best and the brightest for Federal service.” Strategic Goal 3 of the plan commits the Government to promote diversity in the federal workforce in the following ways:
➤ Helping agencies create an environment that values workforce diversity and leverages diverse talent to achieve results.
➤ Promoting policies and practices to ensure all segments of society have an opportunity for employment and advancement.
➤ Providing Federal employees and managers with educational and training opportunities aimed at creating and maintaining a culture where diversity is valued and promoted.
➤ Pursuing recruitment and retention efforts focused on attracting diverse talent.16
This WIIS report is intended to provide information, benchmarking, and recommendations to assist the U.S. Government in its efforts to improve policies and programs that affect women’s advancement opportunities.
4. Information on Women in Government: A General Information Gap
A number of studies have been conducted in a variety of sectors that track women’s participation in leadership positions, including information on the number of women in corporate management, women in academia, women in the military, and women in U.S. politics and the media.17 But there remains an information gap on women’s participation in leadership positions in the U.S. Government, particularly in policy positions — both an absence of research by outside organizations and a lack of available data or analysis collection inside the government to support diversity efforts. This report complements efforts by other organizations to benchmark women’s progress in a variety of fields. The WIIS research highlights data on participation and reveals insights on women’s leadership experiences in the international security arena.
While women have become more visible in the highest leadership positions in government, it is difficult to get an accurate picture of how women are represented in the upper professional levels of international security-related positions. Outside of the military ranks, the statistics on civilian women in specific government positions are not easily accessible. While government agencies track general statistics on recruitment, retention, and attrition, the numbers often do not capture enough information on how women are experiencing barriers to advancement and when they are choosing to leave government service. The available data is useful to gain a bird’s eye view of the demographics of federal employees, but the numbers that are available are generally presented by salary level and are usually not distinguished by type of professional position. This makes it impossible to determine how many women are in policymaking or related positions at any given level in any one of the relevant federal agencies. Furthermore, throughout this study, WIIS observed that the offices dedicated to tracking and analyzing employment statistics remain under-resourced.
WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? ExAMPLES OF WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION IN
The following snapshot indicates that, although there has been progress in the past decade in women’s participation in this sector, women remain underrepresented in key agencies and positions.
2008 U.S. Department of State Statistics at the Senior Foreign Service (SFS)18 ➤ Career Ambassador (Generalist and Specialist): 6 Total, 2 Women (33 .3%) ➤ Career Minister (Generalist and Specialist): 23 Total, 5 Women (21 .7%) 2008 Promotions: 4 Total, 0 Women (0%) ➤ Minister-Counselor (Generalist and Specialist): 399 Total, 114 Women (28 .6%) 2008 Promotions: 51 Total, 17 Women (33 .3%) ➤ Counselor (Generalist and Specialist): 520 Total, 130 Women (25%) 2008 Promotions: 98 Total, 29 Women (29 .6%) ➤ FS-01 Promotion Pool in September 2008: 36 .7% Women U.S. Department of State Statistics in the Senior Civil Service (SES)19 ➤ 133 Total, 45 Women (33 .8%): • GS-15 Promotion Pool in September 2007: 41 .3% Women 2008 U.S. Agency for International Development20 ➤ Career Minister: 2 promoted, 1 woman (50%) ➤ Minister-Counselor: 7 promoted, 4 women (57 .1%) ➤ Counselor: 15 promoted, 5 women (33 .3 %) In 2007, women made up 43% of the Foreign Service at USAID and 59% of the total USAID Civil Service . However, women only held 29% of the Senior Foreign Service positions . U.S. Department of Defense ➤ In 2007, women held 21 .7% of SES positions in DOD Civil Workforce . This percentage has not dramatically changed over the past 10 years, though it may have increased slightly . Senior-level DOD Demographics for June 2009 cite 23 .09% women . U.S. Department of Homeland Security ➤ In 2007, women made up 26 .2% of SES positions out of 325 . This was an increase from 2003, when women made up 21 .2% of 208 SES positions . ➤ In the GS-14 and 15 SES promotion pool, women made up 32 .5% of 10,107 positions .
May 21, 2008 GaO rEPOrt · hUMan caPitaL: WOrKFOrcE divErSity
GOvErnMEntWidE and at thE dEPartMEnt OF hOMELand SEcUrity
SES potential developmental pool (GS-15s and G8-14s)
Source: GAO analysis of OPM’s CPDF .
Systematic tracking and analysis of the statistics is needed to determine where the gaps in women’s participation really are and what policies can be designed and implemented to address them. As a starting point to measure progress of women in this sector, WIIS has gathered available statistics and developed initial insights about the current participation of women.
In addition to the gaps in quantitative data, very little information has been gathered from women themselves in these agencies about their own perspectives, experiences, and challenges in advancement. Despite numerous government statements and policies on diversity and the importance of women’s leadership, there is little public data on how women in this sector are viewing leadership opportunities, and how they are developing and applying leadership skills in their government positions. This gap in knowledge hampers government efforts to improve recruitment and retention of women. This study aims to provide important data for policymakers and organizations that are invested in promoting women’s leadership. As mentioned above, individual women who are seeking government opportunities or charting careers in the government in international security often have little access to comprehensive information about how other women have approached their career decisions. This study is also intended to provide talented women in the U.S. who are pursuing international security careers with some lessons learned from other women.
Framework, Focus, and Methodology for this Study
The national and international security arena has expanded rapidly in the past two decades. WIIS, with its diverse network of experts working on both “hard” and “soft” security issues, reflects the changing international security paradigm. Where once international security careers were defined as those in the defense, intelligence, or related fields, now the term includes professionals working on myriad issues affecting global, regional, state, and human security. The U.S. Government has increasingly recognized that its national and global security interests are related to every facet of the federal government apparatus. While DOD and DOS continue to be the powerful and prominent governmental agencies engaged in this area, almost every agency and department now has an international affairs component and defined foreign affairs or national security professionals working within its ranks. The scope of potential work and career paths in government has broadened enormously.
Although almost every U.S. Government agency includes portfolios that relate to national security and international affairs, WIIS limited the scope of this study to an analysis of women in a select group of agencies and departments. However, this limited scope is in no way a reflection of a limited definition of international security by WIIS. It is also important to note that men were not included as interviewees in this study. While future research may incorporate men’s experiences and perspectives as a point of reference for women’s experiences, this study was designed to highlight the unique experiences and challenges faced by women in these professions.
WIIS conducted individual interviews and focus groups with more than 90 women who currently serve in government or have retired from government service in national security, foreign policy, and international assistance. All of the interviews and discussion groups were conducted on a non-attribution basis. The majority of women can be classified as mid- and senior-level professionals. For purposes of this study, WIIS defined mid-level professionals as GS 12–14 or equivalent and seniorlevel professionals as GS 15 and Senior Executive Service. Women were interviewed who serve or have served as civil servants, Foreign Service Officers (DOS and USAID), and political appointees. In addition to those currently serving in government positions, women who had previously served in government but transitioned to the corporate, non-profit, or academic arenas were included in the interviews.
Women who participated in the study represented government experience in the following agencies and departments:
➤ U.S. Department of State
➤ U.S. Department of Defense (primarily Office of the Secretary of Defense)
➤ U.S. Agency for International Development
➤ National Security Council
➤ U.S. Department of Homeland Security
➤ U.S. Department of Energy
➤ Defense Intelligence Agency
➤ Central Intelligence Agency
➤ Directorate of National Intelligence
➤ Government Accountability Office
WIIS focused on civilian women in government. Although some women were interviewed who had previous military experience, WIIS did not examine women’s participation in the U.S. military as a component of this study.21
As explained above, the statistical data that is available on women in government agencies and departments is not readily accessible to outside organizations. Often, the data provides a general picture of the federal workforce, or agency workforce, based on gender or other diversity factors. Yet, the data is rarely available in more specific areas, such as women in specific components of these agencies or in particular types of job classifications (e.g. Foreign Affairs Officer, etc.). Some agencies and departments appear to track statistics over time, but others either did not have this historical data available or chose not to provide it. Thus, the statistics that are presented in this study are a reflection of what was provided by individual agencies upon request. There are no consistent methods or presentations of statistical data on women in government among agencies. Therefore, direct comparisons across agencies are not always possible.
WIIS intended to gather as much data and input as possible from the intelligence sector, but encountered difficulties receiving responses from this sector. WIIS was able to interview some of its members and others who had retired from intelligence positions about their experiences. But the quantitative data WIIS was able to collect on women in the intelligence agencies in this study is limited to what has been reported in other studies.
WIIS focused on the following themes in discussing career experiences with participants in this study:
➤ How women are entering the sector and what factors motivated them to pursue careers in this field.
➤ The essential skills and approaches that women perceive to be essential for career success in government agencies.
➤ Specific challenges that women feel they have faced in career advancement, including overt or implicit gender discrimination, and how women have navigated particular institutional cultures and environments within government. ➤ The importance of mentoring and how mentoring relationships are developed in these agencies.
➤ How women define model leadership, and how they have developed their own approaches to leadership throughout their careers.
➤ How women view work-life balance and its relationship to advancement in government.
Although this report includes important quantitative data, and offers policy relevant findings and recommendations, ultimately it is a report about historical change, cultural and institutional shifts, individual perceptions and life choices. As such, it provides an unprecedented look into the diverse opinions, experiences, and insights of women in this sector.
navigaTing insTiTuTional environmenTs
Challenges and opportunities for Women
the historical Evolution of Women’s Participation in diplomacy and defense
In 1933, Ambassador Ruth Bryan Owen was the first woman to be appointed as a U.S. ambassador (to Denmark). It was another 20 years (in 1953) until the next female Ambassador was appointed — Ambassador Francis Willis to Switzerland. Ambassadors Ruth Bryan Owen and Francis Willis pioneered the way for women to join the ranks of senior-level federal employees. These women, however, were rare among an exclusively white male diplomatic service. In the post-World War II period, women in the U.S. Government were generally hired into secretarial and other clerical positions. Hiring and promotion practices for policy and executive level positions were not “women-friendly.” Between 1961 and 1971, the recruitment of women into the Foreign Service remained at 7 percent with a slow promotion rate.22
Interviews with retired and senior-level women for this study indicated that women were often discouraged from applying or entering into government service in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. These experiences were highlighted by women who entered DOS during these decades. For example, one former female ambassador recalled that a recruiter on her college campus specifically discouraged women from applying to the Foreign Service. Subsequently, this particular woman not only took the exam and entered the Foreign Service, but ultimately, rose to the highest ranks of the diplomatic service.23
Barriers to entry were only the first set of challenges for women during these decades. Women who did enter the State Department or Defense Department during the 1960s and 1970s in policy related positions were usually the only women within their offices or units. With few, if any, female counterparts, these women had to operate in a male-dominated culture where it remained the norm for women to serve in clerical and support staff roles.
Women who served in policy positions during the 1960s and 1970s recalled that overt gender discrimination was pervasive and an accepted part of the mainstream institutional culture in these agencies. There were no significant safeguards in place during this time to protect women from sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Women in this study reported many instances of discrimination in their early careers. In many cases, discrimination took the form of being passed up for promotions, and in other cases, women felt that they were segregated into certain jobs and tasks based on gender bias. For example, some women in the Foreign Service said that they were limited to specific “cones,” such as personnel, and not allowed to rotate into more prestigious areas, such as political affairs, while their male counterparts were given these opportunities.24 In several cases, it was very clear to women that senior-level supervisors did not want women to serve in these types of positions.
In 1975, only 9 percent of 3,461 active FSOs, or 312 people, were women, even though females made up 44 percent of all college graduates that year. In 1974, 65 percent of the women who joined the Foreign Service were assigned to one of four cones: the consular cone, considered the least interesting of the four specialties, which also include political, economic and administrative work. Since only 10 percent of this cone was routinely promoted to FS-1s — the equivalent of the Senior Foreign Service today — it was seen as a dead-end specialization by many FSOs. Women […] claimed this practice had unfairly delayed their career paths. In 1974, male FSOs made up 90 percent of the FS-1s and 83 percent of FS-2s, the next highest grade, while women were concentrated at the three lowest grade levels.25
Several retired women stated that the institutional culture reflected the attitude of American culture and society during the time period. One interviewee who had served in DOD in a civilian policy position highlighted that managers and leaders did not even think about women’s career advancement. When a position at a higher level opened in her office, she asked to be considered for the position. The General who was making the decision was considering her male counterpart for the promotion. He expressed surprise at her suggestion and admitted that it had not occurred to him to consider her. She emphasized in her interview with WIIS that he was not opposed to the idea, and she was ultimately offered the promotion. But she saw this experience as an illustration of a key shift that had to occur in the perception of women’s advancement by the institutional leadership.26
Women in the federal workforce were expected to quit earlier in their careers because of marriage and children in these decades. In the State Department, women were required to quit the Foreign Service if they decided to marry, and it was common for women entering the Foreign Service to be questioned about their plans to get married.
“Women in the Foreign Service knew that if they married they would have to resign and we accepted that discrimination without batting an eyelash.” — Phyllis
Oakley, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research27
“It was the oral exam that brought the subject of married women and the FS to my attention. I told the panel that I understood the ground rule. I must say that I was greatly irritated by the question, not because I was surprised by it — I had anticipated some questions regarding my gender — but because each of the other two examiners found it necessary to ask the same question separately — in turn — even though I had given the textbook answer.” — Teresita Schaffer, former
U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia28
This ban on married female Foreign Service officers existed until 1972, when internal protests against sexual discrimination began to change the institutional environment.
challenging discrimination: Legal action and institutional change
While there were gradual changes within these institutions in the post-World War II era, the 1970s ushered in a pivotal period of institutional change for women’s recruitment and visibility. Women who served in government positions during this time recalled that there was a gradual evolution in thinking in these workplaces that reflected the events surrounding the U.S. civil rights and women’s rights movements. Some women who were recruited during the 1970s recognized that they entered government service during a significant time for women’s opportunities. During this period, a number of organizations began to press for equality in these agencies, and female federal employees filed lawsuits and formal complaints. These actions created controversy, as well as opportunity, for women to voice their experiences. The advocacy and legal actions ultimately resulted in dramatic policy shifts within departments, particularly in DOS.
The Women’s Action Organization (WAO)29 was founded in 1970 in reaction to the inequitable treatment and incredibly slow rate of promotion of women in the State Department. Among its goals, the WAO, along with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), worked to abolish the regulation that prevented women who married from entering or remaining in the Foreign Service. As a result, the State Department overturned its ban on the marriage of female diplomats in 1972, and took steps to improve inequities in housing allowances and in the recruitment process.30
In addition to internal advocacy, legal action against the State Department played a significant role in publicizing and bringing about institutional change and corrective action in improving women’s treatment in the Foreign Service. Women in this study frequently referenced one particularly well-known case. Alison Palmer, a female Foreign Service officer with the State Department, filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the State Department in the late 1960s, and was the first to successfully win such a case after a 20-year battle in the courts. The Palmer case, which eventually evolved into a class action lawsuit, had a ripple effect on women’s advancement opportunities in the decades to follow. In some cases, the State Department issued corrective action in the form of reassigning women to positions. In the 1980s, women who were not promoted during this period were eligible for redress, which generally meant they could be assigned to senior positions.A
Women reported in WIIS interviews that this remedy caused significant discord among some women and men in the Department who felt that women who accepted redress were wrongly “leap-frogging” over others into more senior positions. While many women supported the Palmer lawsuit as a milestone for women’s career advancement at the State Department, others felt tainted by the case, in particular expressing that they feared being perceived as “token” women in seniorlevel positions.
Similar formal complaints and lawsuits followed in the late 1970s and 1980s in other agencies, adding to the momentum for more equitable treatment of women in the government workforce.32 In 1977, Harritte Thompson, a female intelligence officer, filed a formal complaint against the Directorate of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was the first to result in a discrimination lawsuit against the CIA. The Agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity investigation report found practices in the Directorate of Operations that had constituted discrimination against women in the promotion process. And in the specific case of Harritte Thompson, the investigation report also stated that discrimination was a clear factor in preventing her promotion. A lawsuit was formally filed in 1979, which resulted in an out of court settlement that required the Directorate of Operations to revise its promotion criteria.33
Some women were critical of formal complaints and legal action. In interviews for this study, there was no consensus among women within agencies that formal lawsuits were the best mechanisms for effecting change, and some women reported that they purposefully stayed away from advocacy groups that were vocally arguing for equality. These women felt that they could overcome instances of discrimination through their own merit.
The battles over gender equality during this period did play an important role in raising women’s consciousness levels about gender discrimination. Nevertheless, many women felt that this was not an issue that could be solved by rules and regulations, but rather through societal and cultural change.
“The debate about the new regulations did raise my consciousness about gender discrimination. Some of the attitudes that I had shrugged off earlier in my career seemed more significant. I basically felt — and still do to some extent — that the key problem that women faced in the Foreign Service was not the system or the rules, but the institutional culture which had prevailed for most of the careers of our older colleagues. They had a hard time adjusting to the ‘new’ woman.” — Teresita Schaffer, former U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia34
Women’s perceptions and experiences during the 1970s varied widely, and equal opportunity in the federal workforce had not yet been institutionalized. Still, significant changes in legal protection and personnel and management policies began during this period, and women themselves made an unprecedented impact on improving their opportunities to succeed in government service.
Women cited both formal and informal departmental policies that they felt had an impact on their personal career advancement opportunities, as well as on the greater community of female federal employees. In addition to the formal legal and legislative protection, informal policies included rhetorical commitments by presidential administrations to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Key examples of these milestones are included below:
➤ 1964: Title vII of the Civil Rights Act protects women against employment discrimination on the basis of gender .
➤ 1972: The Equal Employment Opportunity Act prohibits “discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral and other aspects of employment on the basis of . . . sex .”
➤ 1972: The State Department overturned ban on female married Foreign Service officers .
➤ 1978: With the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act, the U .S . Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) assumed responsibility for enforcing anti-discrimination laws applicable to the civilian federal workforce as well as coordinating all federal equal employment opportunity programs .
➤ 1978: In addition to creating a position for a women’s rights officer within the White House, President Carter issued Executive Order (E .O .) 12050 in 1978, establishing an Interdepartmental Task Force on Women’s Rights and a National Advisory Committee on Women to promote and monitor policies in these areas .
➤ 1979: President Jimmy Carter issued E .O . 12138, creating a National Women’s Business Enterprise Policy and requiring each agency to take affirmative action to support women’s business enterprises .35
➤ 1994: President Clinton issued a memorandum entitled “Expanding FamilyFriendly Work Arrangements in the Executive Branch,” and directed agencies to review their practices and provide workers with flexible hours to help them manage both work and family obligations .
➤ 1995: President Clinton established a White House office for Women’s Initiatives to serve as a liaison between the Administration, federal agencies, and civil society organizations to facilitate the development of policies that benefit women . In the same year, the President’s Interagency Council on Women was formed to coordinate implementation of the Platform for Action outlined at the 4th United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, and to develop initiatives to further women’s progress through outreach and public education .
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➤ 2000: Near the end of President Clinton’s 2nd term in office, the U .S . Department of Labor introduced new affirmative action regulations, which marked an unprecedented effort by the agency to promote equal pay . The new policies included an Equal Opportunity Survey requiring federal contractors to report data on compensation, hiring, termination, and promotions by minority status and gender .
➤ 2009: President Obama issued E .O . 13506, establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls to help ensure that federal programs and policies take into account the unique needs and interests of women and girls .
➤ 2009: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama . Under the new law, victims of pay-based discrimination have the right to file a complaint to government within 180 days of their most recent paycheck as opposed to within 180 days of their first unfair paycheck . The latter policy which was overturned facilitated wage discrimination, as employers only had to hide discriminatory practices for a short amount of time in order to be safe from legal action .
the current Picture: Perceptions, credibility and Biases within agencies
Junior and mid-level women who were interviewed for this study did not perceive sexual and gender-based discrimination as the singularly significant barrier to their career advancement, as it had been for previous generations. While they regarded government institutions as intolerant of discrimination, women have remained acutely aware of their minority status in many international security environments. In a few cases, women mentioned experiences working with colleagues or individuals who exhibited outdated gender biases.
Regardless of agency, the majority of women emphasized the importance of overcoming perceived biases about women’s expertise and the challenges of establishing and maintaining credibility. They pointed to a need to establish credibility quickly, especially in the defense, intelligence, and law enforcement areas, and acknowledged that this was sometimes difficult in these communities. One seniorlevel defense official explained,
“When I walk into a room, there’s an unspoken expectation that I won’t know what I’m talking about. As a woman, I feel that I have to hold myself to a higher standard to be taken seriously” — Senior-level woman, Office of the Secretary of Defense36
Some women stated that it was more difficult to do this in defense agencies without a military background, while those with military backgrounds credited their experience with helping them “talk the talk” within the defense establishment. “Ageism” was a commonly cited challenge among mid- to senior-level women. In some cases, women who were interviewed believed that ageism was a greater barrier than gender-based discrimination. Women who had been promoted at a relatively young age believed that they had to overcome certain misperceptions about their expertise because of their relative youth. Some interviewees saw “being young and female” as a double set of barriers to overcome in gaining respect and acknowledgement of their rank or position. Women who were able to advance to the more senior ranks quickly often found themselves in situations where they were 10–15 years younger than their predominately white, male counterparts.
Separately, many women at the junior and mid-levels believed that being a woman could be an asset, as their minority status made them more visible among their peers. This visibility could be used, in turn, to help them establish credibility. In addition, some women stated that since women tend to be underestimated, they view being a woman as an opportunity to overcome biases and change viewpoints. But women acknowledged that they also experience pressure to demonstrate skills and knowledge from the outset.
“Sometimes being young and female is good, because you can catch them off guard and prove yourself. But women fall a lot harder than our male counterparts if we don’t demonstrate our expertise.” —Mid-level woman, DHS37
Women working in DOD described the agency as a meritocracy, especially those in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Women felt that they were able to gain credibility and opportunities for advancement once they demonstrated their expertise of the subject matter. However, a number of career civil service women pointed out that many senior-level positions in OSD are political appointments, and that women in the career civil service have to manage their expectations of how far they can advance in their careers due to the structural limitations for civil servants.
Among the women interviewed, those who have worked in USAID were the most positive about the atmosphere and possibilities for women. USAID was described as a less hierarchical culture compared to the other government agencies with a real focus on diversity and gender balance. Women at all levels generally viewed USAID’s leadership as committed to diversity, and that this commitment has been reflected in the significant number of women in senior-level positions. One former senior-level woman who worked at USAID recalled her time there:
“There were unbelievably competent women in USAID in positions of authority, and there was no resistance to the idea of women in these positions.”—Former U.S. Ambassador and senior-level woman at USAID)38
Some pointed to the nature of USAID’s work and culture in facilitating more opportunities for women:
“The nature of AID’s work is very inclusive of women. Balance is more equitable.”
—Senior-level career Foreign Service officer at USAID39
Within DHS, some mid-level women perceived that men were promoted at a greater rate than women. As one woman observed, “There was a period when I saw women coming in as support staff while men were being recruited as special assistants.”40 Some women attributed this to the law enforcement culture. However, women also pointed to a shifting institutional culture in DHS, perceiving that the increased number of women in leadership positions could create a more positive environment for women. As one senior-level woman who had recently joined DHS commented,
“[It] makes a difference having more women at DHS. It’s a very encouraging environment. There’s openness in decision making with more women. Your voice is expected to be heard.” —Senior-level political appointee, DHS41
It is clear that the equal treatment of women and opportunities for advancement have improved enormously during the past 30 years. It took a combination of directed legal and advocacy action, consciousness-raising, and societal changes to overcome the gender-based discrimination that had been so pervasive in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. As a result of those changes, and the policies and initiatives that followed, women no longer regard gender-based discrimination as an obstacle to success in this sector today. Yet, they point to unique challenges based on gender and often on age, in establishing credibility as experts in these environments. As women continue to face these more nuanced dynamics, the increase in visible female leaders is seen as an opportunity to change perceptions and cultures for the emerging generations.
Motivating Factors for Pursuing Government careers in international Security
Women who were interviewed for this study initially entered into federal service between the 1960s and 2000s . Across the span of entry experiences, these women shared some common factors that influenced them to pursue this career path . Almost all the women had early international or multi-cultural experiences through their personal family histories and experiences living or traveling outside of the U .S . as children . Some also had educational opportunities in language studies, foreign affairs, and study abroad programs . The women were also able to attain a highlevel of education, many of them having completed a post-graduate degree before entering into federal service .
