Backtalk: How Does the National Military Speak to the International Women Peace and Security Agenda?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Victoria TAIT, Carleton University, Canada
Although NATO forces support the United Nations Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, many now stand in dereliction of their obligation to provide female soldiers to sustain its full implementation, primarily as a result of their inability to recruit and retain female combat soldiers in meaningful numbers (Karim & Beardsley 2015). The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) provides an exemplary case study of this challenge. Despite innovative policies, female representation within the CAF has decreased from 16.7% in 2004 to 14.8% in 2014, and that number drops to 4% in the combat focused occupations of the Army, collectively referred to as the Canadian Combat Arms (CCA) (CAF 2014). The challenge of recruiting and retaining female combat personnel is not limited to the Canadian case; only 0.027% of deployed UN military personnel are female (Jacobson 2012, 6). This project probes the apparent disconnect between Canada’s strong presence in framing and adopting 1325 in the UNSC and NATO with the notable absence of female personnel in the CCA. This presentation will detail findings from the primary phase of Canadian soldier and subject matter expert interviews conducted through 2017-2018. These findings suggest that WPS advocates have been unable to displace the masculinized discourse of the CCA during the norm implementation phase, and therefore positive narratives of WPS have not taken root. I conclude by offering potential best practices for future policy initiatives in gender integration.


  1. Canadian Armed Forces. Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces. Women in the Canadian Armed Forces. [Ottawa]. 2014.
  2. Jacobson, Ruth. “Women after Wars.” In Cohn, Carol, ed. Women and wars: Contested histories, uncertain futures. 215-242 pp. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
  3. Karim, S., Beardsley, K. (2015). Ladies Last, in Gizelis, T-I and Louise Olsson, Gender, Peace and Security: Implementing Security Council Resolution 1325. Routledge: New York.