October 12, 2015

Are Women Inherently "Better" Leaders?

Catherine Powell, Fordham University School of Law, has published What if Women Ran the World – Would it be a Better Place?: International Law as Gender Performance in the Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Here is the abstract.
This article would provocatively ask whether the world would be a better (more peaceful, more economically secure) place, if women assumed leadership positions in peace and security matters. The backdrop is not simply Hillary Clinton’s run for Commander-in-Chief – and her claim that women’s empowerment is not only the right thing to do, but the “smart” thing to do for global and economic security. This is also an important question for international law. This year marks the 15 year anniversary of the UN Security Council’s groundbreaking Resolution 1325 (2000), which rests on the assumption that women’s participation will lead to more sustainable peace, because women “perform” differently in matters of war and peace. Thus, the norms are unapologetically instrumentalist and reinforce essentialist views of women. In fact, empirical evidence demonstrates that women “perform” in ways that reduce conflict, violence, and extremism. But the article will illustrate that the forms of gender performance we see reflected in the data – and which international law has organized itself around – are based on the socially-constructed roles women play (i.e., as caregivers, nurturers, and collaborators). However, a potential danger is that international law reifies these roles and the stereotypes, even as it tries to open up opportunities for women. Moreover, not all women are “peace-loving.” One need only recall Margaret Thatcher, the Supreme Court’s VMI case, the Obama Administration’s decision to drop the combat ban on women serving in the U.S. military, the militarization of feminism, and Hillary Clinton’s support for the 2003 Iraq war. Drawing on psycho-social and legal theory, the article will suggest ways for women to transform the paradigm for peace and security, rather than conform to the hyper-“masculine” framework that prevails. In examining this puzzle, the project builds on my work on military intervention (Libya: Indicative of a Multilateral Constitutional Moment? 106 AJIL 298 (2012)) and critical feminist approaches to international law a (Gender Indicators as Global Governance: This is Not Your Father’s World Bank, in Big Data, Big Challenges in Evidence-Based Policy Making (Kumar Jayasuriya ed., 2015 Forthcoming)).
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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