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Cold War and the vietnam War were key events in influencing their decisions to pursue international careers . They also pointed to the influence of strong female role models in their formative years who gave them a heightened sense of responsibility and confidence to pursue their goals . Some women who entered into DOD were also influenced by their experiences serving in the military .
Getting the Foot in the door: how Women in Government are Entering the Sector Women who were interviewed for this study utilized a variety of entry points to start careers in government . The most common entry points cited were structured programs, such as the competitive Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program for the Civil Service and the examination process for the Foreign Service . Other agency-specific programs and internship opportunities also facilitated entry at the junior professional levels . Participants expressed that such structured entry programs gave them certain advantages by providing them with an existing group of peers and mentors, training, and career planning resources . Individuals were better able to learn how to navigate bureaucratic processes and dynamics, as well as find opportunities for advancement . The programs did, however, vary in the degree of organization . The PMF program received the most positive feedback in this regard . Contract employment through private contracting companies was another common entry mechanism, particularly for DOD, DHS, and USAID . While some interviewees expressed advantages to contract employment, including job flexibility and higher pay, many felt that they were disadvantaged by not being directly hired by the government . very few interviewees seemed to have entered by applying for open vacancies on USA Jobs, the formal online mechanism for applying for federal government positions . The few individuals who were placed through USA Jobs did not feel that they had the same support mechanisms or networking opportunities as those who entered through structured programs . In a few cases, women entered into administrative jobs and later transitioned into policy related positions . But this transition from the administrative track to the policy track was somewhat difficult . In one particular case, a woman was promised that she would be able to transition after a limited period of time serving in an administrative function . However, her supervisor was not supportive of her move and she had to fight hard internally to make the transition . In some cases, women entered as political appointees . Key senior-level contacts with strong political connections played a crucial role in bringing these women into political positions . Influential mentors and sponsors were necessary for these types of opportunities . One female former senior-level political appointee in DOD emphasized the importance of “being in the right networks” and “receiving the right phone call” during a presidential transition .42 Another senior-level woman who served in political positions in DOS and USAID leveraged her relationships with key individuals in the White House to highlight specific positions she was interested in and qualified for in the new administration . She was subsequently appointed into a political position . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
CONTINUED FROM PREvIOUS PAGE While entry experiences have varied across the agencies and generations, participants agreed on the difficulties and limitations of the existing entry mechanisms into the U .S . Government . Although a number of WIIS members have had successful government careers, many others share the frustration in their quest to pursue government careers . The most frequently cited programs and entry points included: ➤ Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) (formerly the Presidential Management Intern program): https://www .pmf .opm .gov/ ➤ Other Fellowships White House Fellows: http://www .whitehouse .gov/about/fellows/Boren Fellowship: http://www .borenawards .org/boren_fellowshipPickering Fellowship: http://careers .state .gov/students/programs . html#TRPAAAS Fellowship: http://www .aaas .org/aboutaaas/fellows/ ➤ Foreign Service (State Department and USAID) ➤ State Department Career Entry Program: http://careers .state .gov/ civil-service/employment .html#CEP ➤ Internships ➤ Private Contracting Firms ➤ Political Appointments ➤ USA Jobs ➤ Department of DHS STEP Program: http://www .dhs .gov/xabout/careers/ gc_1220993249167 .shtm ➤ DHS Fellows Program: http://www .orau .gov/dhsed/ ➤ Lateral moves between government agencies
The role models Women and leadership in government
In 2008, Pew Research Center polled American men and women on gender and leadership. The study found that 69 percent of men and 68 percent of women viewed both men and women equally as leaders.43 Other research has confirmed that men and women are increasingly comfortable with women in leadership positions.44 Yet, challenges remain in how women view available leadership opportunities and paths in government, as well as how women define their own leadership styles. Although the interviews in this study reflected a diverse set of viewpoints, some key lessons emerged from the discussions on how women could better develop their leadership abilities, remain cognizant of common problems in leadership, and become exceptional examples of leadership in this sector.
Experts and trainers who specialize in leadership emphasize that leadership is not based on position or rank, but rather on behavior and approaches, and that any individual can demonstrate leadership in daily life and work. However, the terms “leadership” and “management” are often conflated. This has especially been true within hierarchical institutions, such as the U.S. Government. Women who were interviewed for this study generally considered leaders as those with decision-making authority in the bureaucracies in which they worked. They did not refer to their colleagues, at comparable levels or more junior level professionals, as leaders. Instead, women focused on their experiences with managers and supervisors, as well as their own reflections about their personal leadership approaches when managing others.
Women in DOD highlighted the military as an institution that grooms leaders effectively. Women who had previously served in the military before moving into civilian government positions cited the military training and experience as a major benefit in their own ability to lead others. As one such interviewee explained, “In the military, you are responsible for people in physical time and space. You learn physical problem-solving — it is really hands-on.”45 In addition to building leadership potential, women with previous military training also emphasized that their
“Good leaders are accountable if they fail — this is a leadership responsibility because the people under you are acting under your guidance.”
— Former Deputy
Assistant Secretary of Defense
experience gave them an added advantage in working within military and defense culture when they moved to civilian positions. Women with military backgrounds pointed to the lack of attention that U.S. civilian departments and agencies have given to leadership development. Even in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where there would be some expectation of carry-over from the military model, women reported very little focus on building and improving leadership capabilities. Women from both military and non-military backgrounds also highlighted leaders who had come from the military community for their model leadership qualities. For example, women who had served under the leadership of Colin Powell in DOS frequently cited him as an effective leader. Interviewees positively attributed Colin Powell’s military leadership experience as a benefit to his tenure at the State Department.
“Good leaders are accountable if they fail — this is a leadership responsibility because the people under you are acting under your guidance.” — Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense46
crucial approaches for Leadership Success in Government
Mid- and senior professional level women in this study identified common factors and approaches47 that they considered essential for effectively advancing into and demonstrating in leadership positions in the government. These include: ➤ A positive reputation in the office, department, interagency structure, and wider community of experts, and a high level of substantive knowledge in the area of work.
➤ A broad professional network built on personal relationships.
➤ Demonstrated hard work, reliability, and trustworthiness.
➤ Ability to work within particular institutional cultures and to “talk the talk,” and willingness to share information among colleagues and agencies. ➤ Mentors or sponsors in positions to assist with advancement, and the ability to leverage these contacts when needed.
➤ Recognition of the importance of timing and willingness to seize career opportunities when they arise, even if not planned.
➤ An ability to calmly and effectively deal with national security/foreign policy crisis situations.
➤ Knowing the limits of your knowledge and not being afraid to ask for help when needed.
➤ Willingness to develop teams, deputize staff, and delegate authority, allowing subordinates to make mistakes and learn from them.
➤ Protecting staff members and demonstrating a willingness to “take the spear if you have to.”
➤ Willingness to admit mistakes and not place the blame on others.
➤ Confidence to claim credit for accomplishments (which many considered a common failure of women).
Elements of Success in Government contexts In addition to the major themes mentioned in the previous section, women interviewed for the study frequently mentioned the following personal characteristics as fundamental to good leadership: ➤ Principled ➤ Attentiveness ➤ Integrity ➤ Loyalty ➤ Openness and ➤ Creativity Transparency ➤ Communication ➤ Helpfulness and ➤ Multi-tasking ability Candidness ➤ Willingness to take risks ➤ Personal Commitment ➤ Decisiveness ➤ Sense of Humor ➤ Collaboration
how Women Lead: differences Based on Gender?
In general, women in this study did not attribute specific leadership styles to women. Many stated that they had experienced good and bad leadership by both men and women, and that leadership approaches depended on individual personality more than gender. That said, women commonly described their own leadership qualities as involving consensus, collaboration, inclusiveness, and team-based approaches. Women also used the same terms to describe model leadership by others. Those who believed that differences exist between men’s and women‘s leadership styles pointed to these same approaches as ways in which women distinguished themselves in leadership roles. Women from all agencies expressed the common view that collaboration and teamwork improve an organization and lead to better decision-making processes.
[Women in leadership] make the organization more holistic. Women are more likely to look at the human side of things, to draw goals more broadly, to look at diversity, to be good at inclusivity, and to have real consideration for people’s lives.” — Retired senior-level woman who served in the NSC and DOD48
“[Women in leadership] make the organization more holistic. Women are more likely to look at the human side of things, to draw goals more broadly, to look at diversity, to be good at inclusivity, and to have real consideration for people’s lives.”
— Retired senior-level woman who served in the NSC and DOD
Some women in their 30s and 40s who had more recently achieved senior-level positions in government described their leadership approaches, not only as focused on teambuilding, but also as “non-hierarchical.” Several women at USAID highlighted the non-hierarchical leadership approach, and described USAID’s culture as supporting this type of leadership practice. Women who had more recently moved into senior-level positions in other
“Good leaders inspire more than manage.”— former female ambassador who served in DOS and USAID
agencies, such as DOD, also viewed the non-hierarchical leadership style positively. Although women acknowledged that this style was somewhat unconventional to the military culture, they expressed that they had not needed to change their approach to better fit into the traditional culture, as long as they led with direct and clear instructions. This may indicate a broader shift in terms of how the incoming and advancing generations of women are viewing and practicing leadership, even within highly hierarchical government environments. Many women emphasized the ability to build strong relationships — with staff, coworkers, colleagues, and superiors — as a fundamental element of leadership where women appear to excell. Interviewees often gave examples of taking specific steps to encourage and support staff, especially through difficult personal challenges. For example, one former diplomat described her role in helping two women who were experiencing difficulties job sharing and balancing work and family in an overseas post. Another senior-level woman in DOD spoke about a staff member who was experiencing a terminal illness in his immediate family and the steps she took as a manager to ensure that he was prioritizing his family needs at that time.
Bad Behavior: the common Pitfalls of Poor Managers and Leaders
Every industry experiences a share of poor leadership examples. As such, women in this study frequently cited experiences with poor management and leadership in government. This finding mirrors other studies that have focused on perceptions of senior-level leaders in government. The 2008 Human Capital Survey reported that less than 51 percent of respondents throughout the U.S. Government had a highlevel of respect for senior-level leaders in their agencies. GS 14’s and 15’s viewed the major purpose of the Senior Executive Service (SES) as providing leadership, but many complained that SES personnel have often been technical experts who have not cultivated their own leadership skills.49
Some women expressed a frustration with the government’s promotion structure, which has been designed in a way that requires individuals to eventually advance into management roles. No alternative promotion track exists for those who want to continue to focus on substantive portfolios without management responsibility. Women acknowledged that the skills and approaches required for portfolio expertise differed from those needed in leadership positions. In that regard, some
women expressed that the promotion structure could be a factor contributing to poor management behavior.
In some cases, negative experiences with poor managers have yielded positive leadership behaviors in emerging managers. Women in this study derived many lessons learned from their own experiences with poor managers, and made commitments not to repeat bad behavior as they reached positions of authority. In particular, women described numerous examples of both men and women who exhibited micromanaging, disrespectful, and in some cases, abusive practices toward their staff. In contrast, women distinguished the best examples of managers as those who sought out talent; recognized, promoted, and rewarded quality work; listened to staff and communicated decision-making processes; and mentored staff members through professional and personal challenges.
“Good leaders inspire more than manage.” —Female former Ambassador who served in DOS and USAID50
Male role models also made an important impact on how women developed good leadership practices. Women generally looked to male role models more often than women when emulating good leadership strategies. Some women, particularly at the senior-levels, claimed that they were unable to find good female leadership examples. Women testified to a range of examples of female leadership from excellent to extremely negative.
Interviewees also described a generational shift in how women approach leadership and management. In their previous experiences, interviewees observed that women managers often neglected to reach down to help women in the pipeline. Younger women leaders, however, have been more collaborative in their leadership styles and have made efforts to raise new leaders. (See also discussion of mentoring above.)
“I had an ambassador who was my boss. He always explained to me his strategies and important decisions — how he arrived at them, what factors he considered. He shared a lot of information. It was a great learning experience.” — Senior female Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State51
the Great Balancing act: dealing with Persistent Gender Stereotypes
One of the strongest themes to emerge was the difficulty that women perceived in balancing “feminine” and “masculine” qualities. Although some women expressed admiration for strong female leaders as role models, women disapproved of those who were overly-aggressive in their approaches to colleagues and staff. Women in this study commented that the negativity associated with aggressive approaches by women reflected a double standard, as male counterparts were not necessarily judged in the same regard. Some senior-level women acknowledged that they had
“I had an ambassador who was my boss. He always explained to me his strategies and important decisions — how he arrived at them, what factors he considered. He shared a lot of information. It was a great learning experience.”
— Senior female
“Throwing elbows makes you a bitch. If a man does it, it’s just considered playing hard.”
— Former Ambassador who served in the
NSC and DOS
used aggressive approaches, and expressed frustration that men had not been subject to the same negative criticisms. One former senior-level woman who had served in DOD gave an example of a boss who criticized her for being too aggressive. The interviewee remarked that if she had been a man, she would have received a different reaction. Another senior-level woman in DOD explained that women find it difficult to be balanced in such a male-dominated environment due to the strong inclination to be “one of the guys.” In retrospect, she reflected that she had been too demanding and tough in her own leadership approach.
“Throwing elbows makes you a bitch. If a man does it, it’s just considered playing hard.” — Former Ambassador who served in the NSC and DOS52
The younger cohort of women in this study viewed aggressive approaches as ineffective in their own leadership roles. Several women who had recently been appointed into senior-level positions in DOD described previous experiences with senior-level women who had “sharp elbows” — and used aggressive and abrasive tactics to demonstrate competence in male-dominated working environments. They also observed that when women lack self-confidence, they exert excessive control over staff. As one former ambassador stated, “Some women have felt that they have to be tougher than men, and they become severe bosses.”53
Women currently serving in leadership positions clearly distinguished their own leadership approaches from the negative examples. One woman described her own style as “empowerment with accountability,” explaining that her staff were more productive with a positive working environment. She also stressed the importance of creating a dynamic of accountability and willingness to receive constructive feedback. As a leader, she felt that it was more important to discuss problems with her staff, rather than berating them for mistakes. Her leadership style reflected a focus on empowerment.54 These above perspectives parallel findings from other industries, including the corporate and the academic arenas.55
“Good leaders empower their subordinates, give them sufficient guidance, and trust their decisions.” — Senior Foreign Service Officer, DOS56
Women in this study were equally wary of being considered too passive or lacking decisiveness in their leadership styles. They recognized that these traits could damage their credibility and authority in government contexts. While interviewees clearly pointed to inclusiveness and consensus-building as important attributes of good leadership, they also reflected a constant desire to balance these approaches with decisiveness. When women failed to make difficult decisions, or were uncomfortable justifying or standing by their decisions, they regarded this as a weakness in leadership.
One frequently mentioned problem was women’s tendency to want to “be liked” in the workplace, a trait not commonly associated with men. Some women admitted that they struggled with this as they learned to make corrections and direct people as leaders. As one former ambassador observed: “Women need to get over the embarrassment of being bossy. Make a decision and stand by it. Do not be embarrassed to do it. Guys don’t care if people don’t like them. Women want to be liked and need to get over that.”57 Many highlighted this as a major problem for women that could impede their ability to move from consensus-building to decision-making, especially in cases where the decisions might be controversial.
“Good management means taking input from your team, but then you still need to make a decision.” — Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense58
Women also pointed to a double standard with regard to displaying emotion in the workplace. Again, women perceived this trait as a characteristic that reflected badly on credibility and professionalism. Many women pointed to model examples of women leaders who exhibited non-emotional, calm, and professional behavior. In contrast, women in this study cited women leaders who were “overly emotional” as weak and ineffective in their leadership.
The struggle to balance between these gender stereotypes is not necessarily specific to international security or to the government sector. Significant research has been done on this issue, especially in the corporate sector. In one study completed by Catalyst, over 1,000 senior executives were interviewed about leadership styles. The Catalyst study found that women who acted in ways that appeared “feminine” were considered less competent, but those who acted with more “male” qualities were viewed as too tough.59 Many women interviewed by WIIS categorized women in leadership according to whether they were more “male” or more “female” in approach, some observing that one or the other dominant approach emerges among women in senior ranks of government. Clearly, in the government sector, the struggle for this balance continues to be a major consideration for women who are advancing through the ranks.
Overall, women have experienced both good and bad leadership examples by both men and women throughout their careers. Women, however, seemed to be particularly reflective and perhaps in some cases judgmental about how other women have behaved in decision-making positions. Women were also more sensitive to what they perceived as unsupportive behavior by women who had supervised them. Women cited common approaches of both good and bad leaders. Women learned important lessons through their negative experiences, especially with those in positions of authority who failed to develop and support their staff members’ career advancements. In all cases, women highlighted the importance of being valued in the institution and supported in their professional growth and development as leaders.
“Good management means taking input from your team, but then you still need to make a decision.”
— Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Promote Leadership Development for Women ➤ Demonstrate a strong commitment at the Cabinet level to creating workplaces that allow talented women to rise in level and responsibility . ➤ Highlight as role models successful female leaders and offices that support women . ➤ Reward women who exhibit excellence in leadership at all levels through promotion and other workplace opportunities . ➤ Identify and promote women to the director level or equivalent in government offices so that they gain important management experience for higher levels . Give mid-level women increasing management responsibilities . ➤ Ensure that each department/agency has a formal policy commitment to gender diversity, that these policies are accompanied by specific objectives and strategies, and that leaders prioritize their full and timely implementation . ➤ Ensure diverse representation, including gender balance, on committees that select candidates for senior-level ranks, such as the Senior Executive Service and the Senior Foreign Service, and positions such as ambassadorships and mid-to-senior level management positions . ➤ Set target numbers of female candidates for senior leadership appointments, and regularly evaluate progress towards those targets . ➤ Encourage women in government to take on active roles in agency affinity groups and outside organizations to gain leadership experience, and consider this experience as a relevant factor when selecting candidates for positions and promotions . ➤ Establish programs that identify and recruit women with demonstrated leadership skills from the private, non-profit, and multilateral sectors into government .
part three learning leadership
mentoring and Training the pipeline of Women
Mentoring: the Power of Personal relationships in career advancement
Every woman interviewed for this study, regardless of agency or level, emphasized the importance of mentoring for career success in the federal sector. Successful women pointed to mentors within the system who had supported and advocated for their career progression. Most often these relationships were built on trust and confidence in the mentees’ work ethic and capability. Not surprisingly, in the majority of cases, mentors were current or former supervisors or others in senior-level positions who worked with the mentees directly. In almost all cases, women in government considered mentors as those in more senior-level positions. However, in some interviews, women acknowledged that mentoring does not necessarily have to be based on hierarchy. A former Under Secretary of State defined her mentors as peers, bosses, people she trusted, and family members. Women expressed that they could benefit from mentor and mentee relationships at every career stage.
Mentorships and Sponsorship
Women in this study who had experience in the corporate sector60 made a distinction between the terms “mentors” and “sponsors.” Sponsors were defined as influential mentors who not only offer advice, but also advocate on behalf of their mentees, opening the doors to advancement opportunities. Women in the government sector did not necessarily use the same terminology, but did indicate a difference between a mentor who provides some general advice and a mentor who is willing to groom talent, identify opportunities, and advocate strongly with peers and colleagues to open doors for the mentee.
In almost all cases, after women had entered government agencies, they relied on key personal connections and direct recommendations of their mentors or
“As a woman, a mentor can help get opportunities for you that you may not be able to get on your own. It gives you the chance to show what you can do.”
— Former Assistant
Secretary, Department of Defense
sponsors to land subsequent positions. Although younger women in this study repeatedly cited the importance of learning from other women’s experiences, the more proactive form of sponsoring-mentoring was a vital key to identifying, competing for, and obtaining positions at higher levels in government agencies. One senior-level woman reflected on this, saying that she has utilized her connections to help her staff members find their next positions, stressing the importance of the personal networks of mentors.61
This finding also appears to parallel women’s experiences in the intelligence sector. In a 2008 study of women in the Senior Intelligence Service, women identified the primary factor for success in the intelligence community as “having an advocate who served as a mentor/sponsor, breaking down barriers and obstacles and providing opportunities for career progression.”62
“As a woman, a mentor can help get opportunities for you that you may not be able to get on your own. It gives you the chance to show what you can do.” — Former Assistant Secretary, Department of Defense63
Male and Female Mentoring
Women in this study did not show a preference for female mentoring. In almost all cases, interviewees said that it did not matter whether mentors are male or female. Women at all levels cited men who had been essential supporters throughout their careers. In fact, the majority of women who reached senior-level government leadership positions during the 1980’s and 1990’s pointed out that their mentors had been men. These women cited the absence of other women in leadership positions as the main reason for this trend, as women were few among the cohort of managers, supervisors, and peers in these agencies. But the same has been true for a younger group of women who have more recently achieved senior-level positions in male-dominated agencies and substantive areas, including the defense, intelligence, and law enforcement sectors. Women in these sectors often found that they were the only women at the table, and that few women were available for support throughout their careers. In other cases, some mid-level women reported that they have specifically sought out male mentors, because they perceive that men more often serve at the senior-levels and are better positioned to assist with career advancement. This finding was particularly highlighted at DHS, which female employees viewed as a male-dominated environment.
Senior-level women in this study have been mentoring both men and women. Although the majority of interviewees reported that they have not focused their mentoring on women exclusively, many expressed that they make a special effort to support other women. In many cases, women described their particular efforts to mentor other women, citing common experiences and challenges that women encounter in the workplace. One woman who served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary
at DOS said, “It is important to support the cultivation of women as they move up in jobs.”64 Another senior-level woman from the intelligence sector pointed to the desire to help the next generation of women coming up: “[w]e want to help them miss the potholes we stumbled in.”65 In some cases, women with children cited their experiences in helping other women navigate career paths and decisions in consideration of family demands.
Among younger women, there was no particular consensus across agencies on whether women are more or less supportive of other women. For example, interviewees pointed out that some women in senior ranks are less supportive of women than men on their staffs. Interviewees often attributed this to these women feeling insecure, threatened, and competitive with other women. Junior and midlevel women, as well as incoming senior-level women, expressed that the constant pressures that the previous generations of women leaders experienced may have negatively affected their willingness to mentor their female subordinates. Both retired and current senior-level women acknowledged these problems. Some women who entered government in the 1970s and 1980s described a “tough,” “rough,” or “pushing hard” approach by those women who did mentor others.66 Interviewees observed that women overall have improved at mentoring from the previous generations. Some expressed the view that younger generations of women, including those now in senior positions, are more inclined to mentor other women.
In a few cases, however, mid-level women cited a “kiss up, kick down” approach to advancement by female peers. Mid-level women who had been working on high profile portfolios, especially among some in the DOS, highlighted this experience. Interviewees expressed that the approach has often been more noticeable and disappointing when done by women, especially in cases where the “kick down” behavior is directed at other women. As one mid-level woman observed, “Reputation depends on your peers too. A big part of mentoring is knowing that and becoming a mentor to those below you.”67
In contrast to these negative experiences, women in this study generally emphasized the supportive dynamic among women peers. Women in the Office of the Secretary of Defense described the collegial and supportive atmosphere among women working in the policy area. Interviewees in USAID also spoke of an environment focused on teambuilding where “women try to help other women.” 68
Mentoring approaches and Lessons for Women’s Leadership
Women in this study repeatedly highlighted the role of mentors in exposing them to new responsibilities, directions, and opportunities. The most frequently mentioned assistance that mentors offered women in this sector was an understanding of bureaucratic structures, processes, and players. The ability to navigate the inner workings of government agencies is vital for success in this profession.
“Mentors see something new in you that you don’t see in yourself.”
— Principal Deputy
Mentors recognized the strengths and skills of their employees, and female mentees were given responsibilities that allowed them to build their expertise and reputation. One former ambassador recalled the first paper she wrote as a young Foreign Service officer. Her supervisor/mentor gave her constructive, candid guidance on how to improve and tailor her writing for a government audience, which then enabled her to succeed in this fundamental skill. Another former ambassador gave the example of mentors in the Foreign Service who explained how the system worked, how to operate, and who to know in order to do the job effectively and advance. One former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense observed, “Mentors show you how to get things done and how to deal with adversity.”69 Mentors played an essential role in helping women survive and excel in difficult bureaucratic environments and eventually reach leadership positions themselves.
