ABSTRACT

One of the remarkable outcomes of the feminist movement of the late twentieth century has been the development of specialized knowledge about gender relations and the packaging of this knowledge as expertise. The development of gender expertise exploded in response to the wide adoption of gender mainstreaming in international organizations (IOs) and governments. Feminists, organizational consultants and trainers met the demand for gender training, gender analysis, and organizational change, in part bringing to bear their own background in gender studies, in part adding gender expertise to their existing qualifications. Thus, there exists today an international cadre of gender experts who play a key role in translating feminist knowledge into policy applications. UN Women epitomizes such expertise in its professional staff and because it provides an organizational focus for gender experts. What is the significance of these gender experts in advancing feminist agendas? To what extent do they and their expertise constitute feminist strategies? The emergence of gender experts has generated unease among

some feminists who have feared a stifling of radical feminist movement ideas and the co-optation of feminist agendas for governmental purposes.2 But expertise also has long been recognized for its contribution to solving complex problems and its ability to rationalize governance at the international level.3 Scientists have long participated in analyzing problems ranging from underdevelopment to environmental degradation and their knowledge is considered crucial to developing solutions that work. Similarly, gender expertise can be considered as a strategic tool to help pinpoint the reasons for continued gender

inequality and subordination, and to find ways to advance feminist goals. With the adoption of a number of Security Council resolutions on

gender, peace, and security in the new century, gender expertise has gained an unprecedented salience in the security sector. The resolutions have defined a three-fold agenda of protection, participation and prevention. First they call on governments and the United Nations (UN) to provide women protection in particular from sexual violence during times of war and in processes of post-war reconstruction. Second, they appeal to parties to draw on the skills of women and include them in conflict resolution and in decision-making in the rebuilding of societies. And finally, recognizing that gender inequality and gender-based violence contribute to the outbreak of war and to sexual violence during war, they urge governments and UN agencies to mainstream gender considerations into early warning mechanisms and into the training of militaries and peacekeepers. While the women, peace and security agenda is thus fairly broad, in practice governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have focused disproportionately on the problem of gender-based violence and largely disregarded a focus on how considerations of gender could be inserted into efforts to prevent wars. The mandate of inserting considerations of gender into peace and

security activities has led to a proliferation of capacity building activities in the form of gender training. Gender experts are being recruited to conduct such training and to develop training materials. In this paper I explore these materials for what they tell us about the strategic quality of gender expertise in the security sector. Gender expertise is feminist strategy because it is being deployed as a tool to advance feminist goals-however vaguely these may be defined. As outlined in the introduction to this book, such strategy cannot be understood merely as a matter of relating means to ends, of applying the best tools in order to accomplish desired goals. Instead, the means and instruments strategically deployed with an eye towards feminist ends invariably develop their own logics. Accordingly I ask, how does feminist expertise operate? What ends does it define, what arguments does it advance in support of these ends, how does it gain authority, and what are the power effects of such authority? I drawon a strand of Foucaultian-inspired feminist writings that probes the kinds of politics gender expertise makes possible and the kinds of options it precludes.4 The purpose of this approach is not an unveiling of inadvertent ideology or a measuring of practice against an abstract standard of true feminism. Instead, it is to make visible the power politics that is inherent in any strategic effort to change the world.