chapter  1
21 Pages

Women, peace, and security: an introduction

As the quotation above demonstrates, language is arguably one of the most powerful tools in world politics today. The words one chooses, the tone one takes, and the arena in which one speaks all constitute important decisions with often lasting political implications. Essentially, how one frames an issue matters greatly (Butler & Boyer 2003), and language must be seen as more than mere rhetoric (Cohn 1987). Framing not only determines whether and how issues get onto the political agenda, but also how issues are given meaning, operationalized, and adopted into the norm-building process even before becoming part of the official agenda (Keck & Sikkink 1998a; Joachim 2007). Framing governs the actors that are engaged and those that are excluded; frames control the issues that are on and off the agenda (Bob 2005; 2008). In this way, discursive positioning and conceptual frameworks are critical for those involved as well as those not involved in the process (Carpenter 2005; 2007). Nowhere is the power a particular discourse-the “framings of meaning and lens of interpretation” (Hansen 2006: 7)—more evident than the case of framing women’s rights and gender equality as matters essential to the promotion and protection of international peace and security.