“Mentors see something new in you that you don’t see in yourself.” — Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Defense70
Often, mentors took the extra time and effort to encourage their female mentees to take on challenges that they may not otherwise have pursued, and interviewees pointed to the important role of mentoring in building self-confidence. In one particular case, an interviewee described how her mentor encouraged her toward a career opportunity after she had decided to decline. She recalled that this position was helpful for her subsequent career growth, but she would have self-selected out of it without the mentor. Interviewees frequently talked about mentors leading by example and how much they learned from observing effective mentors. In particular, women paid close attention to the examples of women in more senior positions. One woman recalled female ambassadors who she considered as strong role models, highlighting that they were “generous with career opportunities” as mentors.71
Formal Mentoring Programs: Unmet needs
Given the value of mentoring in cultivating women’s careers, it is surprising to note that many government agencies have not formally established mentoring programs. The DOS has a formal mentoring program for both Foreign Service and Civil Service employees. Although some women found the matching process for the civil service program to be cumbersome and time consuming, women in this study had a positive view about both the programs and the support offered by the mentors. The Presidential Management Fellowship Program (PMF),72 one of the most common ways that women in this study entered the federal government, has a formal mentoring program in the agencies where PMF’s are placed. Women who participated in the PMF program pointed to the mentoring program as a valuable resource.
Despite the success of the PMF program, this study found that in many of these agencies, there are no structured programs available for those who enter the system through alternative routes. For example, in OSD, non-PMF recruits have no available mentoring program, although there are mentoring programs in other components of DOD, such as in the Defense Intelligence Agency. One woman who had entered OSD by working for a defense contracting company observed, “[t]he PMF world is great, but if you’re not in there, you’re on your own.”73 USAID has established a mentoring program. Some agencies, such as Department of Energy, have recently launched pilot mentoring programs.
Overwhelmingly, women in this study identified the lack of formal mentoring programs as a major gap in the professional support offered by government agencies. Organizations need to ensure that people are set up for success as they move into more complex positions, and women expressed that the expansion and availability of such mentoring programs would improve the cultivation of emerging women leaders in the government. Without such resources in place, the majority of interviewees have creatively sought out ways to informally build those key mentoring relationships.
Build a Culture of Mentorship Among Women ➤ Ensure that formal mentoring programs are established in all departments and agencies to target the different needs of entry, mid and senior level women . Ensure that every new hire is matched with a mentor, and that there are ongoing mentoring opportunities at each stage of career progression . Encourage both vertical and lateral mentoring at all levels . ➤ Create mentoring opportunities that support the needs of mid-level women by matching them with senior-level women and men who can guide them into leadership roles . ➤ Establish creative mentoring models . For example, coordinate regular fora that allow mid and senior-level women to share wisdom with younger women . Consider a short-term mentoring model which allows a mentee to call upon a mentor for advice on a particular, time-bound problem . ➤ Recognize the vital importance of informal mentoring for women, and support the development of these relationships, especially for mid-level women .
the Emergence of U.S. Government agency affinity Groups A number of affinity groups have emerged within government agencies to support networking, mentoring, and professional development opportunities . Often, employees themselves have established these groups, perhaps in many cases to meet specific needs, such as mentoring, that are not fully provided for institutionally . Not all of these groups focus on women, but mid- to senior-level women in this study highlighted involvement in these groups as a mechanism to gain important leadership skills, increase their visibility within the departments, and advocate for more support for advancement opportunities . Department of State ExECUTIvE WOMEN AT STATE (EW@S) In 2008, this group began as an informal organization at the Department of State that brings senior executive women together to promote, support, and mentor women for senior leadership positions in the State Department . The EW@S steering committee meets regularly with the Office of Civil Rights to review the status of career women executives in the Department of State and to seek fair and equal opportunity . The group sponsors programs in the State Department with guest speakers who discuss topics of an educational nature or which highlight contributions of outstanding women . Women who are at the following levels can join the group: ➤ Foreign Service women with a grade of FS-01 and above ➤ Civil Service women with a grade of GS-15 and above ➤ When Actually Employed (WAEs)74 or contractors who previously held equivalent rank ➤ Political appointees (equivalent to GS-15 and above) ➤ Guests of any of the above . Women in this study also mentioned their involvement in the following groups that do not focus exclusively on women but provide opportunities for building the pipeline of young leaders . yOUNG PROFESSIONALS SOCIETy (y-PRO) The State Department young Professionals Society (y-Pro) is an innovative professional and social organization for entry and mid-level employees new to the U .S . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
Department of State or USAID . Established in 2003, y-Pro aims to form a sense of continuity in a dynamic workforce by establishing a long-term network of tomorrow’s foreign affairs leaders . The objectives of the group are to facilitate the sharing of information about the work and activities of the Department of State, provide a cohesive and representative voice to the Department’s administration on issues that concern members, and link members with other organizations both inside and outside the Department . y-Pro has been working with Executive Women at State to establish a sub- group for mid-level career women aspiring to reach the executive level and a second group for entry-level women just starting at the department . Preparations were being made to launch these two new groups in Fall 2009 . Department of Defense WOMEN IN POLICy GROUP: Mid-senior level women working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense took the initiative to establish an informal group as a discussion forum, leadership, and networking opportunity for women working in DOD . This group organizes brown bag meetings and speakers, and is planning future mentoring and professional development activities . Although the group is not an official entity of DOD, senior level women have participated in its meetings and have indicated their support for the initiative .
Preparing Emerging Leaders: the training Gap in Government
Training and leadership opportunities play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of leaders in government. Many other professional sectors have identified investment in professional development and leadership training as a best practice. Individuals interviewed for this study overwhelmingly emphasized the importance of such resources and training opportunities for improvements in the quality of work, behavior, and communication with peers, staff, and superiors. Regardless of agency, however, women felt that the civilian sector fell significantly short of the need and demand for investing into leadership training.
Resources on professional development and leadership training remain unevenly dispersed across federal agencies, and individual employees have found it difficult to gain access and entry to these opportunities. For the most part, employees must take the initiative to research available opportunities and eligibility. Many women in this study, particularly at the State Department, stated that training was not treated as a natural part of their career experience or highly valued.
The funding realities in these agencies have had a direct impact on the availability and development of training programs. When resources become limited, training appears to be one of the first areas to be reduced or eliminated. For example, under Secretary of State Colin Powell’s leadership, the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI) created over 1,000 new Foreign Service hires in the 2001–2004 period with opportunities for training. These positions and resources, however, were absorbed by the surges in Iraq and Afghanistan and surrounding nations. In addition, with staffing shortfalls and funding cuts, employees have been unable to take full advantage of existing training opportunities, as each training assignment would leave that position unstaffed.75
Many women in this study pointed out that they have experienced significant pressure not to take time away from the office to pursue training opportunities. For younger women in the civil service, in particular, the ability to participate in these programs has largely been dependent on the support of their supervisors and the specific office culture. The majority of the women included in this study emphasized that training for civilians should occur at an earlier stage in the career progression, as most only receive leadership training once they have already been promoted to a managerial position.76
U.S. Government Leadership and Professional development training Programs
Participants in this study cited a number of professional development training programs in the federal government. The following is a list of those programs that were mentioned in interviews and discussions for the study, but may not include all available programs.
➤ THE FOREIGN SERvICE INSTITUTE (FSI)
FSI is the Federal Government’s primary training institution for officers and support personnel of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats and other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington. At the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, the FSI provides more than 450 courses — including some 70 foreign languages—to more than 50,000 enrollees a year from the State Department and more than 40 other government agencies and the military service branches. Webpage: http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/
As the federal government reorganized and revised existing programs and policies in response the Clinton administration’s “Reinventing Government” initiative, the Foreign Service Institute introduced distance learning and computer-based training with a new School of Applied Information Technology to meet the growing need for staff trained in this area. It also added new ca-
reer resources and support for federal employees, such as Career Transition Center and a Leadership and Management School to train future policymakers and managers.
➤ SENIOR ExECUTIvE SERvICE (SES) ExECUTIvE DEvELOPMENT
The Senior Executive Service (SES) includes most managerial, supervisory, and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) grade 15 or equivalent positions in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Federal agencies are required by law (Title 5, U.S. Code, Section 3396) to establish programs for the continuing development of senior executives. The Senior Executive Service is committed to developing leaders in the 21st century. One way to become an SES is to participate in a SES Candidate Development Program (SESCDP). These programs are designed to create pools of qualified candidates for SES positions. All SESCDPs address the five ECQs that embody the leadership skills needed to succeed in the SES.77 Website: http://www.opm.gov/ses/ executive_development/index.asp
➤ DOD CIvILIAN LEADERSHIP DEvELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES78
The DOD Civilian Leader Development webpage provides information on the DoD Civilian Leader Development Framework and Continuum, which are the blueprint for the deliberate development of the next generation of civilian leaders throughout the Department. Website: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/lpdd/ cldf/Framework_and_Continuum.aspx
➤ NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIvERSITy (NDU)
The National Defense University is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The University’s main campus is on Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. The Joint Forces Staff College is located in Norfolk, VA. Website: http://www.ndu.edu/index1.cfm
Develop the Next Generation of Women Leaders ➤ Develop government wide lessons learned, models, and innovative programs to support women’s advancement opportunities . Call upon the private and non-profit sectors to share insights and identify best practices . Compile and circulate best practices among agencies and ensure that they are incorporated into personnel and management policies . ➤ Capitalize on current interest in government service . Expand programs that encourage women and minorities to pursue foreign policy and national security careers and to gain experience in the government . Increase the number of interns and fellows to enable more young women to gain government work experience . ➤ Expand rotation programs within departments, among agencies, and with outside organizations to enable women to build expertise and key relationships . These programs will benefit all government employees . ➤ Encourage participation in activities and groups inside and outside agencies that provide leadership, mentoring, and networking opportunities . ➤ Invest more resources in designing and providing training programs for women at all stages of their careers . Offer leadership and management training for junior women in government, well before they reach SES or take on management/supervisory roles . ➤ Call upon experienced women who have worked in foreign policy/national security positions in government to train other women . Encourage women with military experience to help develop and run leadership training for civilians . ➤ Offer training topics that incorporate issues that women have identified as important, such as building credibility and visibility, developing a leadership style and approach, overcoming gender stereotypes, balancing inclusiveness and decisiveness, building mentoring relationships and strengthening communications skills . ➤ Ensure that managers support their employees taking time away from the office to participate in training programs and that senior leadership understands the value of professional development for women’s advancement . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
➤ Improve information gathering on women in the government workforce to identify gaps in representation and develop strategies to improve opportunities for women . For example: Track recruitment, retention, and promotions of women in government agencies by both professional grade and type of position . Document reasons that women leave foreign policy/national security positions and incorporate what is learned into retention efforts .Develop evaluation and monitoring mechanisms to analyze progress in increasing women’s participation in government positions .
The lingering QuesTion
is Work-life balance possible for Women leaders?
The expectations and definitions of work-life balance in national security government positions varied widely among the women who were interviewed for this study. Some women generally defined balance in terms of being able to successfully manage career and family responsibilities, emphasizing their own time management and available alternative work options. Other women defined balance in broader terms, pointing to office culture and acceptance of diversity in backgrounds and lifestyle choices.
Overall, women believed that a trade-off occurs between professional and personal success, and that most individuals have to make choices between the two. Women at all levels reflected a view that work-life balance remains a very personal issue and that there is no one right way to approach it. Many senior-level women said that they had made personal choices to focus on their careers. Among this group, some expressed regret at not having spent more time on family life. Women believed that they face unique challenges when it comes to work-life balance, and that women have additional responsibilities in their personal lives compared with male counterparts. As one former ambassador observed, “Women need to recognize early that it will never be a 50-50 balance with your spouse. It’s worth the effort, but it’s up to you to figure out how to do it.”79
Work-Life challenges and choices in Leadership Positions
The majority of retired and senior-level women interviewed for this study commonly expressed that they were unable to achieve their definition of work-life balance. Interviewees emphasized that the national security field poses particular challenges for women, in part because of the often-pressing nature of the work. Women who attained senior-level positions in the 1980’s and 1990’s generally expressed skepticism that demanding policy jobs could be done while balancing family responsibilities. Some felt that it would have been impossible to be considered for senior-level positions at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level or higher without demonstrating a 24/7 commitment to the job, and remarked that certain policy jobs just cannot be done on a part-time basis. Women cited the incredible hours that are required for some of these positions, particularly at the senior levels.
Other women believed it could be possible to advance to the highest levels of government while balancing a family life, even though they themselves were unable to achieve it. One woman who served at the Under Secretary level believed that her own focus on work-life balance contributed to her ability to do her jobs well. She explained that even when she had served at the Under Secretary level, she was able to manage her schedule to prioritize family responsibilities at designated times. She acknowledged that such positions require a lot of invitations, travel, and meetings, but emphasized the importance of “preserving time for oneself.”80
Another senior-level woman at DOS commented, “[i]t is hard, but it can be done. A lot depends on the specific demands. Work can be done at home on evenings and weekends.”81 Another woman who served in a top USAID position commented, “[y]ou can have work-life balance. Absolutely.” She recognized that “in times of crisis, you definitely have to be on deck,” but that others on the team would also step in during those times in the Foreign Service environment. She asserted that a particular individual is not always needed in the office to handle every crisis.82 In addition, some women emphasized that high-level government positions, particularly political assignments, are for a designated period of time, and that when not serving in those types of positions, women may be able to achieve more balance.83
During interviews, women noted that senior-level women leaders were often single, unmarried, divorced, or did not have children. Many women without children who reached senior-level government positions believed that they could not have achieved the same career accomplishments if they had had children. There was a strong perception among some interviewees that women had to choose between career and family in many cases, and prioritizing family had real costs in terms of career progression.
A striking number of senior-level women made choices at one or more points in their careers that valued family and children’s priorities over advancement. One woman who served in the National Security Council and other agencies commented that having a child had been a turning point for her, as she could not take promotions that had been offered at that time.84 Others noted decisions made in favor of rejoining a spouse if overseas, or caring for an elderly parent. In one case, a former ambassador commented that she had been separated from her husband for eight years while overseas, and that she needed to return to Washington to be with her spouse. In another instance, a former ambassador was offered an important position in Africa, but her husband was unable to get his medical clearance, so she turned it down. Women in this study reflected a sense that these personal considerations often cause women to miss opportunities to develop their careers, or prompt them to leave government service altogether.85
Generational change, new Perspectives, and institutional improvements
Women perceived that work-life balance options have improved over the past two decades and that institutional cultures are shifting for the better. In addition, arrangements have become available to gain flexibility in work hours. Equal employment opportunity and family-friendly initiatives seemed to have played a large role in decreasing the stress on managing family time. Specifically, women pointed to part-time, flexible time, telecommuting, and on-site child-care options as crucial benefits. In addition, women referenced the importance of legal changes, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, which enables individuals to leave work without taking sick days to take care of children or dependents who are ill.86 At all departments in this study, interviewees cited examples of colleagues who benefited from these available arrangements.
Retired women pointed out that part-time options were not available to them when they were employed in these agencies. Women who worked in policy positions during the 1970s and 1980s emphasized that women who had children quickly returned to full time schedules. One interviewee gave the example of a woman who served in the NSC during the 1970s who gave birth on a Friday and returned to work on the following Monday.87 Some women stated that women feared professional repercussions for taking time off for maternity leave. Others left these positions and in many cases, government service, when they had children, due to the lack of available arrangements. For example, OSD did not allow part-time employment until the late 1980s. Similarly, some women who were appointed to senior levels more recently commented that because the senior-level women ahead of them often left policy jobs when they had children, there exists “no clear path” for charting out arrangements that accommodate family responsibilities.88
In contrast to the experiences of previous generations, senior-level women observed that today cutting back on hours or stepping out of highly demanding job environments for a period of time does not necessarily have a negative effect on career advancement. One former senior-level official in OSD spoke of the first woman to take a part-time option in policy and reflected that her choice had not hurt that woman’s career at all. In this case, she described the woman having been “three times better than everyone else,” which added to her success in that alternative arrangement.89
Women who work at the NSC and other agencies pointed out contemporary examples of women taking weeks or months for maternity leave in these highly demanding positions. One interviewee in DOD spoke of a female staff member who continues to receive offers for promotions, but passes on these offers due to her current family considerations. In spite of these missed opportunities, the interviewee felt certain that the leadership in DOD would promote this woman when she was ready to accept the promotion. She observed that for the younger generation of women, these personal decisions might delay advancement but “probably do not hurt good female employees.”90
Even with institutional and cultural changes, women with children in particular continue to face huge challenges in fulfilling their responsibilities in both work environments and at home. Many struggle to juggle these responsibilities. Women who recently accepted senior-level positions in agencies, especially those with school-age children, expressed continuing anxiety over work-life balance. The women felt torn between the needs of their children and jobs that require a certain amount of time on-site, in the office. Women in these positions stated that the ongoing challenges of achieving satisfaction both at work and in the home have yet to be solved.
Parental Leave Policy for U.S. Government Employeesthe Family and Medical Leave act of 1993 (FMLa) entitles most Federal employees to take up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for the following: ➤ the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter; ➤ the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care; ➤ the care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or a serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions . The FMLA also allows employees to substitute annual and/or sick leave for any unpaid leave . FMLA leave is in addition to other paid time off available to an employee .91 The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave act (h.r. 626) would entitle federal employees to substitute any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for either the: ➤ birth of a child; or ➤ placement of a child with the employee for either adoption or foster care . Specifically, it would allow employees to take four weeks of paid leave for the above purposes and any accumulated annual or sick leave . The bill was passed in the House of Representatives in June 2009 .92
the realities of Striking a Balance: remaining institutional and cultural challenges
While the government has made progress toward promoting respect for work-life balance, these arrangements have yet to be institutionalized across all the departments. Generally, women must establish a track record of performance within their agencies and leverage their accomplishments and knowledge to “make the case” to supervisors in order to take advantage of available flexible arrangements. One woman in a job share situation93 observed that the leadership supported her parttime arrangement because they recognized that she was worth keeping on staff. This study found that in several cases, the information and procedures on how to utilize available arrangements were not readily available to women. In addition, women were unable to access information on other employees who were successfully benefiting from these arrangements. Many noted that the creation of such a network would allow information sharing on how to successfully benefit from work-life balance options.
Women in this study also revealed that personnel offices did not always know how to establish the available work-life arrangements. One woman who negotiated a job share in OSD pioneered the arrangement because the personnel office had never done the paperwork before. And while women have creatively sought out ad hoc arrangements, interviewees also highlighted that the lack of a centralized place to find job sharing positions hindered their ability to use the option. Women who are benefiting from job share, part-time, or flexible schedules perceived that the arrangements are precarious and largely dependent on the support of current leadership. Some women expressed concern that individual incoming political appointees often have the option of discontinuing particular arrangements for specific positions.
Some women also pointed out that even with part-time status, in many cases “the expectations remain the same.” Therefore, women have worked well beyond their “official” part-time employment to fulfill expectations for the work. According to an SES woman in DOD with part-time experience, “[o]ne of the problems with part-time at the SES level is that you take a pay cut but end up working a lot more than you get paid. But it does give you the ability to say you need to leave at a certain time and not feel as if you are not carrying your own weight.”94
Part-time positions are critical to retaining women in government service who want to raise children. Yet there are still few meaningful part-time positions, especially in the policy area. Many senior-level women cited this as the primary challenge for retaining female mid-level career officers. With so few attractive part-time positions, many women have been forced to choose between raising their children and continuing with their careers in government. Women look to other related sectors for more flexibility, and many leave for employment in the nongovernmental arena, non-profit sector, or in private industry.
As one interviewee observed, “Many women dropped out from the time I was in PMI95 for family reasons. Women fall out under the pressures.”96 Some women who had moved from government to the corporate or non-profit sectors experienced a stark difference in terms of the flexibility that is available in those sectors. As one woman who is now a vice president in a major consulting firm but previously served in the intelligence community said, “In the U.S. Government, you don’t have the flexibility. If you are not in the office and visible, people don’t think you are doing your job. The corporate sector is better than government in this regard. You have more flexibility in terms of telecommuting.”97 The drain of these qualified women out of government carries lasting repercussions, as women find it nearly impossible to return to government service later in their careers (unless by political appointment).
One woman emphasized that it is necessary to “create a culture where people feel they have access to federal services and making it clear that those things are not just there on paper.”98
“Women are being handed this idea that you could get there early and work through lunch and you’ll be able to advance. But in the State Department culture staying late is what matters most. And frankly your children should be in bed by 8 or 9. So it is really difficult.” — Former female ambassador99
Mid- and senior-level women in this study repeatedly cited another major structural problem for work-life balance: the outdated maternity and paternity leave policy. Interviewees revealed that the majority of women in government used their accrued vacation leave and/or unpaid leave period to take time off from work to have their children. This finding was echoed across all the agencies within the scope of this study, and the need for an improved maternity and paternity policy was a key recommendation that emerged repeatedly from the interviews.100
There was a sense that work-life balance is no longer exclusively a “women’s issue,” as more men have also begun trying to achieve a balance with their personal lives. In several government agencies, interviewees pointed out that men were also seeking job shares and part-time arrangements. In their personal lives, senior-level women in this study attributed the contributions of a supportive husband or family structure in helping them achieve success in balancing family needs with work requirements. “Having a supportive spouse was very important,” according to one senior-level defense official.101 “Carving out time to attend to children was difficult but we managed to do it. My husband was also a FSO and was very supportive,” said one senior-level DOS Foreign Service Officer.102
Yet, women acknowledged that a disproportionate burden continues to fall on women regarding family and child-rearing responsibilities. Many women expressed that despite institutional and societal changes, real change would not occur until men as a whole took the same level of ownership regarding the challenges of work-life balance. As one senior-level career officer in DOD stated,
“The work-life balance issues are not necessarily something that men have to deal with as much as women — some of that is changing as I see with men in my office — but there is still less pressure on men. If the crunch happens, men are still more likely to blow off the family obligations.”103
Some women described the Foreign Service as a particular working environment that requires total dedication. Women in this study reported that the Foreign Service was structured for men who have stay-at-home wives. Many interviewees highlighted that many women in the Foreign Service (both State and USAID) never married or are divorced. For those who did marry, women stated that they often found it challenging to bring their spouses overseas.
Susan Crais Hovanec, a retired Foreign Service officer, wrote, “[I] am convinced that the need for spouses of Foreign Service personnel to have careers and incomes of their own…is a major factor contributing to the higher resignation rates and early retirements of female officers.”104 Ms. Hovanec, along with many women interviewed by WIIS, observed that this tension disproportionately affected female Foreign Service Officers, as male spouses seemed less willing to follow the career progression of their wives. According to one interviewee at State Department, “Accompany husbands are few and far between.”105
Another retired former ambassador observed the difficulties with dual career couples, “[i]f you have tandem careers, one person’s career always gets sacrificed. Some stayed, others left under the pressure of maintaining everything.”106 Another retired former ambassador who was married to a fellow Foreign Service Officer reflected that State Department did help to arrange tandem arrangements, but most of the work-life balance maneuvering was left to the individuals to figure out.107 Overall, women who had served in the Foreign Service emphasized that keeping couples together remains an important priority for women’s retention.
In some cases, however, Foreign Service officers indicated that overseas posts allowed them to have greater resources and opportunities to tend to their personal and family obligations. Some women with Foreign Service careers felt that it was easier to balance work and family overseas than in Washington due to the built-in expatriate community of support and household and child care help in overseas posts.
Many Foreign Service officers at various levels cited the increase in unaccompanied posts108 as a major problem for women. Interviewees felt that the prevalence of unaccompanied posts would make it very difficult for the State Department to retain women who have or plan to have families. One former ambassador who had served in the Foreign Service her entire career said that she brought her family to all of her posts, even hardship posts and “it would have been a deal breaker” if she hadn’t been allowed to do this.109
Of all the agencies surveyed, USAID received the most positive remarks on work-life balance. USAID women cited that the office culture did not emphasize hierarchy nor put excessive demands on individuals to “pay their dues” by staying lengthy hours in the office. USAID administrators have also supported female staff by increasing the quality of nursing stations, establishing on-site childcare services, and providing flexible arrangements. One senior-level USAID woman stated, “as long as the demands of the work were met, there was no need to spend additional hours in the office.”110 This contrasted with the experiences of women in the other agencies.
