September 14, 2009

Research to strengthen gender security

I recently returned from South Africa where I attended a retreat on priorities and strategies for research capacity strengthening in connection with the UNDP's "Global Initiative for Research on Gender, Crisis Prevention and Recovery" (G-CPR).  The G-CPR is, in part, a response to the anemic implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 and also an acknowledgement of the growing awareness of the links across development, peace, security, human rights and gender. 

Over the course of four days thirty academics, policy researchers, development practitioners, and foundation program officers gathered to identify opportunities, methodologies and priorities for G-CPR research capacity strengthening activities.  What were the greatest research capacity needs?  What constituencies would benefit most from research capacity strengthening?  What are the best methodologies to research, collect, and made accessible the rich experienced-based knowledge that is developed in local communities and among practitioners and policy makers?  These questions, and many others, made for stimulating conversations and a sense of optimism about the future of issues related to gender security.

I came away from the retreat with several ideas that are relevant to both G-CPR and IDN.  First, research on development and related issues must be demand-driven by those who live in the "global south," particularly those affected by lack of development and/or lack of security.  Second, partnerships involving academics, practitioners, policymakers are critical to research, programming and policymaking.  The language of partnership is ubiquitous and, indeed pockets of collaboration take place, but there is a long way to go in improving the politics of partnership.  Finally, research in this area must be driven by feminist ethics and approaches in order to locate gender within broader social processes and work toward social transformation.

The G-CPR is an ambitious and much needed initiative that will address the lack of data on gender and security issues and provided the basis for improved policies, programs and strategies.  This is a critical step toward strengthening UN Security Council resolution 1325 and improving security for women and girls.

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson

Director, Institute for Developing Nations,
Emory University