Why are you interested in sustainability?
'I am interested in sustainability because many environmental issues are directly linked to social justice issues and the power- and decision-making imbalances between the Global North and Global South. In fact, climate change and its consequences, such as floodings and extreme droughts, disproportionately affect women of color with a low-income and marginalized communities, such as Indigenous people. I thus believe, from an intersectional feminist point of view, that it is impossible to address sustainability concerns adequately without also tackling social justice issues.'
Was this theme well represented in the course Gender, Conflict and Security?
'Sustainability as a theme was not much represented in the course Gender, Conflict and Security. This course revolved around Feminist Foreign Policy, how gender is framed and constructed through certain discourses in institutions like the UN, in the militaries and their so-called peacekeeping missions around the world as well as how civilians experience conflicts compared to military personnel, also depending on their gender.'
What new insights did you gain during the course Gender, Conflict and Security?
'Through this course, I discovered the research field Feminist Military Studies and I enjoyed reading more research carried out by women. While I knew already quite a lot about gender constructs and varying forms of femininities and masculinities in general, I had not yet looked at these in the context of armed conflicts and how military personnel are themselves perpetuating expectations based on their gender while also being directly affected by them. Moreover, I learned how to read between the lines of a UN Council Resolution in order to pin-point which aspects might (deliberately) be missing or silenced and how to deconstruct the discourses of military personnel who were invited to give guest lectures. Lastly, I enjoyed questioning the binary conception of gender that was present in the assigned readings and existing research. I wrote a final paper in the form of a policy brief about the issues trans people may face during armed conflict, taking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example, and suggesting amendments to existing UN Resolutions.'
What assignments did you have to do during Gender, Conflict and Security and what did you like the most?
'First, as this course is mainly discussion-based, we had to be well-prepared in order to participate in the discussions by asking critical questions about the assigned readings. Second, we had to prepare a short group presentation to report about a state’s foreign policy and to analyze whether it could be qualified as feminist. This thought us analyzing official state policy documents. Third, we had to write two assignments and one ‘News Radar’. The latter consisted of looking for recent news related to gender and conflict in newspapers or journals, on- and offline, and to use the assigned readings of that week to reflect on the event(s). I really enjoyed writing these weekly assignments because they allowed me to critically reflect on the readings and to ask questions I could not always pose during the classes, mostly due to time-constraints. I believe that all these assignments resulted in much more retention of the content of the readings. Last, the final assignment consisted of writing a policy brief from the point of view of an international organization or governmental institution about a gender policy that is in need of revision. I really enjoyed writing this policy brief as it enabled me to combine the academic literature with news and policy reports and to apply knowledge I had gained outside directly to this course.'
Would you recommend this course to other students?
'I would definitely recommend this course to other students, especially those interested in learning more about discourses regarding gender and the ensuing assumptions and expectations placed onto individuals, whether they are military personnel or civilians. As this course is mainly discussion-based, students get the opportunity to discuss their ideas and their personal experiences and reflect critically on those. Moreover, I believe this course is of great worth for those students wanting to pursue a career in the military field as well as institutions such as the UN.'