Government Work-Life Program highlights111Workplace Flexibility ➤ Alternative Work Schedules Part-Time Work and Job SharingTelework ➤ Leave Programs Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Family ➤ Child Care and Child Care Subsidy Program ➤ Federal Child Care Centers112 ➤ Elder/Adult Dependent Care ➤ Leave for Family Purposes Source: http://opm .gov/Employment_and_Benefits/worklife/
For the Civil Service, work-life balance programs are enforced by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and usually entail such arrangements as telecommuting, flexible time, maternity and paternity leave, and on-site childcare facilities, among other options and resources. Since President Obama has taken office, he has called on employers to provide better options for establishing work-life balance programs.113
As referenced earlier in this report, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has drafted a government-wide strategic plan with four strategic goals to be implemented in 2010-2015. The draft Strategic Plan specifically commits the U.S. Government to “[p]rovide the training, benefits, and work-life balance necessary for Federal employees to succeed, prosper, and advance in their careers.”114
In addition, a 2008 survey of chief capital offers across federal agencies reported that “ninety percent agree that alternative work schedules are a useful tool to a ‘great or very great extent’ for attracting and retaining talent, and over half would add telework to that list of especially useful tools.”115
Balancing From the top: the Powerful Example of Government Leaders
Many women in this study stated that their direct leadership played the most significant role in setting the tone for whether work-life balance was accepted in their offices. Both male and female leaders who themselves prioritized work-life balance encouraged their staff to do the same. For example, one woman reflected on her time working in the NSC for a supervisor who encouraged her to leave at a reasonable hour whenever possible.116 On the other hand, interviewees struggled to make these personal choices when office leaders did not prioritize balance in their own lives and expected the staff to work unreasonable hours.
Interviewees looked to women who have recently taken on senior-level policy positions in the government as contributing to a cultural shift toward respect for work-life balance. Many of these new leaders have had previous government experience, and have returned to influential positions after having stepped out for a time to work in think tanks or academia (with more flexibility to be with their families). For example, a woman who previously had a part-time job share arrangement at the SES level was recently appointed to a deputy assistant secretary level. Women have already begun to identify these new leaders as important role models.
Women at all levels expressed hope that having women with school-age c hildren in high profile positions would result in more support for work-life balance in the government. In at least one case, a woman with previous government service who had left to spend more time with her children had accepted a senior-level DOD policy position under the current Administration. She cited Michèle Flournoy, the current Under Secretary for Defense for Policy, as a leading model for achieving professional success with young children at home, as well as a reason for accepting the senior-level DOD position. In fact, with the recent increase in women in leadership roles in OSD, many cited Flournoy as an example of how to maintain a family life with a demanding position. As one female Deputy Assistant Secretary in OSD commented: “Michèle sets a command climate of efficiency. Part of that is forcing yourself to leave and go home. It’s about injecting balance in the life cycle.”117 This study found that senior-level women in OSD with children are setting this trend by demonstrating balance in their own schedules.
Younger women expressed optimism about the possibilities for work-life balance in their future careers, though the degree of interest in this area varied as some were facing these decisions more immediately than others. As with the previous generations, this younger cohort of women has made a commitment to prioritize their government service, and many have yet to experience family responsibilities. That said, women are clearly looking to senior-level women to observe how they balance these priorities, to ask for advice, and to see if the increase in women at the senior-levels of government will bring about changes in policy environments.
Work-life balance issues continue to present unique challenges to women who are rising through the ranks of government in international security. Women still remain conflicted about satisfying the needs of both work and family on a daily basis. There is no consensus among women about whether work-life balance is indeed possible in government positions, especially at the senior-levels. There have certainly been both institutional and cultural improvements in the way that worklife balance has been promoted and supported within government agencies, even in the demanding policy arena. With more women with young children and family obligations now assuming leadership positions, it remains to be seen whether these role models will significantly affect the continuing pressures to be visible, present in the office, and working long hours in many of these agencies.
Support Work-life Balance and Keep Women on the Leadership Track ➤ Recognize work-life balance is not just a “women’s issue” and that it is relevant for all employees, including those with and without children, and those who are responsible for elder care of family members . ➤ Ensure that formal mechanisms exist to support the increasing demand for flexible work options . For example: Institutionalize alternative working arrangements in departments, including flex time and telecommuting .Develop a roster of employees who are currently utilizing flex options or have in the past to be available for those who are setting up these arrangements .Ensure that all agencies and offices, down to the lowest management level, have information available on how to establish flexible work arrangements, within the U .S . and overseas . Specify the availability of part-time or job share options in job postings .Respond to demand for part-time positions and job shares for foreign policy/national security portfolios . Develop creative models that provide full coverage for these portfolios but maintain a manageable work schedule for employees . Establish a lessons-learned website or blog where employees can compare their experiences with flexible work options, discuss challenges, and share successful strategies . ➤ Recognize and support family needs by providing paid maternity and paternity leave for the full period allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act, and ensure access to childcare facilities on-site or proximate to the workplace . CONTINUED ON NExT PAGE
Establish an office culture that supports work-life balance . Highlight those leaders who set a positive work-life example, and provide opportunities for leaders to share strategies with younger women, especially at the mid-level . Incorporate accountability and incentive mechanisms for managers to support work-life balance needs of all employees .
Recognize the importance of flexible career paths for women . Create mechanisms that allow government employees to leave federal service for a fixed period of time and readily return into the system at an equal or higher level .
Devote adequate resources for agencies to provide flexible work arrangements, and to create work environments that allow women in leadership roles to do their jobs and care for their families .
The expansion of the international security field over the past several decades has created new career opportunities in the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. At the same time, there has been increasing recognition that the U.S. Government benefits from a diverse workforce, including women, at all levels. Recruiting and retaining talent in government service has become even more vital in the face of large numbers of retirements. Yet, information on women’s participation in government remains limited in the specific sector of international security, and data and women’s perspectives have not previously been systematically analyzed to determine the realities of women’s experiences and opportunities in this area.
This study is intended to present an initial picture of women’s participation in international security in the U.S. Executive Branch. The findings indicate that progress has been made in the numbers of women who have pursued careers and risen to senior levels in these agencies. Gender-based discrimination, which was pervasive in previous decades, is not the common experience that it once was for women in this sector. Laws, regulations, and policies have not only prohibited discrimination, but have established commitments to increase opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups. More resources and options are available for work-life balance, which has been identified as a key area of concern for women. These institutional improvements reflect wider societal shifts over time in how women and men are viewing working environments and career choices.
Despite these positive achievements, women continue to grapple with challenges to career advancement within this sector. The numbers indicate that women remain well below 50 percent in decision-making positions. Although the overall participation of women in the federal sector has gradually been moving toward 50 percent, the percentages of women in senior level positions average below 30 percent. Women are keenly aware that they remain in the minority in many offices, departments, and sub-fields of international security, and women at all levels feel pressure to prove competence and credibility. Mentoring is a significant factor that influences advancement opportunities for women, and what matters most for women is not whether mentors are male or female, but whether mentors are willing to truly advocate for their mentees. Influential mentors open doors to new positions and promotions — key steps to attaining leadership roles.
The societal and institutional shifts over time have paved the way for more women taking on decision-making positions in government agencies responsible for international security. But women often have no assistance in developing needed leadership skills, and they often have few positive examples of other leaders to draw upon in formulating their own leadership styles. Women view consensus building, inclusiveness and transparency as key attributes of good leadership and areas where women excel. Women are also very aware of the pitfalls of being either too aggressive or too passive in their leadership approaches.
There is no consensus among women about how to define work-life balance or whether it is possible to achieve it in international security positions in the government, especially at senior levels. However, women do agree that they face unique challenges in balancing the demands of these jobs with family responsibilities, although the gender dimension is beginning to break down as more men are also prioritizing family. Although there are now many more flexible work options and benefits available for federal employees to support work-life balance, there are real disincentives to taking full advantage of these options. Leadership plays a key role in whether women feel that work-life balance considerations are supported. Women are hopeful that those in senior level positions in the current Administration, especially newly appointed women who have children, will set a positive example for work-life balance.
Although many of the challenges identified in this study cannot be solved by institutional changes alone, there is much more the U.S. Government can do to support women’s opportunities in this sector. The recommendations in this report highlight some of these areas. Strengthening mentoring programs, expanding the availability and the value that is placed on leadership training, and closing some of the remaining gaps in work-life balance benefits, such as maternity leave, can have a significant impact on the morale and retention of women in these agencies. But perhaps most important is the role of government leaders — both women and men—in recognizing the remaining barriers to women’s advancement opportunities and setting positive examples for women in the pipeline to follow in their own paths to leadership.
Organizations like WIIS and government agencies must partner together, as we seek the way ahead for improving women’s participation and leadership in international security professions. This report represents a new starting point to reinvigorate the dialogue on examining and solving this critical issue. It is hoped that this study will contribute to understanding and addressing the nuanced and multifaceted challenges that professional women face today.
for government leaders and foreign policy/national security agencies
The following recommendations are based principally on ideas from interviewees and from the key findings that emerged in the course of this study. The purpose of these recommendations is to provide general guidance to U.S. Government actors as they seek to build a talented, dedicated, and diverse workforce in international security.
For positive and lasting improvements in women’s participation to be possible, there are four prerequisites:
LEadErShiP that values recruitment, retention, and promotion of talented and capable women and takes proactive steps to address the obstacles and expand the professional opportunities for women.
FLExiBiLity in workplace arrangements, to retain talented women in government who otherwise move on to new opportunities.
SUPPOrt for the continuing professional development of talented and capable women throughout their careers.
MandatES and rESOUrcES for agencies to develop new, creative, and more effective ways to groom future female leaders in government.
WIIS proposes the following:
Promote Leadership Development for Women
➤ Demonstrate a strong commitment at the Cabinet level to creating workplaces that allow talented women to rise in level and responsibility.
➤ Highlight as role models successful female leaders and offices that support women.
Reward women who exhibit excellence in leadership at all levels through promotion and other workplace opportunities.
Identify and promote women to the director level or equivalent in government offices so that they gain important management experience for higher levels. Give mid-level women increasing management responsibilities.
Ensure that each department/agency has a formal policy commitment to gender diversity, that these policies are accompanied by specific objectives and strategies, and that leaders prioritize their full and timely implementation.
Ensure diverse representation, including gender balance, on committees that select candidates for senior-level ranks, such as the Senior Executive Service and the Senior Foreign Service, and positions such as ambassadorships and mid-to-senior level management positions.
Set target numbers of female candidates for senior leadership appointments, and regularly evaluate progress towards those targets.
Encourage women in government to take on active roles in agency affinity groups and outside organizations to gain leadership experience, and consider this experience as a relevant factor when selecting candidates for positions and promotions.
Establish programs that identify and recruit women with demonstrated leadership skills from the private, non-profit, and multilateral sectors into government.
Support Work-life Balance and Keep Women on the Leadership Track
Recognize work-life balance is not just a “women’s issue” and that it is relevant for all employees, including those with and without children, and those who are responsible for elder care of family members.
Ensure that formal mechanisms exist to support the increasing demand for flexible work options. For example:
Institutionalize alternative working arrangements in departments, including flex time and telecommuting.
Develop a roster of employees who are currently utilizing flex options or have in the past to be available for those who are setting up these arrangements.
Ensure that all agencies and offices, down to the lowest management level, have information available on how to establish flexible work arrangements, within the U.S. and overseas.
Specify the availability of part-time or job share options in job postings.
Respond to demand for part-time positions and job shares for foreign policy/national security portfolios. Develop creative models that provide full coverage for these portfolios but maintain a manageable work schedule for employees.
Establish a lessons-learned website or blog where employees can compare their experiences with flexible work options, discuss challenges, and share successful strategies.
Recognize and support family needs by providing paid maternity and paternity leave for the full period allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act, and ensure access to childcare facilities on-site or proximate to the workplace.
Establish an office culture that supports work-life balance. Highlight those leaders who set a positive work-life example, and provide opportunities for leaders to share strategies with younger women, especially at the mid-level. Incorporate accountability and incentive mechanisms for managers to support work-life balance needs of all employees.
Recognize the importance of flexible career paths for women. Create mechanisms that allow government employees to leave federal service for a fixed period of time and readily return into the system at an equal or higher level.
Devote adequate resources for agencies to provide flexible work arrangements, and to create work environments that allow women in leadership roles to do their jobs and care for their families.
Build a Culture of Mentorship Among Women
Ensure that formal mentoring programs are established in all departments and agencies that target the different needs of entry, mid and senior level women. Ensure that every new hire is matched with a mentor, and that there are ongoing mentoring opportunities at each stage of career progression. Encourage both vertical and lateral mentoring at all levels.
Create mentoring opportunities that support the needs of mid-level women by matching them with senior-level women and men who can guide them into leadership roles.
Establish creative mentoring models. For example, coordinate regular fora that allow mid and senior level women to share wisdom with younger women. Consider a short-term mentoring model which allows a mentee to call upon a mentor for advice on a particular, time-bound problem.
Recognize the vital importance of informal mentoring for women, and support the development of these relationships, especially for mid-level women.
Develop the Next Generation of Women Leaders
Develop government wide lessons learned, models, and innovative programs to support women’s advancement opportunities. Call upon the private and non-profit sectors to share insights and identify best practices. Compile and circulate best practices among agencies and ensure that they are incorporated into personnel and management policies.
Capitalize on current interest in government service. Expand programs that encourage women and minorities to pursue foreign policy and national security careers and to gain experience in the government. Increase the number of interns and fellows to enable more young women to gain government work experience.
Expand rotation programs within departments, among agencies, and with outside organizations to enable women to build expertise and key relationships. These programs will benefit all government employees.
Encourage participation in activities and groups inside and outside agencies that provide leadership, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
Invest more resources in designing and providing training programs for women at all stages of their careers. Offer leadership and management training for junior women in government, well before they reach SES.
Call upon experienced women who have worked in foreign policy/national security positions in government to train other women. Encourage women with military experience to help develop and run leadership training for civilians.
Offer training topics that incorporate issues that women have identified as important, such as building credibility and visibility, developing a leadership style and approach, overcoming gender stereotypes, balancing inclusiveness and decisiveness, building mentoring relationships and strengthening communications skills.
Ensure that managers are accountable for supporting their employees taking time away from the office to participate in training programs and that senior leadership understands the value of professional development for women’s advancement.
Improve information gathering on women in the government workforce to identify gaps in representation and develop strategies to improve opportunities
for women. For example:
Track recruitment, retention, and promotions of women in government agencies by both professional grade and type of position.
Document reasons that women leave foreign policy/national security positions and incorporate what is learned into retention efforts.
Develop evaluation and monitoring mechanisms to analyze progress in increasing women’s participation in government positions.
Authors: Camille Pampell Conaway and Jolynn Shoemaker Editors: Jolynn Shoemaker, Allison Adams-Alwine, and Jennifer Park
United Nations (UN) peacekeeping is in high demand. With a 400 percent increase in the number of peacekeeping missions in the past two decades, the pressure to quickly launch, staff, and coordinate the military and civilian components of multi-dimensional peace operations has never been greater. Despite the urgent need, UN missions have failed to attract, retain, and advance the most qualified talent in leadership positions, threatening the implementation of demanding peace operations. Women, especially those from non-Western countries, are an untapped and potentially powerful resource to staff and lead these missions. Women remain underrepresented in management positions and are rarely appointed at the highest levels of leadership.
Since the historic adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), the recognition of the important and beneficial role that women play in building sustainable peace has steadily increased. Civil society arguments for women’s inclusion in the formal processes of peacemaking and peacebuilding are bolstered by growing evidence of women’s impact on the ground in unstable and conflict-affected countries. Numerous policymakers and practitioners within the UN and other multi-lateral organizations are publicly acknowledging the value of women in leadership roles.
Yet the lack of women in senior positions in the UN, particularly in peacekeeping missions, reflects the reality that significant cultural and institutional impediments remain to women’s entry and advancement within the UN. As a result, there is frustration with the slow pace of progress both inside and outside the system. There are few mechanisms in place to facilitate regular information sharing between the UN and civil society on this issue. Civil society organizations lack understanding about the skills and requirements for high-level positions, the process for selecting candidates, and the best means to nominate qualified experts. Within the UN, there are traditionally few resources and little attention devoted to outreach and communication with organizations that can access qualified female candidates, or to marketing these positions in a way that will attract the best talent.
Few Women Lead UN Peacekeeping Missions
In 60 years of UN peacekeeping—from 1948 to 2008—only seven women have ever held the post of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). Why is it so difficult to identify and appoint women to leadership positions in peace operations? This study revealed multiple factors that impede the selection of women at the highest levels of leadership. First, a non-transparent process and the political considerations inherent in the recruitment of SRSG’s and Deputy SRSG’s (DSRSG) result in the appointment of candidates who tend to be wellknown in the UN system, such as ambassadors and permanent representatives. Women, who are underrepresented in these circles, have a distinct disadvantage when inner-circle, high-level diplomats compose the primary selection pool. Candidates without political backing, familiarity with the UN actors, and fluency in the UN “lingo” are at a distinct disadvantage. For those potential leaders outside the UN system, this bias and the inability to tap into external networks presents enormous hurdles.
Second, the bias against candidates from the “outside” may have an impact on the interview process for the recruitment for posts in peace operations. This may have particular implications for women, and especially for women from under-represented regions of the world, who may approach and describe peace and security issues differently. The way the questions are asked, the way the process is conducted, and the way that female candidates answer the questions, may perpetuate this insider bias.
Third, key qualifications for SRSG and DSRSG positions, such as military experience, may eliminate many female candidates. Some policymakers and practitioners reportedly continue to believe that women may not have the necessary political skills and diplomatic gravitas to head large-scale civil-military missions. A widespread belief persists that women with development and humanitarian backgrounds are passed over for SRSG positions, despite the fact that there have been a number of DSRSG’s with these qualifications. Even when women candidates for SRSG positions “make it on the short list” in the decision-making process, the pursuit of geographic balance, favoritism toward certain nationalities under-represented in the UN system, and the “silent imposition” of member states on behalf of their nominees often work against women in the appointment process.i When women are finally tapped for leadership, according to interviewees, decision-makers may choose them for particular positions deemed “safer,” “less visible,” or less “serious.”
A distinct challenge to women’s leadership in peace operations is self-elimination. Beginning with the application process, some women are reluctant to accept positions unless they are extremely confident that their qualifications and experience exactly match the needs of the position. Many point to the fact that their male counterparts do not exhibit the same reservations. Even when offered senior posts in peacekeeping, well qualified women often decline these opportunities. While some interviewees assert that women are dissuaded from field posts due to arduous conditions, women who have served in peacekeeping missions categorically reject such assumptions. In fact, a primary reason for self-elimination from senior level positions in the field is the non-family duty status of peacekeeping missions. This constraint was repeatedly cited in interviews as a disincentive for qualified women candidates. Many women are only willing to go to non-family duty stations once their children are grown. Others reported they did not extend their tours due to spousal or other family considerations.
Few Women Rise Through the Ranks
Many of the same impediments to recruiting women are common at the professional levels. The low numbers of professional female applicants—both internal and external—may directly relate to the layers of obstacles in the peacekeeping recruitment system for civilians. Applicants put little faith in the ability of the UN’s online application system to distinguish and recognize talent. Furthermore, the actual vacancy announcements may be biased. While a commitment to the principles of gender equality was recently added to UN vacancy announcements, a military emphasis persists in the qualifications for peacekeeping posts. In addition, the online system utilizes generic language in many vacancy announcements in order to populate a database of civilian experts. At the other professional levels—just as with senior women—candidates tend to pursue jobs that are specifically matched to their qualifications. Thus, the way the position is described and marketed can determine whether or not a woman even applies.
Once women enter the UN system, they do not stay long. Women’s numbers drop dramatically between entry-level and mid- and senior management. While women make up nearly 30 percent of international staff in peacekeeping operations, they are highly concentrated in the most junior positions. The UN experiences faster turnover of women than men, and it is reportedly difficult to keep even female managers in field positions for more than one year. Interviewees point to the lack of a career track and professional development in the UN system, noting that the organization is not structured to groom staff at the mid-level. Several interviewees said that women are regularly placed in positions where they are neither visible nor likely to reach decision-making positions.
Another major factor that negatively influences retention and morale are the relatively low compensation packages in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) than other UN agencies. Perhaps even more importantly for female staff, the vast majority of DPKO missions are designed as non-family duty posts, despite the fact that staff from other UN agencies are permitted to bring spouses and children to the very same locations. The General Assembly is considering recommendations of the Secretary-General with regard to human resources reform in the UN, including harmonization of service conditions so that DPKO staff will be treated equally with regard to families in the field. The approval of this reform package will be extremely important for future efforts to recruit and retain qualified personnel for these missions.
The UN lacks a support structure to facilitate mentoring and promote career development of women in junior and mid-level positions. Those women leaders who joined the UN later in their careers were often recruited individually by a colleague or influential mentor already in the UN system. For women who have advanced up the ranks, influential mentors and supporters—nearly always men—played a key role in their career development. Numerous interviewees described a system that is far from a meritocracy, and unable or unwilling to accommodate dual career spouses or family priorities. As summarized by one interviewee: “To be successful in the UN, one must be single, widowed, or divorced.”
Gender Influences the System—Negatively and Positively
Gender-based discrimination is common in the UN system. Many types of biases, including double standards applied to women in senior level positions, are prevalent. Many interviewees point to the fact that the few women who occupy leadership positions are under tremendous pressure to succeed. Failure can be perceived as a reflection on the capacity of all women to do these jobs, even in those cases where the failures were not their own.
Senior level women with years of experience in multicultural environments report that many UN staff remain entrenched in outdated mentalities, particularly with regard to gender and women. In missions, women encountered biases in daily interactions with colleagues and national officials. However, women demonstrated an ability to creatively work around these obstacles. Some cited the initial difficulties they encountered when dealing with military and intelligence officials, but acknowledged they could quickly win respect after demonstrating their expertise. Despite these challenges, women who have served in UN peace operations were extremely positive about their experiences in the field and have expressed a willingness to serve in the field again. In field missions, where women often assume a higher-grade position than at headquarters, they feel there is more flexibility, freedom, and the potential to make an impact.
Senior level women interviewed for this report frequently discussed their participatory approach and conflict resolution skills, but all were reluctant to attribute these qualities to gender. Women who have served in leadership positions in UN peace operations describe their styles with the words “consultative,” “open” and “inclusive”— attributes that are generally considered feminine. They describe different approaches to managing divergent interests in conflict situations. They tend to view these positions as making a positive contribution, rather than selfpromotion or ego. Women in field missions demonstrate a willingness to tackle difficult issues, such as rape and sexual violence, in part, out of concern for the victims. This is particularly relevant in the wake of widespread reports of sexual violence and misconduct by peacekeepers in 2005.
Intentionally or otherwise, women in leadership positions in field missions are seen as role models for women within peace operations—both within the mission and to the host country. Many women managers in field missions hire other women, purposefully recruiting them, supporting those in junior positions, and demonstrating a commitment to mentor their careers. Furthermore, when women are visible in the mission, particularly in senior positions, an example is set for women’s post-war participation in the host country in political, economic, and even military roles.
While UN peacekeeping clearly remains male-dominated, particularly at the leadership levels, there has been significant forward movement in recent years at UN headquarters and in the field as a result of the ever-growing and dire need for talent in peacekeeping. A number of reforms are increasing women’s representation in senior peacekeeping positions. In 2007 alone, the number of women in senior posts increased by 37 percent. Several new components within DPKO—namely the Senior Appointments Section and the Department of Field Support’s (DFS) Recruitment and Outreach Unit, are incorporating gender sensitivity and prioritizing the identification of qualified women. Other planned mechanisms and activities could further improve recruitment for peacekeeping posts, such as greater collaboration in the recruitment of political and development/humanitarian DSRSG’s, the creation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning system that will replace the online peacekeeping application system, the development of a new talent search system, and better outreach to civil society. Some senior managers at headquarters and in the field—both men and women—have demonstrated a personal commitment to increasing women’s participation. In DFS, in just the past two years, women now occupy key senior level human resource and outreach positions. All have made vocal, public commitments to fulfilling the mandates of Security Council Resolution 1325 and are working on a daily basis to make this a practical reality.
