Women, Peace and Security across scales: exclusions and opportunities in Iraq’s WPS engagements
International Affairs, iiab211
7 February, 2022
Article published by Yasmin Chilmeran
While space, positionality, hierarchy and location have been central undercurrents to understanding women’s participation and uptake of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, there has been little conceptual clarity about how these dynamics play out in post-conflict settings, nor on the impact that this has on women’s civil society networks in these locations. In turn, this silence depoliticizes, decontextualizes and flattens the complex and diverse uses of the WPS agenda in post-conflict settings, as well as the diverse civil society arrangements underpinning this activity. This article makes the issue of space and its political nature central (captured through the use of the ‘politics of scale’), with reference to Iraq as a context for unpacking these dynamics. I explore how Iraqi women participate across different scalar contexts linked to the WPS agenda, and navigate exclusions and opportunities within and across them. Drawing on interviews, speeches and policy material from Iraqi women’s organizations and their international partners, I argue that grasping how hierarchies related to scale, identity, resourcing and positionality are reproduced in local and national contexts is vital to understanding the uptake and rewriting of the WPS agenda in post-conflict settings. Further, I explore how Iraqi women’s organizations are responding to openings and attempting to challenge the spatial arrangements within and across the different scales they work and participate in.