More females are necessary in peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. However, increasing the number of female officers in the field and in senior positions is not sufficient for more effective peace operations. Beyond the image of protected females versus male perpetrators, this article aims to identify what is missing in the debate by deciphering the other side of the monotonous rhetoric on gender, peace, and security. It contributes to the literature by, first, recognizing that women are not only victims of war, but freedom fighters as well as actors of peace. Gender studies should present a picture less based on overstating the victimization of women or on simplistic battle of the sexes that end up reinforcing the gap instead of empowering. It is necessary to distinguish the female roles in peace building from peacemaking and peacekeeping. Second, it analyses the idea of women in blue helmets: a portrait and a reality behind gender, the United Nations, and peacekeeping operations. Finally, it defends that capacity building and empowerment of women should be prioritized over political statistical figures. Consequently, it offers 10 recommendations in line with the principles of equity, equality, and balance for more effective peacekeeping.

Izabela Pereira Watts, PhD, is a Lecturer in International Studies and Political Sciences at the University of Wollongong and in Global Development at the University of New South Wales in Australia. She is a former UN peacekeeper and an expert in peacebuilding, democracy building and fragile states. Book author of “Peace or Democracy? 14 peacebuilding dilemmas after civil wars (upcoming Routledge-UK 2022).”

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