What remains to be seen is whether the UN will implement the long-term and difficult institutional, procedural, and cultural changes necessary to create more opportunities for qualified female leaders in UN peace operations. If the recent reforms and efforts are to succeed, the UN will need to devote much more attention and resources to solving the persistent impediments to attracting, grooming, and promoting the best talent for leadership positions in peacekeeping.
Potential partnerships and creative strategies to identify and select the best talent for leadership positions are inhibited by a lack of effective communication between the UN and civil society, which contributes to inaccurate assumptions of the recruitment process, the qualifications for peacekeeping, and the incentives or disincentives for qualified women to apply.
A UN bias toward well-known candidates inside the system combined with an inability to tap into external networks presents enormous hurdles for those potential candidates outside the UN. Without a powerful champion within the system, it is less likely a qualified woman will obtain a senior leadership position.
While many interviewees point to bias against SRSG candidates with a humanitarian and development background—as opposed to military experience—approximately half of current SRSG’s have a humanitarian or development background.
Even when women candidates for SRSG positions “make it on the short list” in the decision-making process, the pursuit of geographic balance, favoritism toward certain nationalities underrepresented in the UN system, and the “silent imposition” of member states on behalf of their nominees can work against women in the appointment process.
In some cases, qualified senior level women may not promote themselves as effectively as men. Women tend to self-eliminate from consideration for senior positions and leadership roles. Even at the most senior level, women may decline to pursue or accept positions unless they are extremely confident that they are the right match for the qualifications and the needs of the host country. In the field, the focus of women on the job at hand, rather than self-promotion, was cited as a benefit to the mission. However, this can be a disadvantage at headquarters, where visibility and powerful allies are key factors in selection for senior leadership positions.
Retention and Advancement
Although approximately 40 percent of entry-level professional posts are occupied by women, these numbers drop dramatically in the mid- and senior level management posts.
Especially at senior levels, informal entry points into the system are the most common ways to join the UN. Almost universally, senior women learned of their posts through colleagues and networks, not through formal ads or the UN online application system.
Influential mentors and contacts inside the UN play a key role in supporting the advancement of women leaders. Many experienced women from outside the UN are identified and recruited for senior roles after making extensive contacts within the system as consultants.
Mentors for senior women tend to be senior male colleagues who helped guide women’s UN careers and recommend them for promotions.
The majority of female managers in peacekeeping, and in the UN generally, are unmarried, divorced, and/or without children. Senior women in peacekeeping who are married tend to have spouses who are also within the UN system or who they met on the job. Nearly all married women note that there is little support for dual-career couples in the UN, particularly with regard to field missions.
Women actually feel they may have more flexibility, freedom, and the potential to make an impact in field missions, where they often assume a higher-grade position than at headquarters. However, women and men also report difficulties leaving their New York jobs for a higher classification only to return to their previous jobs in the Secretariat at the lower level.
Biases and Behaviors
Women in senior leadership positions, SRSG’s in particular, are frequently held to higher standards than men, who tend to circulate from mission to mission regardless of job performance. Failure on the part of one woman in a leadership role can have repercussions on the general perception of all women to successfully lead UN missions.
Women in the UN—both in headquarters and in the field—experience implicit and explicit genderbased discrimination. Although some women experience sexual harassment, biases and stereotypes were more common than blatant discrimination in field missions. Implicit discrimination is cited frequently by senior women at headquarters. Women find creative ways to overcome negative biases and behaviors and gain credibility, especially in dealing with military and intelligence officials in the host country.
Women who have served in senior positions and those who have worked with them describe their leadership styles similarly—as “collaborative, consultative,” and “inclusive.” Interviewees highlight the negotiation skills and solutions-based approaches of female leaders in peace operations. However, many of these women resist attributing these qualities to gender or a feminine approach.
Women in senior management positions demonstrate a strong commitment to increasing women’s participation. Within the Department of Field Support, in just the past two years, key senior level human resources and outreach positions are now occupied by women who have taken intentional action to fulfill the mandates of Security Council Resolution 1325. Many women managers in field missions hire other women, purposefully bringing them onto their teams and supporting those in more junior positions. Women in these positions are seen as role models—both within the mission and to the host country.
Recruitment and Selection
For the UN Secretariat:
Re-examine and re-formulate the assessment process for candidates for senior level positions.
Evaluate the process and make recommendations to ensure fairness to all candidates, including those working outside the UN system, those from non-Western countries, and female applicants.
Examine and integrate successful strategies utilized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to select female Resident Coordinators (RCs).
Select the highest quality applicants while working toward gender balance goals.
Emphasize the relevance of humanitarian and development competencies for peacekeeping missions.
Improve gender balance on candidate lists for leadership positions.
Ensure that one woman and one individual from a developing country are included on every short list of candidates sent to the Secretary-General and the appointments panel to consider for SRSG posts.
Make every effort to ensure women are on the appointment panels that make SRSG selections.
Strengthen the Senior Leadership Appointments Section.
The Secretary-General should capitalize on the work of the Section, openly promote its mission, and encourage member states not to bypass the process behind closed doors, but channel their recommendations through this office.
Immediately increase outreach by the Section to member states to advertise their mandate and existence. Similarly, the staff could benefit from greater collaboration with other UN agencies with rosters as well as regular contact with civil society.
Continue creating Terms of Reference (TOR) for SRSG’s that are specific to each mission and assignment, and widely circulate these profiles to gather qualified candidates for a vetted roster. As the list develops, establish a target for at least 50 percent representation of women.
Appoint and promote women to mid- and senior positions where they can gain the experience to become SRSG’s. The Secretary-General should immediately seek to increase the number of female Special Envoys, which are generally shorter assignments with fewer obstacles for women. As of 2007, not a single UN Special Envoy was a woman.
Address the problem of self-elimination by women.
Increase transparency regarding what senior leadership positions entail and the requisite qualifications.
Move decisively towards an “ensemble approach” to staff missions, rather than seeking one individual who embodies all desirable characteristics of an SRSG or DSRSG.
Correct the misperception that a military background is a prerequisite for senior leadership positions in peacekeeping operations. Widely advertise positions internally and externally— beyond the usual circles—to ensure that women with development and humanitarian backgrounds are aware of opportunities in these missions.
Call upon women who have served in senior leadership positions in peacekeeping to help raise awareness of opportunities and improve outreach and recruitment of women.
“Re-brand” peacekeeping to improve job marketing. Individuals who work at the UN are frequently value-driven, and jobs should be framed this way. The range of opportunities must be better advertised in order to attract qualified people, particularly in hard-to-fill positions. Above all, the perception that the Galaxy online application system for the UN is a “black hole” must change through faster turn-around times and more frequent communication with applicants. Improvement in marketing will also help attract those with relevant field experience from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to peacekeeping opportunities.
Review and improve vacancy announcements.
Be more specific when describing job qualifications. Although generic postings are useful for the UN recruitment database, women may be more likely to apply for mission-specific and expertisespecific vacancy announcements.
Immediately add a field to Galaxy online applications to determine where candidates learned of the vacancy in order to target resources appropriately.
Do not over-emphasize military expertise in vacancy announcements.
Include more specificity about gender expertise and experience and how this is assessed when evaluating candidates.
Dramatically expand outreach, both internally and externally, to identify and attract the best talent. DPKO frequently laments the loss of personnel to other UN funds and agencies. In turn, peacekeeping staff must actively recruit from these same sources.
Cast a wider net outside the UN system. DFS must be more creative and proactive to refresh and broaden networks where the UN recruits.
Ensure that personnel from other UN agencies and departments are aware of and recruited for civilian opportunities in peacekeeping missions.
Per UNDP’s example, conduct recruitment missions to key countries where women hold leadership posts and in stable post-conflict countries where women may be familiar with peace operations, have the requisite experience from their military service, or be advancing rapidly in the ranks of newly formed armed forces and police services.
Communicate needs to key national and international rosters to facilitate the identification of qualified candidates.
Establish a standing mechanism for communications between DFS and civil society groups with access to talent, such as a working group or task force. The forum should facilitate regular opportunities for dialogue and information sharing in order to bring forth qualified candidates, especially women, at the senior levels. Focus specifically on outreach and partnership with national women’s machineries and international networks with access to women.
Gather data to determine what forms of outreach are most effective for women.
Conduct interviews with successful applicants to learn more about their recruitment, and develop a way to track how applicants to the Galaxy online application system discovered vacancy announcements.
Explore creative ways to track the effectiveness of outreach, particularly to women’s groups.
Utilize this data to support requests for additional funding to expand outreach and target recruitment efforts that will attract qualified women.
Encourage member states to be more proactive in recommending women for senior leadership positions.
The Secretary-General should provide incentives for member states to go beyond lip service to the idea of gender equality, and encourage them to regularly submit the names of well-qualified female candidates.
Inform under-represented member states that recommending women for these posts could help them achieve greater representation in the UN.
11. Maintain a dedicated capacity to find and recruit women in traditionally male-
dominated fields, such as logistics. Extend the mandate of the temporary Gender Outreach Officer in the Logistics Support Division, and increase resources for advertising and outreach for positions where women are poorly represented.
Retention and Advancement
For the UN Secretariat:
Prioritize DPKO’s human resources. Develop talent in the UN system by rewarding staff in dangerous posts, creating an enabling working environment at headquarters and in the field, and placing a premium on staff morale and job satisfaction. Invest in staff through increased compensation, improved benefits and entitlements, and the ability to travel and live with family as often as possible. Spending billions on peacekeeping without investing in people is counterproductive.
Harmonize the conditions of service for peacekeeping staff.
Raise awareness among member states of the importance of harmonizing service conditions.The Secretary-General should report on the failure to attract needed talent and the negative implications for missions without incentives for personnel to serve in peacekeeping positions.
Highlight ways that member state contributions could be used to alter dysfunctional human resource rules and the difference this would make in terms of recruitment and retention.
Create a forum for staff and managers to discuss and recommend intermediate steps that can be taken within current institutional constraints to improve morale and better accommodate family considerations.
Enact human resource reforms tailored to women and families.
Design career tracks that meet the needs of women, allowing them to enter and exit the system over a certain time period.
Establish focal points for women in human resource offices in peace missions to recognize and address their specific needs.
Implement alternative work arrangements at headquarters, such as job share programs and flex time.
Become “dual-career” friendly. The Secretariat must do more to accommodate spouses in field missions.
When there is no direct conflict or oversight, the mission should seek to employ the staff member and his/her spouse.
Relax family restrictions in every mission that other UN agencies deem secure enough for dependents.
Enable personnel in peace missions to visit family regularly. Leave policies should account for travel time to visit family in other countries.
Groom existing talent. Targeted career and professional development can help attract and retain staff. The UN should recognize talent inside the system, and focus on providing potential leaders with opportunities to advance.
Establish programs to groom young leaders to offer training, mentoring, and special assignments, emphasizing participation from women and the global South.
Management training should be standard and mandatory for UN senior staff.
Focus on grooming mid-level staff, at which point many women leave the system.
Create career tracks to allow personnel to rotate in and out of the system easily, complementing UN experience with opportunities in national governments, NGOs, and other relevant sectors.
Relax the Galaxy online application rules for former staff. No one should have to re-apply through Galaxy once they are in the system.
Given the cross-cutting nature and expertise of gender advisors in the field, consider personnel who demonstrate high competency in these posts for more senior positions in missions.
Promote greater consistency between opportunities in the field and advancement in headquarters.
Consider promotions for staff returning from senior positions in the field when they return to headquarters.
Develop online courses and training lectures to promote skills development among all staff.
Establish career support centers in duty stations to help staff continue to enhance their skills.
Recognize and reward UN personnel who serve in peace operations.
The Secretary-General should highlight the contributions of personnel who work in peacekeeping and demonstrate appreciation for those who have taken on leadership roles in difficult conditions.
Generously reward the staff for their commitment and willingness to re-locate to difficult missions under harsh conditions.
Assess and address retention problems at headquarters.
Conduct research on gender sensitivity within DPKO and DFS. Explore specific institutional or cultural environments that may contribute to poor retention of women and staff with families. Develop and implement improvements based on the findings.
Conduct mandatory exit interviews to gather and apply lessons learned.
Develop systematic retention strategies based on the reasons staff leave the UN system.
Hold senior managers accountable to the UN’s commitment to gender balance.
As a first step, DPKO should enact a gender score card for managers similar to UNDP’s mechanism, which is available to all agency staff.
In addition, assess SRSG’s on their knowledge of gender issues in annual performance and end-ofmission evaluations.
Integrate gender perspectives in the orientation, training, and learning programs available for senior staff, including courses and resources offered by the UN System Staff College.
For Member States:
Identify and promote women nationally for SRSG and DSRSG posts. Gather the names of prominent women in national governments, military, and police to maintain at-the-ready when an appointment arises. Reach out to the Senior Leadership Appointments Section to ensure these candidates are included on the UN’s internal roster.
Dedicate resources to increasing the recruitment of women in the military, police, logistics, and other sectors where they are severely under-represented. The major Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) should dedicate a staff person in Permanent Missions with the specific responsibility to liaise with the national military and police in order to recruit women and feed them into the UN system.
Continue sharing “best practices” on the recruitment of women for peace operations. The recent conferences and exchange of ideas among TCCs, PCCs, UN agencies, and other stakeholders are notable. The findings from Pretoria and subsequent regional workshops on this topic should be disseminated to other member states.
Provide gender training for all leadership positions in the national military, police, diplomatic, and development sectors of the government to begin to overcome long-held stereotypes and biases.
Re-energize the “Friends of 1325” group of member states. The Friends of 1325 was formed to track progress and to press for implementation of Resolution 1325. The Friends of 1325 should encourage other governments to take action in increasing the representation of women in leadership roles in peacekeeping.
Establish accountability measures in national agencies and departments to gauge success in the implementation of Resolution 1325 at the country level.
For Civil Society:
Connect the various networks and rosters to approach the UN with a unified strategy. Establish coalitions and working partnerships to strengthen advocacy efforts. Build on existing programs and initiatives that identify and support female candidates for senior leadership positions.
28. Develop a bona fide training academy for women leaders. Draw on former SRSG’s and
UN leaders as guest trainers to coach senior women and help them prepare as candidates. Train them in the use of the Galaxy online application system, testing techniques, and interview skills. Raise the visibility of this issue and of the individual women participants.
Re-evaluate the effectiveness of external rosters and develop other mechanisms and strategies to bring qualified women forward.
Examine existing rosters at the professional level and identify and put forth female candidates rather than creating new, women-only rosters.
At the senior level, develop new ways to advocate for women leaders more effectively. Respond to requests for candidates from the Senior Leadership Appointments Section with the names of qualified women from inside and outside the UN. Tap into informal networks to promote specific women candidates among decision-makers.
Develop a small, concrete list of women’s groups with solid networks.
Ensure the Recruitment and Outreach Unit can access this list to circulate vacancy announcements and other information.
Conduct training-of-trainers and tutorials for women in these organizations to share with their constituents so that they are aware of the Galaxy online application process, can access and use the system, and are encouraged to apply for peacekeeping positions.
Reach out to current and former senior level women for support and strategy. High-ranking women inside and outside the UN system have demonstrated a commitment to increasing women’s leadership opportunities. Some women in senior level positions in peace operations have been at the forefront of advocacy on this issue. Civil society groups should convene current and former women leaders to discuss common challenges and to develop strategies for women’s advancement in peacekeeping.
Conduct additional research. Focus on pragmatic elements to promote implementation.
Conduct a full-scale gender analysis of vacancy announcements with practical recommendations to improve language.
Explore incentives from other sectors that are specifically designed to recruit and retain women.
Continue to build a broad body of evidence to examine and document women’s leadership styles and women’s approach and impact on peace operations, in civilian, military and policing capacities.
Document career paths of men and women who have served in senior leadership positions to assess experiences and qualifications that lead to advancement.
Maintain a strong advocacy presence before the UN and national governments.
Target ministers and director generals in charge of appointments.
Demand accountability for the low number of women in high-level national and international posts.
“The difficulty in getting women in peace operations is a microcosm of the difficulty in getting women engaged in peace and security.”
–Female senior manager in the United Nations
In November 2006, over 75 experts gathered in New York and Washington to discuss “United Nations Reform: Improving Peace Operations by Advancing the Role of Women.” Convened by the Stanley Foundation and Women in International Security, practitioners and policymakers from United Nations (UN) agencies, national governments and militaries, academia, and civil society groups identified barriers to women’s advancement and elaborated concrete ways to improve the recruitment and selection of women for peace operations—as heads of mission, military personnel, civilian police, and international and national staff.
Their discussions revealed several trends. Primarily, there is increased awareness of the mandates for gender balance in UN staffing. Similarly, there is growing recognition of the operational effectiveness of women, particularly in military and police roles in peace operations. However, the willingness to act among key policymakers and practitioners is off-set by questions surrounding how to act, given the need for rapid decisionmaking, the presence of competing priorities, and the hazardous environment of peacekeeping missions. The findings and recommendations of the consultations are summarized in the policy analysis brief, United Nations Reform: Improving Peace Operations by Advancing the Role of Women.
To further the WIIS mission to promote gender balance in peace and security—and implement one of the recommendations from the November 2006 consultations—WIIS has undertaken additional research on these issues. Supported by the Compton Foundation, the second phase of the WIIS Women in Peace Operations Project was launched to improve understanding of the qualities and skills required to lead UN peace operations, promote the development of more transparent procedures for the recruitment of senior managers for peacekeeping missions, and encourage reform to provide expanded opportunities for women’s leadership in senior, civilian positions in peace operations.
WIIS chose to focus this report specifically on women’s civilian leadership opportunities. While women’s numbers and role in the military and police are the subject of recent reports and action, less attention has been paid to civilian women in peace operations, particularly in leadership positions. Arguably, change among the ranks will not occur until women form a “critical mass” of senior managers in peace operations. While the pace of change on the military and policing side will depend largely on more women entering the ranks inside the contributing countries and subsequently deploying to the field, on the civilian side, there are immediate steps that the UN itself, member states, and NGO’s can take in identifying qualified women who are ready to lead peace operations. The pool of female candidates for such positions is wider and deeper than the military due to the larger number of women working on peace and security as civilians. In addition, more women in highly visible civilian roles may have a multiplying effect — encouraging younger women to enter and advance in both civilian and military roles in their countries and in the UN system. Thus, although this report focuses specifically on senior level, civilian professional and leadership positions, it has implications for advancing women in the military and policing sides of peacekeeping, as well as those women, on both the civilian andmilitary side, who are just entering the UN as young professionals. It is hoped that this report will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges that are obstructing the advancement of women in the UN, provide a critical assessment of past and current strategies to increase women’s leadership opportunities, and lead to positive and effective action by the UN, member states, and NGO’s.
To build upon the 2007 policy analysis brief, WIIS Executive Director Jolynn Shoemaker and consultant Camille Pampell Conaway conducted over 50 interviews from October 2007 to January 2008 at UN headquarters and by phone. Interviewees included women formerly or currently in high-level positions, UN staff with various agencies in New York and in peacekeeping missions, representatives of key national governments—host countries and those dispatching police and military personnel to peace operations—as well as practitioners and experts in nongovernmental organizations and women’s groups.
Key research questions included:
How many women have served in senior level positions in UN peace operations? In which posts? What career paths led to these positions?
What are the qualities, experiences, and skills required to lead UN peace operations? What are the standard procedures for identifying and selecting the leadership of UN peace operations? Are women specifically recruited to fulfill UN goals of gender parity? How? By whom? Can rosters be effective in recruitment of qualified candidates, including women? Or should other mechanisms be created and tested?
Are Gender Advisors formally part of the senior leadership team of UN peace operations? Are they given an equally strong mandate, resources, access, and authority as other senior managers?
Are professional and senior level women satisfied with the work environment in UN peace operations? Are opportunities for women influenced by family-duty designation or other factors? Is gender-based discrimination a problem? Are women leaders on equal footing with male counterparts—in policy and practice?
Does women’s presence in leadership positions affect the management and overall operation of the mission? Of the outcomes and realization of the goals of the peace operation? In relations with the host country? In the recruitment of local staff? In the visibility of gender and women’s issues? If so, why and how?
What are the obstacles and entry points to women’s recruitment, retention, and promotion to management positions in peace operations? With regard to the role of national governments, what are the domestic procedures of key troop and police-contributing countries for identifying, recruiting, deploying, and supporting women as leaders in peace operations?
How can the UN, member states, and civil society encourage reform of bureaucratic and institutional structures to provide expanded opportunities for women? To increase the visibility of existing qualified female candidates and support their advancement? To promote transparency in the appointment, recruitment, and promotion process?
The Pressing Need to Increase Women’s Participation
Several converging trends make this an ideal time to gather information and advocate for women’s participation in UN peace operations. First, the need for qualified peace operations personnel has never been more urgent. Since the end of the Cold War, the number of UN peacekeeping missions has increased by more than 400 percent.ii From 2006 to 2007 alone, the number of deployed personnel increased by 18 percentiii As of November 2007, 100,554personnel were serving in 17 peacekeeping operations at an estimated annual cost of $7 billion.iv Furthermore, the UN is preparing to embark on one of the largest peacekeeping missions in its history in
Darfur in partnership with the African Union—a first for UN peacekeeping. The African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) will enlist another 31,042 personnel, including 19,555 troops, 6,432 police, and 5,105 civilians.v This represents a 30 percent increase from current deployment levels and contributes to an ever-growing demand for resources to fulfill the financial and personnel requirements of new missions. To respond appropriately to the growing need for stabilization operations, the UN and member states must draw upon a wide variety of personnel with diverse skills and expertise, including women—who can provide critical leadership in peace operations and post-conflict reconstruction.
Second, the need for qualified personnel is compounded by a chronic vacancy problem in UN peacekeeping missions. According to the Assistant Secretary-General of the newly formed Department of Field Support (DFS), about 40 percent of positions remain unfilled in field operations, and the turnover rate in peacekeeping missions is nearly one-third.vi Approximately 25 percent of DPKO offers for field assignments were declined in 2006.vii Meanwhile, the entire UN system is expected to turn over 30-40 percent in the next five years due to retirement, which will necessitate more diverse and extensive outreach.viii
Third, a wide range of expertise and perspectives is needed in missions, as the nature of engagement has evolved to include peace-building and reconstruction assistance. As reported by the Secretary-General in 2006, peacekeeping has moved “from traditional peacekeeping observer operations to larger, multidimensional mandates incorporating responsibilities in the areas of civil affairs, rule of law, governance, human rights, child protection, disarmament, demobilization and integration of ex-combatants and security sector reform.”ix Addressing the multiple challenges requires leaders who bring many skills, experiences, and perspectives to these missions. This is why it is so important to include women in leadership positions. Clearly, there is no single strategy for securing and sustaining peace in conflict zones. By failing to include women in key roles in peacekeeping missions, the UN is missing the diversity of thought that can bring new approaches and solutions to the table. In addition, women could play a crucial role in addressing specific issues such as gender based violence and helping to ensure that missions prevent and punish sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. Even though women bring their own distinct perspectives to the challenges of peacekeeping, they often share similar experiences as women.
Fourth, the Secretary-General is continuing efforts to reform the way the UN addresses peacekeeping challenges. The UN is undergoing an overarching reform effort to better address global security issues, including fragile and failed states, which provides a critical entry point for action in this area. The Office of the Secretary-General has commissioned a number of high level panels and released various reports in recent years attempting to address needed structural reforms regarding the new and emerging peace and security environment. These include the Report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, the Report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, and other specialized reports on peacekeeping best practices, and human resources reform. In 2007, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was re-structured, the Department of Field Support was established, and integrated teams were created to improve coordination in field missions. The recognition and prioritization of reform within the system, and the specific focus on the need to “invest in people” presents a unique opportunity to implement new measures to increase the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in peacekeeping, and the UN system in general.
