Iraqi Women as Legally Vulnerable Subjects: Applying Gender-Mainstreaming and Vulnerability Theory in the Post-Conflict Iraqi State

TitleIraqi Women as Legally Vulnerable Subjects: Applying Gender-Mainstreaming and Vulnerability Theory in the Post-Conflict Iraqi State
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsBreslin, Jenna
JournalEmory International Law Review
Volume33
Start Page368
Date Published2019
Abstract

As the United States mobilized troops to invade Iraq in the spring of 2003, the national agenda at the forefront of the charge was “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The push to “liberate” the Iraqi citizen from the oppressive Ba’athist State capitalized on a newly created United Nations Security Council Resolution: Resolution 1325. As a peace-building mechanism, Resolution 1325 proposes that in order to reconstruct a nation following conflict, increased numbers of women must be incorporated into policy, government, and police forces. This form of gender mainstreaming is a tenet of liberal feminism that relies on the “add women and stir” approach to gendered equality. However, when applied in post-conflict Iraq, women did not experience the expected gendered equality envisioned by Resolution 1325. Instead, these reconstruction techniques ignored the crumbling state infrastructure and attempted to impose western ideals of equality, leaving Iraqi women only more vulnerable and susceptible to gender based violence and retaliation, disease, poverty, and death. This Comment argues that in post-conflict Iraq, Resolution 1325 was not only apathetically applied, but was, and remains to be, a wholly ineffective tool to reconstruct war-torn nations. This Comment therefore proposes an alternative to the gender-mainstreaming policies of Resolution 1325, turning instead to Martha Fineman’s Vulnerability Theory. Rather than attempting to achieve gendered justice by increasing the numbers of women in reconstruction, Vulnerability Theory operates within the post-conflict state to assert that the state must be responsive to the root causes of suffering and discrimination experienced by vulnerable populations following armed conflict, and must rebuild base economic, political, and social infrastructure first, understanding that factors such as poverty, diminished access to life-saving resources, unemployment and insecurity all intersect with gender to perpetuate conditions of vulnerability, suffering, and violence.

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