Finally, there is increasing recognition of the important role that women play in peacebuilding and commitments by the UN to include women in peace processes. The UN has committed itself to achieving 50/50 gender balance throughout the organization.x Various international commitments and declarations have been adopted that recognize the importance of women’s participation in all aspects of peace processes. Chief among them is UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls upon member states and all parties to take action in four areas: 1) to promote the participation of women in decision-making and peace processes, 2) to integrate gender perspectives and training in peacekeeping, 3) to protect women in armed conflict, and 4) to mainstream gender issues in UN reporting systems and programs related to conflict and peacebuilding.xi
In the six years since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, various advancements have been made by DPKO and other UN agencies to implement its mandates. In October 2004, a gender resource package was created for all staff in peace operations—both men and women, including military personnel and police.xii Within DPKO, a gender advisor was appointed at headquarters in 2003, and the number of gender advisors and gender units in field missions has also increased. As of November 2007 there were gender components in 9 peacekeeping operations, and gender focal points in the 7 traditional missions. These numbers have continued to rise, and as of May 2008, 13 peacekeeping operations included gender components.xiii
In 2006, DPKO began convening meetings of Troop Contributing (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) to discuss the issue of gender and peacekeeping.xiv This led to fruitful discussions and concrete recommendations, including some that have already been implemented. For example, note verbales calling for troops were revised to define actual requirements, including explicit references when combat experience is not required—a step designed to encourage countries to deploy women.xv In 2007, TCCs and PCCs gathered specifically to meet with national women’s machineries to discuss and make recommendations on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.xvi Governments in attendance specifically committed to the development of “a national policy” on the recruitment and deployment of women as well as the “nomination of women for senior civilian peacekeeping positions, for example as Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSG)…”xvii This was followed by regional meetings in four countries where high-level representatives reportedly engaged in strong presentations of lessons learned and successful strategies.xviii
In late 2006, DPKO disseminated a Policy Directive on Gender Equality in UN Peacekeeping Operations that reiterates the necessity of increasing women’s civilian and military roles in field missions; these guidelines led to a standard approach for gender mainstreaming at headquarters and in field operations.xix DPKO also released a Global Action Plan on 1325 that includes the increased participation of women in peacekeeping as a priority for the agency.xx At the same time, UN member states are developing national action plans for the implementation of Resolution 1325, which include increased recruitment of women for peace operations.xxi
Indeed, there is growing understanding of the added value of women’s knowledge and experiences within the UN system and beyond, yet critics point out the slow and ad hoc nature of these efforts. While the UN system overall has approached gender parity in lower-level positions—women make up 60.6 percent of General Service postsxxii— the numbers decrease at higher levels. Women make up 38.3 percent of professional posts (49.7 percent of P-2 positions but only 30.8 percent of P-5s), 27.7 percent of management roles, and only 17.7 percent of Assistant Secretary-Generals and Under Secretary-Generals.xxiii Despite repeated mandates and policy commitments, little progress has been made to actually increase the numbers of women, particularly in peace operations. Statistics illustrate the severe implementation gap in field missions.
Overview of Women’s Representation in UN Peace Operations
As of April 2008: xxiv
There is one female head of mission (Liberia) and four women deputies (Burundi, Chad, Liberia, and Sudan). xxv
Only 1.9 percent of military personnel are women (1,408 of 73,348 total troops, military observers, and staff officers), and no forces are led by a woman. xxvi
Women constitute 7.3% of UN police (865 of 11,182 total police), including two female Senior Police Advisers. In professional posts, 6 women are in the Standing Police Capacity, 5 women are in the Police Division, and 5 women are in field missions. xxvii
Approximately 29.8 percent of international civilian staff is composed of women (of 4,857 total)—a number that decreases to ten percent in management positions at the D-1 level or above.xxviii
Women make up 19.6 percent of nationally recruited civilian staff (of 11,501 total), of which many are relegated to service and clerical posts at the lowest grades.xxix
xxiv xxv xxvi xxvii xxviii xxix
The UN and Civil Society: Misperceptions and Missed Opportunities
The slow pace in increasing women’s numbers at senior levels has led to frustration among supporters of Resolution 1325 inside and outside the UN system. Various non-governmental networks have memberships and access to talented women leaders around the world and point out the UN’s apparent inability to tap into their candidate pools. UN agencies, on the other hand, regularly cite the difficulty in identifying female candidates with the requisite experience to take on senior positions in multi-dimensional peace operations with military and civilian components, a multitude of languages and cultures, and frequently volatile security situations.
At the same time, it is clear that a variety of perceptions play into how actors both inside and outside the UN system approach this issue. Unfortunately, in many cases these perceptions are overly simplistic and obstruct creative steps that could be taken to bring more women into these positions and ultimately achieve gender balance. Some examples of assumptions that were frequently heard in interviews include the following:
It is difficult to find women with the appropriate qualifications for these positions.
Qualified women don’t want to go to these missions.
It is a bad idea to risk putting the wrong woman in one of these jobs.
Candidates with development and humanitarian backgrounds are not strong candidates for senior peacekeeping positions.
Advocates contend that these perceptions lead to women not being approached for these positions, inhibit recruitment strategies that would appeal to women, and create strong disincentives to identifying leaders who have not been “tried and tested.” The result, they say, is the selection of men who are “known” within the old boys’ network and have served in these positions before (regardless of whether they have done a good job).
Overall, the lack of transparency about the process for selecting senior leadership positions, lack of outreach to civil society partners about the specific qualifications that the UN is looking for, and lack of channels for NGO’s to effectively communicate recommended candidates to decision-makers at the UN, have inhibited the search for the best talent available to fill leadership positions.
This report begins by outlining the recruitment process for senior positions and the ongoing obstacles to women’s recruitment and advancement. This section also includes data and analysis on the number of women who have served in senior level positions in UN peace operations and a snapshot of the qualifications of current Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in peacekeeping missions.
Part Two describes the experience of women leaders in peace operations: their career paths, working conditions, and the potential impact of women’s presence at senior levels on the operations and outcomes of peace operations for the UN and the host country.
Part Three highlights recent UN institutional reforms to assist in identifying qualified leaders, reaching out to female candidates, and increasing women’s representation in components of peacekeeping missions where they are underrepresented. The section also describes personal commitments and actions on the part of senior managers to implement the mandate of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
PART ONE: THE RECRUITMENT OF WOMEN LEADERS FOR PEACE OPERATIONS
“If the job is well done, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman. But a woman in this job is the ideal manifestation of the UN.” –Assistant Secretary-General in the United Nations
There are two distinct processes involved in identifying and selecting personnel to lead and serve in UN peace operations. Both have something in common – the way that recruitment is structured has largely failed to attract and select qualified women. At the senior leadership level (which includes the Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral, and Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General), the recruitment process is opaque, highly political, and has proven virtually impossible for “outsiders” to understand or influence. At the professional levels, recruitment occurs through a mechanism that both those within and outside the UN criticize as confusing, inefficient, and unable to accommodate the flexibility and speed that is necessary to identify and attract the talent that is needed in field operations. At both the professional and senior leadership levels, those who have successfully entered the system have overwhelmingly been supported by managers and higher level decision makers on the inside.
Special Representatives of the Secretary-General
The Closed Door, Closed Circle Process
In the case of UN peace operations, the heads of mission are Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and their deputies (DSRSG’s). SRSG’s are appointed positions—decided within the UN Secretariat in a closed selection process. In some cases, DPKO will ask member states for recommendations for a specific position, or the SecretaryGeneral’s office may reach out directly to national governments. Because of the difficulty in finding appropriate candidates, internal appointments by the Secretary-General are common. “Inside” heads of mission candidates may have been in other UN leadership positions, such as DSRSG, or have the support of a particular political base. Without exception, successful nominees for SRSG positions have demonstrated two very important characteristics: established relationships with powerful individuals within the UN system and support of their national governments.
An appointments panel works with the Secretary-General to hone the list of candidates. This group includes the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet and representatives from the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), DPKO, and DFS. The host country is also consulted before a final decision is made.
When seeking SRSG’s, “the UN asks: ‘Who is comfortable taking the guns away from the men?’ Instead, they should be asking: ‘Who knows longterm development? Who can address the refugee crisis? Who canget people back to their homes?’” –Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Vice President for Multilateral Affairs, Crisis Groupxxx
Criteria for SRSG Positions
Many SRSG’s are appointed without a Terms of Reference (TOR) and demonstrate both quantifiable characteristics, such as linguistic abilities, and non-quantifiable characteristics, such as personal gravitas. The new Senior Appointments Section (described below) has begun to draft TOR’s for SRSG and DSRSG positions to assist in recruiting the best qualified candidates. A TOR was developed for the Deputy SRSG position for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and required the candidate to “have strong diplomatic and mediation skills and proven management experience, preferably including experience in the management of complex organizations and operations. He/she will have more than 15 years of progressively responsible experience in political affairs, rule of law or human rights at the national and international level.”xxxi Many successful candidates are former ambassadors with diplomatic skills as well as some knowledge and experience within the UN system. Former SRSG’s, representatives from the Secretary-General’s appointments panel, and third-party experts who were interviewed cited the following features most important for SRSG’s:xxxii
A substantive background in peace and security, humanitarian work, or development along with credible knowledge of the mission’s components;
Significant management experience and an ability to lead a large functioning team;
Political smarts and sensibility—a “nose for politics”;xxxiii
Strong negotiating skills and an ability to hear both sides and bring parties to compromise;
Leadership qualities and a sense of comfort interacting with high-level individuals, including the SecretaryGeneral and heads of state;
Credibility with the military;
Excellent inter-personal skills and good judgment of character in order to put together a solid team;
Patience and a high tolerance for frustration; • Good physical health and high energy levels; and • Ambitious and value-driven.
There is growing recognition that all of these qualities cannot possibly be found in a single candidate. For this reason, DPKO is moving toward an “ensemble approach” to recruitment, seeking out candidates that complement each other on a mission team.xxxiv This “core” senior leadership team includes the SRSG, DSRSG(s), chief of staff, head of administration, force commander, and police commissioner. The UN has also begun an orientation program for SRSG’s known as the Senior Leadership Induction Program (SLIP) to be conducted by all staff at the D-2 level or above for four days within the first six months of an appointment.
Development/Humanitarian Deputy SRSG Selection Process
There are usually two DSRSG’s in development/humanitarian side. The process for selecting the DSRSG for the development/humanitarian a peacekeeping mission—one for the political side and one for the
component was recently revised. The selection process involves UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, UNDP, OCHA, DPKO, and DPA.
First, all of these departments are advised of the vacancy. The departments jointly look at the
profile and give input on the terms of refereThe announcement is circulated within the Inter-Agency Advisory Panel (IAAP) for nominations. nce, considerations, and specific criteria.
IAAP agencies generally offer nominations from the pre-approved list of DSRSG candidates— taken from the top Resident Coordinator candidates list or the agencies can nominate another candidate who has passed the UNDP Resident Coordinator competency test.
Six critical agencies (those focused on development and humanitarian issues that are most active in the country) are consulted for the level of inter-agency support for each candidate. comments. These comments are presented in a matrix, showing
The matrix is then sent to OCHA and UNDP for input. The candidates with high levels of support are interviewed, then OCHA and UNDP present DPA/DPKO with recommendations and finalists. The candidates are interviewed again by DPKO and DPA, then the candidates undergo security checks.
The Heads of DPA/DPKO, UN Development Group (UNDG) and OCHA discuss further and agree on final recommendations.
The top finalist and two alternate names are recommended to the Secretary-General. xxxv
There are currently two women serving as DSRSG’s in peacekeeping missions, one in the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the other in the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS). In addition, a woman was recently
designated as the DSRSG for the and is due to deploy in May 2008, and a woman servUN Mission in the Central Africanes as the Deputy Execu Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), tive Representative of the
Secretary-General (ERSG) in the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB).
Women SRSG’s: Few and Far Between
In 60 years of UN peacekeeping—from 1948 to 2008—only seven women have ever held the post of SRSG (See Box: Snapshot of Current Special Representatives of the Secretary-General). Recent months have seen slight progress in female appointments to these positions. In 2006, no peace operation was led by a woman, and only one woman served as a DSRSG (Afghanistan). In October 2007, Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark was appointed SRSG of the UN Mission in Liberia, and soon thereafter, three women agreed to serve as Deputy SRSG’s (Burundi, Darfur, Liberia, and Sudan). According to one former SRSG, Ambassador Løj is a “fantastic choice.”xxxvi She assumed her new post in January 2008. She meets the standard criteria of similar appointees; namely, she has significant diplomatic experience and relationships at the UN. Løj served as Denmark’s former Permanent Representative to the UN.
The Insider/Outsider Dilemma
SRSG’s are frequently a product of “political bargaining”,xxxvii and there is a “tendency to pick politicians or ministers… [It’s] difficult to show the value of other skill sets.”xxxviii Ambassadors, permanent representatives, and those who have served in other high-ranking roles for the UN are commonly chosen for these positions. The backgrounds of current SRSG’s bear this out. Out of 15 appointed SRSG’s, 11 are former ambassadors, former permanent representatives to the UN, or former elected officials. In addition, 9 of the 15 have past experience as special envoys or mediators. Women, who are underrepresented in these circles, have a distinct disadvantage when this is the primary selection pool. The vast majority of Permanent Representatives and ambassadors are men. Of the 192 member states, for example, less than two dozen have female Permanent Representatives to the United Nations as of November 2007.xxxix
Potential SRSG’s are often identified based on personal relationships with senior level officials on the inside of the UN. According to one interviewee, candidates are selected from a “good old men’s club” comprised of “people who are or have been insiders.” For those potential candidates on the outside, this bias towards those who are wellknown in the system and the inability to tap into existing networks on the outside, presents enormous hurdles. Without a powerful champion within the system, it is virtually impossible to be selected.
In addition, this bias may also inform the way that candidates from the “outside” are evaluated during the recruitment process and in the interviews for these positions. This may have particular implications for women, and especially for women from underrepresented regions of the world, who may approach and describe peace and security issues differently. Some interviewees pointed to cases where female candidates from Africa, for example, were not successful in the interview process due to the way they presented themselves and answered the questions. Thus, the way the questions are asked, the way the process is conducted, and the way that female candidates answer the questions, may perpetuate this insider bias. These factors require more study but point to a perhaps overlooked reason for women not being selected for these positions.
The Hard versus Soft Security Bias
Many interviewees emphasized that the male-dominated Secretariat maintains inherent biases against appointing women to “serious” missions.xl Some men still believe that women will not be taken seriously in negotiations. Even in 2007, there is “underlying resistance” to women’s leadership in military and diplomatic circles.xli They are still seen as not having the political skills and the diplomatic gravitas to head large-scale civil-military missions. And when women are tapped for leadership, there is a perception that decision-makers choose them for particular positions that are judged “safer,” “less visible”, or less “serious.” Some DPKO leaders and member states retain a pervasive skepticism of bringing in SRSG’s with humanitarian and development backgrounds, where women’s experiences are common. One woman manager notes this is “the least best common denominator” across member states, as women’s contributions to the mission remain under-recognized.xlii Some inside the system note that there is a “divide of 1st Avenue” between the Secretariat and UN agencies. Although there are more women working at senior levels in these agencies, especially in development and humanitarian capacities, they are not being tapped for peacekeeping missions. Interestingly, of the currently serving SRSG’s, approximately half of them have development and/or humanitarian experience. As such, the skill set that that type of experience brings to leading peace operations is clearly relevant.
Among those interviewed for this study, there was a common perception that substantial weight is placed on military and political experience as a key qualification. Because there is a lack of gender balance in those areas, there are not as many female candidates who are considered or chosen. In fact, one female candidate was told that her lack of experience managing a military campaign was a reason she was not selected for an SRSG position. However, the current list of SRSG’s indicates that only 3 out of 15 have military backgrounds. This leads to the question, are female candidates being held to a different standard than men when it comes to military experience?
Snapshot of Current Special Representatives of the Secretary-General
According to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, SRSG’s are “responsible for coordinating a holistic response to provide the ‘time and space’ for the necessary political process, establish or re-establish the rule of law and good governance and undertake the post-conflict reconstruction and development activities critical to building a sustainable peace.”xliii The following provides a snapshot of the background and qualifications of the SRSG’s leading the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’s 17 peacekeeping missions as of November 2007:
*Note that only those 15 missions with permanent heads were assessed; the 2 missions with acting heads at the time of publication were not included.xliv
The National Factor
“Politics is always going to play a role, but the more established and serious and transparent the process is, the better women will do.” –Former senior manager in the United Nations Secretariat
Even when women candidates for SRSG positions “make it on the short list” in the decision-making process, the pursuit of geographic balance, favoritism toward certain nationalities that are less represented in the UN system, and the “silent imposition” of member states on behalf of their nominees often work against women in the appointment process.xlv Member states continue to recommend men for vacancies, and cultural and institutional impediments persist despite mandates for gender balance. Even those countries that are vocally supporting the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 at home and within the system may not be “putting their money where their mouth is” in this regard.xlvi DPKO continues to state that member states are not putting forward women for these positions. Some member states point to the difficulty of finding qualified women in the first place, which others criticize as a common excuse. Some member states, especially those that are developing or transitioning countries, point out that qualified women at the senior political level are often needed in national positions or tend to have a variety of competing opportunities.
While some point to the difficulty in identifying women who are qualified for leadership roles in peacekeeping as a problem, others within and outside the system say that it is just a matter of being more proactive in recruiting.
Advocates for women’s inclusion inside and outside the UN say that despite lists of highly qualified women candidates and the mandate for gender balance in leadership, there is still lack of political will in the Secretariat to appoint women. Officials in the Secretariat note the lack of time and incentives to engage in lengthy searches for suitable female candidates given pressures of work and rigid personnel rules and procedures, along with the need for the Secretary-General to balance both gender and geographical diversity. Those inside the system also say that although women have been offered these positions, many of them are turning them down. At the very top level of management positions, such as DSRSG and SRSG, there is no available information on how many women have turned down positions.
Some interviewees inside and outside the UN have suggested that some form of affirmative action be implemented. However, these types of mechanisms are not without controversy. “Reserving” certain senior positions for female candidates is one option, but not without perils. When it is perceived that high level positions are “held” for women, some male colleagues become infuriated. Staff reportedly spent six months to one year to find a qualified woman for SRSG and DSRSG posts in African missions in 2007. The danger with reserving posts for women is that they can appear as tokens and face additional layers of scrutiny that men do not encounter.
Women Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in Peace Operations
Name & Nationality
Ellen Margrethe LØJ Denmark
Carolyn MCASKIE Canada
Heidi TAGLIAVINI Switzerland
Ann HERCUS New Zealand
Elisabeth REHN Finland
Angela KING Jamaica
South Africa (UNOMSA)
Margaret Joan ANSTEE United Kingdom
Angola (UNAVEM II)
Qualified Women: A Problem of Self-Elimination?
Almost all interviewers agreed that qualified women may not be in a position (personally or professionally) to accept SRSG or other senior level positions when they are offered. This has been the case in East Timor, where five women were offered and passed up senior level positions; and in Sudan, where numerous senior level positions have been declined by women. Although this has led some to believe that women are dissuaded from taking such positions due the arduous conditions on the ground, women who have served in peacekeeping missions categorically reject such assumptions. They acknowledge that work in the field is not easy, but they do not believe that these realities are a major disincentive to qualified women, especially those at the very senior level who have years of experience in the field and understand the nature of the work.
“Attracting women to these jobs has everything to do with the way the jobs are described.” —Assistant Secretary- General Margareta Wahlstrom, OCHAxlvii
However, the problems that working in a non-family duty station can create for families was cited repeatedly as a major factor for women rejecting positions in peacekeeping. Several women at DSRSG levels said that they were only willing to go on missions after their children were grown and had rejected offers when their children were younger. Even some senior women who had served in the field at later points in their careers noted that they did not extend their tours due to spousal or other family considerations.
Many women actually remove themselves from consideration for leadership positions for another reason. Women seem hesitant to accept positions unless they are extremely confident that they are the right match for the position and the country needs. One senior woman questioned whether she was the right candidate for an SRSG role in a mission because she did not have experience working in the country where the position was located. One other female SRSG said that the only reason she accepted the position was because she had prior experience dealing with the country at hand. At least one former SRSG stated openly that women can be “their own worst enemy,” citing this as one reason she felt compelled to accept the SRSG post when offered: “If I didn’t go, they would say I didn’t act according to my principles. They could say they offered the SRSG position to a woman, but she didn’t have the guts to take it.”xlviii Some women who achieved these positions had to put themselves forward in a very proactive way for the job – they did this when they felt they were uniquely qualified. On other occasions, someone inside the system at a powerful level, including in some cases, the Secretary-General himself, convinced the candidate to take the position despite her initial reservations. Do women need to aggressively lobby for these positions?
The Pipeline: International Civilian Staff
SRSG’s oversee the thousands of international civilian staff who serve in UN missions. Professional posts in the UN range from P-1 (entry level) through P-5 (senior level), and beyond that, director posts include D-1 and D-2. More senior positions, such as SRSG’s, are appointed through the Secretariat’s closed process discussed above.
Professional staff is largely recruited through one-month publicized vacancy announcements and apply to an online system called Galaxy.xlix There are an outstanding number of applicants for peacekeeping positions. In one year, DPKO receives approximately 350,000 applications for civilian peace operations staff.l Despite this plethora of candidates, only 4,857 international staff (1,448 women) were deployed to peacekeeping missions as of October 2007.li
Every applicant to peacekeeping positions in Galaxy is automatically sent to a database known as Nucleus. At this point, DFS human resource staff conducts an initial, administrative clearance for eligibility. Relevant candidates are forwarded to substantive staff in thematic areas, and they follow up with a technical clearance. For example, the DPKO Gender Affairs Officer is responsible for reviewing the applications for gender advisers and gender affairs officers in field missions.
DPKO has begun using Nucleus as a roster of civilian experts, encompassing 24 occupational groups with 400 job titles, because the candidates can be contacted directly when a specific need arises without necessarily advertising a new vacancy.lii Generic vacancy announcements are increasingly used as a means to populate Nucleus with qualified, at-the-ready candidates. This is due, in part, to the enormous, lengthy task of candidate screening. In 2006, the Secretary-General acknowledged the problems with Galaxy and UN recruitment as “reactive and slow. On average, 174 days elapse from the time a vacancy announcement is issued to the time a head of office selects a candidate.”liii Nucleus is an attempt by DPKO to speed up this process.
Gender Specific Barriers?
The overall lack of a critical mass of professional female applicants—both internal and external—may directly relate to the layers of obstacles in current peacekeeping recruitment system for civilians. The first barrier is Galaxy itself, ironically designed to be the door into peacekeeping. Some have noted problems with the Galaxy online system and the lack of access to this mechanism for potential candidates from rural areas or developing countries. The system has a reputation internationally as a “black hole,” and many qualified women—even those with experience in regional peace operations—still believe “you have to know somebody to get UN jobs.”liv The latter statement was, in fact, confirmed by some interviews with senior women managers, several who entered the system at the specific request or urging of a male mentor or colleague already in the UN system.lv Only one woman interviewed was recruited into the UN through Galaxy without a contact inside the UN to support her application.
The “UN-speak” of Galaxy can be a barrier to women candidates. While recent criteria requiring applicants to commit to the principles of gender equality has been added to vacancy announcements, these advertisements continue to have a military emphasis. This inherently male bias exists despite the fact that socio-economic factors— where women’s experience is more common—can be equally important to the success of a multi-dimensional peace operation. The generic language of many vacancy announcements, which is a deliberate strategy to populate the Nucleus database of civilian experts, may also challenge women applicants. At the other professional levels, women appear to have the same tendency as at the very senior level women to pursue only jobs that are specifically matched to their qualifications. Thus, the way the position is described and marketed has an impact on the likelihood that women will apply. According to one qualified candidate: “Women often want to see every line of a job description and read through it to see if they can do it. Women worry about not being able to fulfill expectations. Many men wouldn’t be concerned about this. Generic posts tend to intimidate women who don’t know what they’re facing really and may be a disincentive. The better informed we can make these descriptions, the more likely people, especially women, would be to sign up.”lvi
The In(Effectiveness) of Rosters
There are several types of rosters that have been developed both inside and outside the UN to identify qualified candidates for positions.
Within the UN, DPKO has begun to use the Nucleus system as a roster of pre-cleared, civilian professionals (described previously). UNDP has developed a roster, mainly for D-1 and D-2 level positions, that incorporates gender, diversity, and representation across UN agencies. More recently, the UNDP Surge Project has been created in order to manage recruitment and deployment specifically for crisis and disaster response. It includes a 100person roster organized under 12 profiles. Any applicant can submit their names electronically; short listing is done on an electronic system, which is regularly updated. Approximately 40 percent of the candidates on this roster are women.lvii There are also a number of UN rosters that focus on personnel with specific types of qualifications. For example, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights maintains a roster to provide candidates for its 240 human rights officer positions in peacekeeping missions. In addition to internal UN personnel, roster candidates are drawn from national rosters, civil society, and the nationality of the host government.lviii The Senior Appointments Section is developing a roster of qualified candidates for SRSG, DSRSG and other senior leadership positions in peace operations.
Several external rosters, including the successful CANADEM roster, have been funded by national governments to serve UN personnel needs. CANADEM has expanded to include experts from a variety of countries available to serve in various professional and management positions. Thirty five percent of the CANADEM roster is composed of women. Most of them are concentrated in areas such as human rights and rule of law, with fewer in security positions, such as policing and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration specializations. CANADEM primarily focuses on P-3 to P-5 professional posts for UN operations, although it has also placed candidates in D-1 level positions. The success of the CANADEM roster and others that are working successfully is in part due to the fact that candidates on the roster are pre-cleared through an advanced screening process. Almost all interviewees cited the problem of keeping rosters current as a major impediment to making them useful. CANADEM has addressed this potential problem in two ways. First, position searches for UN and other organizations go out on a daily basis which means they regularly receive updates from people on the roster. The CANADEM database is also designed to search for resumes that are 3 to 4 months old and then automatically notify candidates if resumes need to be updated.lix
In reaction to the paucity of women selected for senior positions, women-only rosters have been generated by UN departments responsible for gender issues, and by civil society organizations with access to women’s networks. Advocates for women’s inclusion have turned to this mechanism in reaction to the frequently cited problem of not being able to find qualified women for senior positions. Although providing lists of women may serve to remind decision-makers that there are indeed qualified women, these types of rosters have a poor track record. The majority of interviewees were convinced that rosters of female candidates do not work as a mechanism to increase the numbers of women in senior leadership positions. Indeed, rosters of high level female candidates have never been successfully embraced within the system as a source for candidates.
A few high level women said that they would not want their names on one of these lists, as they would not want to advertise the fact that they were looking for possible positions.lx Those who have been selected for SRSG’s and other top positions were approached and offered the positions through much more informal networks and processes. There are many reasons why lists of female candidates at high levels provided by civil society have usually failed to influence the decision making process, including the fact that the candidates on these lists are usually not “known” within the system, that they are not pre-cleared, and that they often do not match the mission and position needs.
It appears that the most successful rosters have been those that focus on specific types of expertise, such as rule of law, humanitarian relief, etc., not those based on gender. Both external and internal rosters, such as CANADEM and UNDP, demonstrate that rosters can be developed to reflect diversity and gender balance goals. Overall, rosters have been much more utilized at the professional levels, while those that focus on the very senior levels, in which selection occurs based on a more political process, have not been utilized. The new roster that is being developed by the Senior Appointments Section will be a test case of whether such a roster, comprised of male and female candidates, for the highest positions in peace operations, can in fact be effective in improving the recruitment of talented leaders.
Improving the current system is difficult, as there is no tracking mechanism to understand what outreach is effective. Interviews are not conducted of successful candidates to evaluate their recruitment and experience, and there is no indicator on Galaxy applications of how an individual learned of a particular vacancy announcement. For those offices tasked with improving recruitment and increasing women’s numbers, the lack of data proves to be a real inhibitor to requests for additional funding. In turn, without a budgetary allocation for advertising or travel for outreach, overworked staff members are laboring to fulfill an unfunded or under-funded mandate.
Retention and Advancement Problems: The Truncated Career Ladder for Women
“To develop senior managers, we need to start now with younger people and groom them for these roles.”
–UN Member State Representative
The women who overcome these obstacles and join the UN peacekeeping system do not tend to stay. Women’s numbers drop dramatically between entry-level professionals and mid- and senior management. While women make up nearly 30 percent of international staff in peacekeeping operations, they are highly concentrated in the most junior positions.lxi For example, at the P-2 level, which is generally administrative, the system is approaching gender parity as women make up 42.8 percent of staff.lxii However, women fill only 24.4 percent of P-5 positions and only 7.7 percent of D-2 positions in peacekeeping missions.lxiii Junior professional women may be leaving the system before they have the opportunity to advance to more senior management positions.
“It’s extraordinarily challenging to staff missions. The conditions of service must change, and job security must improve, and we need to develop staff.” –Donna Maxfield, Chief, Personnel Management and Support Services, DFS
The UN experiences faster turnover of women than men, and it is reportedly difficult to keep even women managers in field positions for more than one year.lxiv Some point to poor management in missions, arduous working conditions, and fatigue. Others note a desire for work-life balance or the variety of available professional opportunities. There are also structural problems that contribute to women’s departure. Interviewees point to the lack of a career track and professional development in the UN system, noting that the organization is not structured to groom staff at the mid-level. One woman who entered the UN later in her career and has served in several peacekeeping missions said that if she had entered the UN when she was younger, she would have found the system challenging and disheartening. “In the UN, if you are a woman and can get your foot in the door, great. But then you are on your own.”lxv Several women, even senior managers, feel as if they are “stuck” in certain classifications, particularly in “soft” sectors such as human resources.lxvi One woman who had served in many senior leadership capacities for the UN pointed to the fact that women in the system are not given the positions and roles that will give them the visibility and the skills for future leadership positions. “Women end up in front offices, as special assistants – they run the shop,” while men get the assignments that lead to powerful positions.lxvii
Conditions of Service: The Giant Roadblock in the Road
According to the Secretary-General, “some 51 percent of the professional staff serving in United Nations peace operations have two years experience or less with the organization…”in part because of the conditions of service in field missions.lxviii DPKO staff reportedly receive lower compensation packages than other UN agencies—up to 40 percent lower for senior field positions.lxix Perhaps even more importantly for female staff, the vast majority of DPKO missions are designed as non-family duty posts even in locations where the staff of other UN agencies and funds are permitted to bring spouses and children. DFS human resources staff report that problems are becoming exacerbated by the fact that men under 40 increasingly refuse to spend months or years away from their family either.lxx
The Secretary-General sums up the peacekeeping conditions of service problems as follows: “If the United Nations is to become an employer of choice in today’s highly competitive global market and maintain a workforce capable of meeting the challenges of increasingly complex work in the field, it needs to offer conditions of service which will attract and retain high-quality personnel. At present, the conditions of service offered by the Secretariat are not conducive to this vision…”lxxi Even for staff accustomed to rotating between headquarters and the field, a variety of challenges inhibit their mobility. Release agreements can be difficult to obtain and are not always honored. Upon return to headquarters, demotions are frequent.
“Strong, qualified women who are willing to go to the field are in high demand and have choices. DPKO is not a competitor.”lxxii
According to Assistant Secretary-General Jane Lute, “peacekeeping relies on the peak-contributing professional years” of men and women, and the agency must be able to attract these individuals. Overall, the rigidity of UN rules for human resources in peacekeeping is a challenge to reform. DPKO’s budget is based on member state contributions, leaving little room for flexibility or response to mission needs, including personnel. Dysfunctional human resource rules that inhibit recruitment, such as unequal service conditions and low compensation, can only be altered with direction from member states.
Lute described ongoing efforts by the peacekeeping agency to elevate women’s role in field missions and at headquarters, noting that “a bureaucratic approach is by no means trivial.”lxxiii At the time of publication, for example, the General Assembly was preparing to address the recommendations of the SecretaryGeneral with regard to human resources reform in the UN, including harmonization of service conditions. At a cost of at least $200 million, it may
take time for member states to recognize the critical importance of this issue, despite the persistent recommendations of the Secretary-General and DPKO leadership. Aside from the cost, part of the problem with moving this forward is the disagreement among member states about specific recommendations on harmonization.
It is precisely this human resources framework that proves nearly impossible to change, and the enormity of it seems to have created a sense of disempowerment to make other, smaller, but still significant changes in recruitment and retention approaches. In fact, throughout the interview process for this report, it was apparent that the size and significance of these obstacles are used as a crutch, a distraction, and even an excuse not to move forward at all. Several senior managers noted: “If harmonization doesn’t happen, then we can’t do anything at all” or “[this is] the political environment [and] how the SG operates; [it’s] just how it is.”lxxiv Leaders tend to defer to the structure with a “we are not in control; the system controls us” approach. There seems to be little willingness to go beyond the rhetorical commitments and recommendations and be creative in practice. Although the unequal conditions of service for peacekeeping personnel is a major challenge to attracting talent – perhaps one of the most fundamental challenges –some action can certainly be taken while awaiting fundamental changes and paradigm shifts in the UN system.
The UNDP Resident Coordinator (RC) Recruitment Process The Resident Coordinator system brings together various UN agencies working in a country to improve the efficiency and positive impact of operational activities in a country. An RC is in charge of leading UN country teams, and is designated representatives of the Secretary-General for development operations. They work closely with national governments, civil society, and the international community, and work to build partnerships between a variety of actors within the business community, intergovernmental agencies, academia, and other groups in society.lxxv Although UNDP has had difficulty recruiting and retaining women, it is improving the selection of women for RC positions. Those involved in selecting and hiring RC’s acknowledge the difficulty in increasing the numbers of female candidates. However, UNDP has set a target of 40 percent women at this level, and currently, approximately 29 percent of Resident Coordinators are women (compared to 26 percent one year ago). lxxvi Two segments of the UNDP process may serve as a process model for bringing in more women into high level civilian positions. First, candidates for RC positions undergo an elaborate competency testing system and assessment process. There is a commitment that 7 out of 10 of the candidates who go through the assessment process are women. Second, UNDP uses an extensive system to match vacancies with candidates. lxxvii The UNDP process for selecting RC’s can take as long as 6 months to complete. The timeline is as follows: The vacancy announcement goes to all 16 field agencies. The agencies put forward names of candidates. Names and CVs then go back to all 16 agencies for references. This is real-time data, including performance appraisal results. The inter-agency panel then reviews the names. They can either a) support the person, b) support with verbal reservation, c) support with written reservation, d) group consensus, or e) doesn’t support. The names then go to the UNDP head. In his capacity as chair of the UN Development Group (UNDG), he examines the recommendations, considering gender, geography, and agency balance. The names go to the Secretary-General who sees the nomination and all the finalists. The SecretaryGeneral accepts the UNDG chair’s recommendations or if appropriate, requests additional candidates. The UNDG chair sends out a letter to all Chief Executive Board (CEB) members with a list of the successful candidates. CEB members are invited to respond with additional input. The host government of the mission is consulted, and must agree to the nomination. The approval process can be lengthy if the government requires cabinet or parliamentary confirmation. The UN Development Group keeps three rosters: Pool A (unassigned and available); Pool B (not available); and Pool C (assigned). lxxviii
lxxv lxxvi lxxvii lxxviii
PART TWO: THE VIEW FROM WITHIN – WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP ROLES
Interviews with women who have taken senior level positions in the UN portray a system that is male-dominated and unaccommodating to those with spouses and families. It is a system that is largely based on personal relationships for advancement. Not surprisingly, women encountered discrimination – both blatant and implicit – and in some cases were targets of sexual harassment. However, the double standards and negative attitudes that women inside the UN encountered did not appear to dissuade them from taking on challenging positions in peace operations. Women were overwhelmingly positive about their experiences contributing to field operations. And it is clear that women in senior positions in these missions also have a positive impact on the missions themselves – both in terms of mentoring and supporting younger professional women – and in highlighting the opportunities for women to make contributions to peace and security among the local populations in which these missions operate.
The Career Paths of Senior Level Women
Overwhelmingly, female managers in peacekeeping at headquarters and in the field are career UN staff members who rose through the ranks. Many female leaders in peacekeeping spent time in field missions early in their careers, and returned to headquarters with this knowledge and experience. Many felt they had “earned their spot” with regional or substantive knowledge or strong connections after years of service. “Being male or female didn’t matter” in their selection; what mattered “was whether or not [she] met the qualifications.”lxxix However, nearly all senior women interviewed for this report described experiences of being passed over for jobs they felt qualified for; in most cases, men were granted the posts due to political considerations or geographical background of the individual. Some women reported that advancement in the system is based more on who you know than merit: “You have to learn to make the right friends and position yourself.”
Mentors and contacts with influential positions within the system play a key role in supporting women’s advancement. Often, women managers had a male mentor in the UN system who offered both informal advice as well as formal training. Some women described receiving a “hand up” from a particular male mentor who was “open minded and willing to invest.”lxxx
Those women leaders who joined the UN later in their careers were often recruited individually by a colleague or influential mentor already in the UN system. These often more senior male colleagues helped guide women’s UN careers and recommended them for promotions. Many experienced women who came in from the outside were identified and recruited for senior roles after making extensive contacts within the system as consultants. Almost universally, senior women learned of their posts through their colleagues and networks, not through formal ads or the Galaxy application system. This reflects the reality that, especially at the senior levels, informal entry points into the system are the most common.
Senior women are disproportionately Western. The majority of female managers are unmarried, divorced, and/or without children. This is borne out in statistics. According to a UNDP official, approximately 80 percent of women at the D-2 level in UNDP are single compared with only 40 percent of men at the D-2 level.lxxxi Several women explicitly tied their divorce to their dedication to their career, and others even cited stress-related miscarriages. According to one male senior manager in the UN system: “To be successful in the UN, one must be single, widowed, or divorced… [which is] an indictment on the system.”lxxxii However, most women simply noted: “This is the price women pay… We must be very aware of our choices.”lxxxiii
“Unequal treatment between staff from the Secretariat and staff of the funds and programmes working in the field generates a sense of unfairness and creates obstacles for the Secretariatto attract and retain staff members to perform essential functions in the field… This failure to offer job security and conditions of service that enable the organization to sustain and develop the stable and expert workforce required to work in the uptempo, complex operational environment of United Nations field missions places our organization at financial and managerial risk.” —Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 2006lxxxiv
Senior women in peacekeeping who are married tend to have spouses who are also within the UN system or who they met on the job. These women universally described their husbands as “supportive” and themselves as “lucky” or “fortunate.” One woman concludes: “A supportive spouse has been key to my success.”lxxxv Still, these women must make trade-offs. Some agree not to return to field missions even though, for example, “it was the best time in their lives.”lxxxvi Others agree to go to the field only if “reentry” to a position in New York was guaranteed after the tour.lxxxvii Nearly all married women note that there is little support for dual career couples in the UN, particularly with regard to field missions. This is a system that was built for professional men with stay-at-home wives.
Working Conditions for Senior Level Women: Attitudes, Biases, and Behaviors
The low numbers of women in senior level positions is not unique to peacekeeping within the UN system. Many women at headquarters find that the Secretariat, in particular, is still a tight network dominated by men, that many obstacles exist to women’s promotion, and that the processes for advancement remain opaque. Despite assistance by male mentors, some senior women have “never felt really accepted” and believe they are still somewhat seen as “outsiders.”lxxxviii Senior women pointed to insidious discrimination within the system, whereby women who do attain senior management positions are marginalized from the important meetings and decisions. When the women interviewed for this report had not experienced blatant discrimination or sexism within the UN system, they were quick to note this is “a rarefied experience.”lxxxix
The Double Standard for Women
When women do assume high-level positions in peace operations, various interviewees discussed the higher standard they are judged by: “If a woman in one of these positions is not doing a great job, she is judged more harshly than a man in her position.”xc Another senior manager summarizes the situation as follows: “Men are given the benefit of the doubt to transfer from one job to another. There have been some disasters with male SRSG’s, but it doesn’t seem to dissuade anyone from selecting other men. Women are held to a different standard.”xci Outside experts concur that male SRSG’s are frequently recycled to other missions without real regard to their performance:
“The UN accepts mediocrity because it is safe… He is a nice, safe choice.”xcii None of the seven women SRSG’s in UN history has led more than one mission.
“An ineffective woman in a post does more damage than an ineffective man. If a woman fails, then ‘gender’ fails. Failing men don’t seem to hurt [their advancement].”xciii
The spotlight shines brightly on women in leadership positions. Several interviewees observed that when a high-profile woman fails, the agenda for women’s participation and leadership experiences an overall setback. According to the Secretary-General’s Senior Adviser on Gender Issues and Women’s Empowerment, “Regrettably, if one woman is not the right one, then it is thought that women cannot do the job.”xciv In all positions in a peace operation, “Women must prove their worth. Mistakes are very visible. They become ostracized on the team as a result—even though men make mistakes that go less noticed.”xcv The pressure is very high for women to succeed, as subsequent appointments may depend on it.
Unfortunately, the first peacekeeping mission headed by woman was set up for failure, which had negative implications on the way women’s abilities to lead
peacekeeping missions was viewed. Angola was not a political mission, but a military mission with inherent problems from the outset. Several sources reported that Dame Margaret Anstee, who served as the first female SRSG, was perceived as “soft,” and wasn’t taken seriously by the military men in the mission. When the mission failed, it led to the perception that a woman had failed.xcvi
Several senior managers expressed concern regarding the high expectations for the combination of a woman president, woman SRSG, and woman DSRSG in Liberia: “[There is] the potential for disaster for the women’s argument if they fail.”xcvii Only when women reach leadership positions in higher numbers will this spotlight dim.
Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
Dame Margaret JoanAnstee, the first female SRSG, described vocal attacks by the public and the media in Angola as“laden with sexualinnuendo…UNITA’s Vorgan radio launched another vicious tirade, not only repeating all the old allegations but calling me a prostitute and threatening that a stray bullet would find me if I stayed inAngola.”xcviii
Several women interviewed experienced open gender-based discrimination during their time in the field. In most instances, the events had occurred in peace operations in the early or mid-1990s. Dame Margaret Joan Anstee, details her experience in Never Learn to Type: A Woman at the United Nations. She describes vocal attacks by the public and the media in Angola as “laden with sexual innuendo…UNITA’s Vorgan radio launched another vicious tirade, not only repeating all the old allegations but calling me a prostitute and threatening that a stray bullet would find me if I stayed in Angola.”xcix Thus, not only were female heads of mission subject to the usual threats of warring parties, but these attacks were frequently tinged with a sexual component.
A few women interviewed for this report were the targets of sexual discrimination by their own colleagues. Some filed formal complaints as a result and reported that the system responded well. For others, when they complained or resisted the attention and flirtations, they were labeled a “feminist” and further harassed.c There were also reports of blatant discrimination, such as deliberately firing women in a peace mission who became pregnant. “Women must be constantly aware of themselves and their situations” while on peace operations.ci For some women, this felt like “reality…I was on their turf,” only becoming angry after leaving the mission.cii
Others reported that they were viewed as a sexual object by their colleagues, which led to difficult relationships and hindered their job performance. They attempted to work within these constraints and even respond to flirtation when it was the only way possible to get the job done. Women in the lower ranks continue to note implicit discrimination based on cultural and traditional assumptions of male-dominated missions and the local population— biases and stereotypes more common than blatant discrimination. Many interviewees noted that the SRSG sets the tone. When he/she promotes a working environment friendly toward women, then others in the mission tend to follow suit.
Negative Attitudes and Creative Responses
Implicit negative attitudes and biases are common. Such attitudes, particularly in the military and diplomatic communities, continue to surprise senior women. If the world of diplomacy is male-dominated, peacekeeping is even more so.ciii Senior women who had worked for many years in multicultural environments reported that many people in the UN are entrenched in outdated mentalities, especially concerning gender and women. Some senior women note that, even today, they are occasionally thought to be secretaries or administrative assistants when they enter a room, especially in military situations.
Often this is compounded by misunderstandings about the meaning of gender considerations. Eyes still “glaze over” when senior women raise gender issues, creating a sense that they must carefully “calibrate their words” and measure how and when to say things to have the most effectciv One interviewee noted that when gender “is only referred to with regard to women, it creates a backlash, but if gender is shown to relate to women and men, there is more receptiveness to the specific challenges that each faces.”cv
Women who regularly work with all-male military units have found creative ways to address this issue, such as immediately introducing themselves and even giving their “military rank equivalent,” which has effectively dispelled any potential problems for her.cvi Other women concur, noting they needed to “earn the trust and respect” of male colleagues inside and outside of the UN system in the peace and security field.cvii For example, some women cited the initial difficulties they encountered when dealing with military and intelligence officials in the field but acknowledged that they were able to win respect almost immediately. “Once you prove yourself, they get over” any biases they may have had.cviii
Positive Experiences, Bureaucratic Challenges
It appears that women feel they may have more flexibility, freedom, and potential to make an impact in field missions, where they often assume higher-grade positions than at UN headquarters. However, the non-family duty status of DPKO missions has prevented some women from taking advantage of this opportunity as often as they would have liked. Others have gone to the field with their families, assuming responsibility on their own. Women and men also report difficulties leaving their headquarters jobs for higher classifications and having to return to their previous jobs in the Secretariat at lower classifications. In other cases, despite a release agreement, women and men are replaced. One female manager notes: While in the field, “you are forgotten in headquarters where the politics is happening.”cix
Women in high-level positions within the UN system tend to stick together, which is important because they often report being far too overworked to go outside the system for support.cx Many senior women point to changes in the system and culture in just the past two years as a result of the heightened awareness of women’s role and a more concerted effort to recruit women for senior posts in peace missions.
For many women, their experiences in peace operations were “very positive.”cxi Other senior managers said they “really enjoyed it and would do it again.”cxii Although various peacekeeping leaders continue to suggest that women do not want to go to the field, this assumption was disputed by the majority of female interviewees. One female manager said: “Don’t assume that women’s won’t come [to the field]. It can be done if the framework allows you to do it. It is possible.”cxiii
The Impact of Senior Level Women
According to the evidence obtained in interviews, the presence of senior women influences the process and outcomes of peace operations in four key ways.
Approach and Style as Leaders
“Soft-spoken womenSRSG’s can put men off. Soft-spoken menSRSG’s do not put men off.”cxiv
Senior level women interviewed for this report frequently discussed their participatory approach and their conflict resolution skills, but all were reluctant to attribute that to their gender. They described the source of their style as personality, temperament, or how they were trained. “Leadership style is more about personal style than about being male or female.”cxv Still, most women defined their approach in terms that are often considered feminine: “peoplecentered”,cxvi “collaborative”,cxvii “consultative, open, and inclusive.”cxviii Regardless of nationality, women interviewed for this study repeatedly used the same words to describe their leadership styles.
Specific differences were cited by interviewees in the way women view leadership and power. One interviewee described that many women in these positions view leadership as a contribution-based, rather than a power-based role. In fact, many women who entered the UN at senior levels said that one of the reasons for accepting positions in the field was that they were attracted to the opportunity to make a difference.
In the field, in particular, “it wasn’t about dictating” to the host population.cxix One female manager noted that “women show leadership in a quiet way.”cxx Another noted that “human directed leadership” was more effective in these situations, while recognizing that this style is not exclusively utilized by women. Many pointed to the fact that women bring contacts, communications, and trust building to the community. There is a sense that women leaders can bring creative approaches to difficult conflict situations. A female former SRSG believes that she “did many things differently in terms of managing, even within DPKO standard operating procedures.”cxxi This same woman described her approach as neither confrontational nor did she back down or run away from a problem. Within the political environment, she worked with the parties to prove that she was acting in their interest, while allowing them the public space to claim progress. Some interviewees believe that women SRSG’s actually negotiate differently, not wanting to impose a solution but create a system that works for everyone, that brings “the greatest good to the greatest number.”cxxii
Cultural awareness is key, and interviewees noted that women tend to be more careful in this regard, and are often viewed as bridge builders both inside and outside the mission. In some local and cultural contexts, a feminine leadership style may be more acceptable than other approaches. At the outset of operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there were numerous female section chiefs, including a woman DSRSG, which reportedly “made an impact at the working level.”cxxiii A former female SRSG even noted on the effect women can have on working relationships in New York: “it would make such a difference even between DPA and DPKO at headquarters if women were there. They discuss real issues and see how they can solve them.”cxxiv Women who have worked in situations where there has been a critical mass of woman note that there is a difference in the conversation and the way decisions are made. Some noted that when there is not a critical mass, women in leadership tend to behave like men, but when there are more women, the dynamic moves to a more multidimensional decision-making process.
Interviewees believe this is related to the tendency for women managers to be “less self-involved and selfconcerned” than some men.cxxv Women typically spend less time on self-promotion, which can actually be beneficial to the action-oriented setting of a peace mission. The fact that many women “still have to wash and iron shirts” despite their high-level UN positions leads some interviewees to believe that women have a stronger sense of modesty and an ability to connect with staff and the host community.cxxvi However, this same tendency can be detrimental in terms of women gaining visibility in leadership roles. One female manager notes that “women don’t push themselves forward enough,” and are more comfortable in less visible roles, including herself among them.cxxvii She described her tendency to defer to others to lead inter-departmental meetings as an example of a daily leadership act that men would likely seize.
DFS human resource managers note that it takes both a traditional and a collaborative approach to be an effective leader. Some women admit they have been accused of being consultative to the point of not making a decision. The Chief of Personnel Management and Support Services deliberately tries to strike a balance between a male and female approach: “We need to be consultative and discuss things, but there is also a time to make a decision. The Division is becoming healthier in this way…We must pull the best from both approaches.”cxxviii
Many of those interviewed for this study pointed out that the participation of women in peace operations improves the effectiveness of the missions.cxxix DPKO missions operate in fragile communities. The ability of women to reach half of the local population—women and girls—that male peacekeepers may not be able to reach has led TCCs and PCCs to declare women’s participation in missions as an “operational imperative.”cxxx Research and anecdotal evidence increasingly highlights women’s ability in peace operations to obtain information that might otherwise not be shared, reduce tensions with the local population, improve crowd control, increase trust and confidence of the host community, and improve women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated fields.cxxxi Other research has shown how including women in negotiating peace agreements and in post-conflict governance can decrease the likelihood of returning to conflict.cxxxii Various cases also demonstrate that women are perceived as less threatening to parties in conflict situations, which allow them to more easily access information and negotiate with combatants or political factions.
Women in high-level positions in field missions tend to demonstrate a willingness to tackle difficult issues, such as rape and sexual violence, in part, out of concern for the victims and identification with other women. This is particularly relevant in the wake of reports of sexual violence and misconduct by peacekeepers in 2005. In fact, Assistant Secretary-General Lute acknowledges: “My operating assumption is that this is either a problem or a potential problem in every single one of our missions,”cxxxiii leading the UN to create conduct and discipline teams at headquarters and in 10 missions.cxxxiv Women in senior positions at the UN expressed particular concern about this problem,cxxxv and although both men and women in the UN and in the mission need to address these issues, it is expected that women in leadership roles will take action.
Recognition of the Importance of Women’s Participation
Who the decision-makers are—men or women—affect the decisions that are made. One senior level woman manager said that a key motivation for taking a role in the process was to “make a small dent” on this issue from the inside—to bring women in.cxxxvi
Even those women managers who are not in human resource positions frequently make the search for women candidates a personal mission. In fact, they are often approached for names of other women when an opening becomes available for an appointment. Some senior level women have taken a more proactive role: One female Assistant Secretary-General identifies senior level women and examines them in action. If she is impressed, she asks for their CVs. She then approaches DPKO and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General with specific candidates who she thinks would be a good fit for senior jobs in peace operations.”cxxxvii
Many women managers in field missions tend to hire other women, purposefully bringing them on to their teams and supporting those in more junior positions. Women often demonstrate a commitment to mentor other women and support their careers. Senior level women who were interviewed expressed deep respect for the work ethic and abilities of women who had served on their staffs or as colleagues.
Building the Leadership Pipeline:
Women Supporting Women in the Humanitarian Field
Several former and current senior level women at the UN mentioned their participation in a new initiative called The Women’s Humanitarian Network (WHN). WHN was created in 2007 by a group of female graduate students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as a forum to foster knowledge sharing, support, and career growth for women in humanitarian affairs. WHN defines “humanitarian affairs” broadly to encompass inter alia peacekeeping, relief, development, human rights, and other work that involves spending substantial time in the field.
The students who founded WHN recognized that many young women aspire to work in the field and then transition to senior level decision-making positions in international and non-governmental organizations. WHN is identifying women role models who have negotiated these challenges successfully. Students are able to tap into the knowledge of these women by participating in the network. A significant component of WHN is the mentorship program, which pairs a recent Columbia graduate student with a senior level woman in the humanitarian field, and has successfully involved accomplished women from the UN and other organizations.cxxxviii
This influence extends beyond their colleagues. In Chile, when Michele Bachelet became the defense minister, the door was opened for women’s participation in military schools. A recruitment campaign was targeted to women, which generated 2,000 applications from women for 200 student openings at the naval academy.cxxxix Women’s numbers have improved as a result of now President Bachelet’s efforts, including in Chile’s contingents for peace operations. In Burundi, then SRSG Carolyn McAskie openly advocated for women’s participation during both the 1999 peace talks and in the elections. In her words, “during the elections in 2005, we were trying to get the parties to include women candidates to meet the constitutional requirement that parliament have 30% women. Now they have achieved 30% of women in the parliament and there are key women ministers in the cabinet.”cxl While female leaders do not always represent women’s concerns or advocate for women, this trend surfaced throughout the interviews for this report.
Senior level officials, both men and women, are beginning to advocate more vocally for expanding the ranks of women in international peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts. For example, the Oslo Forum of Mediators initiated an effort to promote more women to senior international mediation and special envoy positions. Following the June 2007 Forum, former SRSG Dame Margaret Anstee, independent expert Elizabeth Rehn, and Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh sent a letter to the leadership of the UN, European Union, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which called for action on this issue. In November 2007, Anstee, Rehn, and Cavanaugh met with top UN officials to discuss how to increase female appointments. This will be a central theme at the June 2008 Oslo Mediators Forum.cxli
“Women within the mission are key if you’re going to send a message to the local population. It’s critical that contributing countries are representative.”
—Former female police officer in a regional peace operationcxlii
In many countries, peacekeeping missions are the most visible reflection of the UN and its values. When women are visible in the mission, particularly in senior roles, an example is set for women’s post-war participation post-conflict in political, economic, and even military roles. A former female police officer in a regional peace operation found this to be especially important in her work: “Women within the mission are key if you’re going to send a message to the local population. It’s critical that contributing countries are representative.”cxliii While that statement was a reflection on her experience in a specific mission, the sentiment is increasingly being echoed in other places. The 2006 meeting of TCCs and PCCs also noted explicitly that “women in the host community value the presence of female peacekeepers as role models.”cxliv Role modeling of
women in security positions proved effective in post-war South Africa when the
first female deputy defense minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge reportedly
“broke stereotypes and helped in terms of changing people’s perspectives of women in this role.”cxlv
Intentionally or otherwise, women in leadership positions in field missions are seen as role models for women within peace operations—both within the mission and to the host country. One woman manager notes: “There’s a symbolic role model aspect to having women in these positions.”cxlvi Junior women find that it is helpful to have a woman above them in a leadership role, in part, simply because it sends a message that “things have changed” and that this mission is “different” than others.cxlvii Often, women do not realize that they were such powerful role models to younger women in the system. Several women managers in field missions noted their surprise when national and international female staff approached them to express appreciation for their leadership. Women who served in these positions acknowledge how important it was to provide reassurance, and confidence-building for women in more junior stages of their careers. All of the women who were interviewed discussed the positive effects that they could have on younger female staff. Some women managers in peace operations are self-described caretakers.cxlviii Female senior managers mentioned their desire to “protect” women on their staff and in the host country; “it was second nature for me.” cxlix One former SRSG said, “It was important for women to know that I was fighting for them.” Senior women who were perceived to have juggled the dual roles of career and family, reported that they were approached often by younger women who were struggling with these choices in their own lives.
Women in Senior Leadership in Military and Police
Peace operations are managed by a team of senior leaders that goes beyond SRSG’s and their deputies. Force commanders and police commissioners lead the military and police operations of the mission. At the time of this report, zero women held senior appointments in military units—force commanders, deputy force commanders, or force chiefs of staffcl—and three women held senior positions in police components of peacekeeping missions (Senior Police Advisor in Burundi, Senior Police Advisor in Cyprus, and Deputy Police Commissioner in Darfur).cli The dearth of senior women in these areas is primarily attributed to the fact that very few member states have women in colonel-level posts or above. Thus, increasing the gender balance at the senior levels of military and policing forces in peacekeeping will be long process, as women will need to rise up the ranks at the national level in many of these countries first. In countries where women are in senior military positions—the US has three women three-star generals, for example, and 22 percent of the US Senior Executive Service posts are filled by womenclii—then they are needed in their current posts, are not available for peacekeeping missions, or have their choice of overseas deployment locations.cliii
Nevertheless, DPKO and DFS actively encourage member states to put women’s names forward for these positions. Force commanding directives now cite UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and obligate Force Commanders to consider this mandate when assigning duties and making operational plans. Force Commanders are explicitly required to maintain equal conditions for men and women under his/her command and are asked to include the issue of gender equality and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in quarterly and final reports, including sex-disaggregated data and information on relevant quick-impact projects.
DFS/DPKO is considering the development of performance evaluation criteria to track the progress of Force Commanders on the directive’s requirements.cliv
PART THREE: RECENT PROGRESS AND THE WAY FORWARD
From the statistics in the previous sections, it is clear that UN peacekeeping remains male-dominated, particularly at the leadership levels. Even in New York, there is only one woman Assistant Secretary-General in peacekeeping and two women at the D-2 level in DPKO and DFS combined. In addition, a woman was recently appointed as Under Secretary-General for DFS. There has been significant forward movement at headquarters and in the field over the past two years as a result of the growing recognition of the need for talent in peacekeeping. High vacancy and turnover rates have created an incentive for institutional and cultural changes in order to find qualified candidates, which in turn, have opened opportunities for women’s participation. At the same time, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of women’s participation in peace and security at the highest levels. Sources inside the UN say that the current Secretary-General is committed to this issue.
Recent reforms and pro-active initiatives within DFS and DPKO have led to almost immediate progress. In 2007 alone, women’s numbers in senior peacekeeping positions in the field increased from 27 to 37—a 37 percent increase in a matter of months.clv
Senior Leadership Appointments
“Tokenism or placing women simply for the sake of placing women, is not helpful to anybody. It’s not good for the Organization, for the particular mission, or for the woman herself.” –Ariel Morvan, Chief, Senior Leadership Appointments Section, DFSclvi
The first of these major initiatives was the creation of a Senior Leadership Appointments Section inside the Office of the DFS Under Secretary-General in October 2006. This four-person team is attempting to bring more clarity and transparency to the selection process for senior peacekeeping appointments, primarily SRSG’s and DSRSG’s. The Section has a roster of 400 qualified men and women, which is mined to provide the SecretaryGeneral with three or four candidates to consider for each available post. Out of personal commitment—not a formal mandate—the Chief aims to include at least one woman on every short list of candidates received by the SecretaryGeneral.clvii
The Section’s roster was created by identifying open senior posts in peacekeeping, determining qualifications and establishing an appropriate profile for each mission assignment, and seeking out individuals that meet these requirements. In this short time, in addition to compiling an initial
roster, the Senior Leadership Appointments Section has created a candidate profile and template for the SecretaryGeneral and the appointments panel to evaluate all candidates. In its second year, the Section will develop standard operating procedures, clarify its role, get the roster “to a healthy place,” and conduct more outreach inside and outside the UN, particularly to non-Western member states.clviii
Despite being understaffed, the Senior Leadership Appointments Section is “making the difference,” according to gender experts within the UN.clix Human resource managers agree, noting that the Section has coordinated particularly well with desk officers.clx Still, the Section’s planned outreach will be critical. Several representatives of member states on the Security Council who were interviewed for this report were either not aware of the office’s existence or had not yet been approached by the Section to provide candidates for the roster or for recent appointments.clxi Similarly, at least one woman senior manager recently hired for a peacekeeping mission had no contact with the Section and only learned of its existence after assuming her position.clxii
Recruitment and Outreach
A woman is also heading the new DFS Recruitment and Outreach Unit, created in May 2006. With only seven officers, the Unit’s mandate covers applicants for 22 occupational groups and 512 position titles. Staff review each application for peacekeeping field positions in Galaxy, conduct preliminary interviews with those who have no field experience, clear a list of at least three candidates for each position, and send these names to the mission level or substantive experts for the technical clearance process. When the Unit was formed, there was a backlog of 200,000 applications, which is now steadily being addressed. The Unit is also reviewing current applications and informing new candidates of where they stand in the process.clxiii
The Recruitment and Outreach Unit is also reviewing vacancy announcements to ensure they are attracting candidates with the appropriate background and experience. “Gender sensitivity is now incorporated in all vacancy announcements.”clxiv A random scan of vacancy announcements reveals that, in fact, one of the competency requirements for environmental engineers in peacekeeping missions is: “commitment to implementing the goal of gender equality by ensuring the equal participation and full involvement of women and men in all aspects of peace operations.”clxv Similar language is in place in vacancy announcements for Legal Officers, Associate Human Rights Officers, Finance Officers, Police Training Officers, Administrative Officers, and senior Civil Affairs Officers, among others. Furthermore, the Recruitment and Outreach Unit has declared women to be the first “filter” for every position.clxvi That is, women candidates are prioritized for the DFS review and clearance process.
To fulfill the growing number of open positions in peacekeeping missions, this Unit has begun more targeted outreach inside and outside the UN system, visiting universities, professional conferences, and thematic events around the world. Given limited staff resources, the office focuses outreach to areas of the greatest need, such as Arabic speakers, logistics, and procurement. In many cases, however, the professional women’s organizations in engineering or logistics, for example, remain heavily US and Canadian-centric. In addition to outreach, the Unit uses a standard list of partners to distribute vacancy announcements, including women’s organizations. Some women’s groups have approached the Unit directly and were added to the circulation list for vacancies. Otherwise, staff members have dedicated time to web searches, seeking out women’s networks and other groups to post the vacancies.
At headquarters, as of 2006, the Logistics Support Division made up 40 percent of DPKO staffing, but only 17.4 percent of these professionals were women.clxvii This compares to 37.43 percent professional women throughout the Secretariat, clearly demonstrating the challenge of identifying and attracting women to a traditionally maledominated field that includes positions such as engineering, fuel management, and aviation and air safety.clxviii In response, the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) partnered with DPKO to conduct research and make recommendations on the recruitment of women for logistics positions at headquarters. Several action items from this report are being addressed, including targeted outreach to women candidates. A temporary Gender Outreach Officer was tasked in 2007 to initiate outreach to women in logistics positions primarily through the development of a database and print and online advertising. However, there are little funds dedicated to this effort. The Gender Outreach post expired early in 2008, and currently there is no gender capacity in the Logistics Support Division.clxix Dedicated capacity to recruit women for logistics positions at headquarters is seen as critical, a “real necessity” according to DPKO’s Gender Affairs Officer, a means for practical implementation of the mandates of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.clxx
Other mechanisms and activities to improve recruitment for peacekeeping posts include the following:
Greater collaboration in the recruitment of “joint DSRSG’s”—In most peacekeeping missions, there are two DSRSG’s: one for political affairs and one for development. The recruitment process for the DSRSG for development was revised in 2007 to increase collaboration and decision-making between DPA, DPKO, UNDP, and OCHA. The process now includes joint development of job qualifications and vacancy announcements; nominations by 16 UN agencies from a pre-approved list of UNDP’s Resident Coordinator candidates or outside suggestions (see Box: The UNDP Resident Coordinator Recruitment Process); selection of a short list for interviews with OCHA, UNDP, DPA, and DPKO; and a final joint recommendation to the Secretary-General along with two alternate candidates. For all other DSRSG’s, DPKO alone nominates the candidates. The large pool of pre-screened Resident Coordinators, of which half are women, leads to a greater number of women candidates on the short list than the selection process for other DSRSG’s.clxxi
A new Enterprise Resource Planning system—The UN is in the process of building an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that will replace Galaxy in two or three years.clxxii According to the Secretary-General: “The ERP system will facilitate the integration of currently fragmented process aspects of human resources management…” A major component of the ERP will be an e-staffing software package that “conforms to best practices in the use of technology for recruitment.”clxxiii
A new talent search system—The Secretariat is currently seeking vendors to develop a talent search system, which DFS will share so that outreach is centralized for both headquarters and field positions.
Increased outreach to civil society—DFS and DPKO have begun to regularly discuss the issue of peacekeeping recruitment with non-governmental organizations outside the UN system. For example, in October 2007, the Project on Justice in Times of Transition in partnership with the International Crisis Group, the German Mission to the United Nations, and DLA Piper facilitated a meeting bringing together senior DFS staff with a variety of external actors for an all-day dialogue on “Broadening the UN’s Access to Qualified Candidates for the Field.” The meeting generated recommendations for increased collaboration.clxxiv
Institutional Culture: Changing for the Better?
Beyond these new structures are changes in attitudes, behavior, and institutional culture at headquarters and in the field. Some senior managers at headquarters and in the field—both men and women—have expressed and demonstrated a personal commitment to increasing women’s participation. At least three male SRSG’s have specifically requested women candidates when seeking to fill their deputy positions and other senior management posts, as well as their own replacements upon transfer or retirement.clxxv In some cases, the hiring process was delayed until qualified women candidates were at least included in the applicant pool and interview process.
Within DFS, in just the past two years, key senior level human resources and outreach positions are now occupied by women. All have made vocal commitments to fulfilling the mandates of Security Council Resolution 1325 and are working on a daily basis to make this a practical reality:
Advocating for harmonization of conditions of service in peace operations, to remove a primary obstacle to women’s ability and decision to deploy to the field.clxxvi
Pressing for allocation of resources for sufficient gender expertise within DPKO.
Encouraging transfers for women to male-dominated departments and vice versa. Because Human Resources is 85 percent women and logistics is nearly 100 percent men, two staff agreed to transfer between departments.clxxvii
Incorporating gender sensitivity in vacancy announcements and making women candidates a priority in the clearance process.
Including a female candidate on every short list of three candidates reviewed by the appointments panel and the Secretary-General.
While there is no concrete reason to believe men in these positions would have not taken the same action, one can argue that having women in these important personnel positions has had—and will continue to have—an impact on the recruitment of women.
“It makes a difference having women in personnel. If you have gotten here, then you know how it is… There is demonstrated commitment on a personal level. If I can do something [to advance women] I will.” —Donna Maxfield, Chief, Personnel Management and Support Services, DFSclxxviii
As the number and complexity of UN peacekeeping operations continues to increase, so does the need for experienced professionals to lead and manage these missions. Since the end of the Cold War, the number of UN peacekeeping missions has risen by more than 400 percent. The critical need for personnel is compounded by a chronic vacancy problem and high turnover in peacekeeping missions. In addition, as the mandates of peacekeeping missions have expanded to include peacebuilding and reconstruction, it has also become clear that a multitude of skills, experiences, and perspectives are necessary to staff these missions. Unfortunately, the UN is missing opportunities to tap into a rich source of talent for leadership roles in peacekeeping operations: women. The UN needs qualified women, but it also has the obligation to ensure their participation.
The UN has committed itself to 50-50 gender balance throughout the organization, and to the equal participation of women in all aspects of peace processes, including peacekeeping. In addition, in recent years, there has been increasing recognition of women’s efforts to build sustainable peace, and the positive impact women’s participation can have on peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. However, commitments and public pronouncements about the importance of women’s participation have not resulted in significant improvement in women’s numbers. Only seven women have ever held the post of Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and only one woman serves in this position currently.
The UN is failing to market peacekeeping opportunities to women effectively, to recruit women for senior level roles, and to promote and support the advancement of women within the UN system. There are clear problems with non-transparency, lack of marketing and outreach, and a system in which promotion and advancement is often biased in favor of those with powerful allies and supporters. At the senior leadership level, the recruitment process is opaque, highly political, and has proven virtually impossible for those outside the system to understand or influence. Even when women candidates for SRSG positions “make it on the short list” in the decision-making process, various factors such as the pursuit of geographic balance and favoritism toward certain candidates often work against women, especially those who are less well-known. At the professional levels, the recruitment process is confusing, inefficient, and unable to accommodate the flexibility and speed that is necessary to identify and attract the talent that is needed in field operations. The majority of female UN staff members interviewed for this study were recruited through informal networks and contacts already inside the UN.
The UN is not retaining female staff, as reflected by the fact that the organization experiences higher turnover of women than men. One of the major problems is the unequal conditions for DPKO personnel as compared to other UN components. The vast majority of DPKO missions are designated as non-family duty posts even in locations where the staff of other UN agencies and funds are permitted to bring spouses and children. The non-family duty issue was repeatedly cited as a disincentive to accepting peacekeeping positions.
Women inside the UN are highly concentrated in the most junior positions, and the numbers of women decline sharply at the upper management levels. Women point to lack of career development opportunities and a failure to groom staff at the mid-level for more senior positions. They also experience both blatant and implicit discrimination in headquarters and in the field. However, the double standards and negative attitudes do not dissuade women from taking positions in peace operations; the vast majority of women interviewed for this study were extremely positive about their experiences in the field.
Senior level women described their approaches in field missions similarly, as collaborative, consultative, and inclusive. They often emphasized a personal commitment to women’s participation – inside the missions and in the host country – and to addressing problems that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual abuse and exploitation. Women in leadership positions serve as important role models for younger women in the mission, and as a symbol of women’s participation for the host country.
Recent efforts inside DPKO and DFS to reform the way that human resources are managed, are encouraging. However, the commitment of a few key individuals throughout the UN will only go so far in bringing more women into the system. The UN Secretariat, with adequate support and resources provided by the member states, must prioritize staffing these crucial peacekeeping positions with the best talent available and ensuring that those who serve in difficult and challenging situations are rewarded for their efforts. Increasing the leadership opportunities for women in peace operations will require significant efforts by the UN, member states, and civil society. Each of these relevant actors has an important role to play in moving this issue forward.
The non-transparent processes within the UN, lack of access to data, and the difficulty in finding entry points from the outside, have limited the ability of civil society to formulate strategies to advocate effectively for women’s leadership opportunities. Inside the UN, those who are committed to increasing women’s opportunities are constrained by significant political and bureaucratic realities, as well as the competing priorities, needs, and interests of the member states and the host countries in which the UN operates. Member states have not approved the harmonization reforms that are needed to staff and retain qualified personnel, and recommending female candidates for peacekeeping positions does not appear to be a priority, even in countries that are supportive of Security Council Resolution 1325. Lack of dialogue and partnership among the UN Secretariat, member states, and civil society continues to obstruct the development of new strategies and actions that could ultimately increase women’s advancement and leadership opportunities.
One of the goals of this study is to improve the understanding of the barriers that exist for women while highlighting the perceptions, experiences, and contributions of women who have served in peacekeeping and throughout the larger UN system. Ultimately, WIIS hopes that the data gathered in this report will create an impetus among all relevant actors – inside and outside the UN — to establish new initiatives and policies to increase women’s participation in senior leadership roles. The recommendations that are included in this report emerged from the insights of those who have served in peacekeeping missions, as well as those who seek to improve the effectiveness of future missions. Interviewees from inside and outside the UN system emphasized the need to improve:
Communication and dialogue among the UN Secretariat, member states, and civil society organizations;
Marketing and outreach to women and women’s networks about peacekeeping opportunities;
Resources and personnel to implement needed human resources reforms;
Incentives and rewards to attract qualified women from outside the UN and retain/promote talent already inside the system;
Mechanisms to ensure accountability of senior managers on gender balance goals; • Research, documentation, and sustained advocacy from civil society.
This study is the first project of a multi-phased effort by WIIS to examine women’s leadership opportunities in the peace and security field. WIIS plans to conduct future studies on women in civilian, senior level positions in regional organizations’ peace operations, including the European Union and NATO. WIIS is also launching an inaugural project on the status of women in decision-making positions in the US national security community, including the US Government, the military, academia, and the private sector. The purpose of these projects is to gain a deeper understanding of the status of women in international peace and security careers, at both the national level and within multilateral institutions, to identify challenges to women’s advancement, and to provide recommendations to all relevant actors to more effectively support women’s opportunities to enter, advance, and lead in peace and security.
United Nations Reform: Improving Peace Operations by Advancing the Role of Women. Muscatine, IA, and Washington, DC: The Stanley Foundation and Women in International Security, 2007. Available at: http://wiis.georgetown.edu/documents/UN_Reform_Women1_07.pdf. With permission from the Stanley Foundation and WIIS, portions of the 2007 policy analysis brief were extracted and adapted as background information for this follow-up report.
 In order to encourage frank conversations and open discussions, many interviewees preferred to remain anonymous and are cited as such in the endnotes of this report.