My research is situated at the intersection of global governance, peace and conflict, women's development and empowerment, human security, African feminist theory, and environmental justice.
Sustaining Peace: Human Development, Economic Empowerment, and Discourses of Women's Security – book manuscript in progress This project dissects the UN Security Council's Women, Peace, and Security agenda's implementation in three francophone West African countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Mali. I demonstrate that the agenda's implementation is shaped by a number of factors, in particular a tension between "security," "peacebuilding," and "development" projects for women, not only in rhetoric but also in the programs designed to implement the agenda. Further tensions arise in the conflicting priorities of local women's organizations, national governments, and the international and transnational policy communities. The effects of these tensions are revealed through interviews with local NGO, government, and United Nations representatives as well as participant observation over nearly two years in West Africa. With insights from African feminism, my findings call into question the assumptions about women's roles in international security policies and the interrelation of actors in policy implementation. Field research for this project was funded by, in part, a Fulbright Research Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.
"Does Gender Inclusion Equal Security Sector Reform? Implementing UNSCR 1325 in Côte dʼIvoire" – revise and resubmit Security sector reform, a process to better ensure security for the state and its people, has been incorporated into the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda in many post-conflict states as critical to enhancing women’s security. In Côte dʼIvoire, the first conflict-affected country to develop a National Action Plan to implement the WPS agenda, security sector reform has become the primary way that the agenda is localized. This study argues that this is a response to international priorities in women’s security, namely an emphasis on sexualized violence and giving primacy to achieving easily measurable indicators, all the while privileging mechanisms of traditional security. Using interviews with representatives from women’s community organizations, the Ivorian government, and UN officials, as well as participant observation of public and semi-public conferences and meetings, this article concludes that Côte dʼIvoire is relying on an “add and stir” form of gender mainstreaming. This research demonstrates that women’s security, with the collusion of national and international actors, ultimately has become a bureaucratized form of security, relying heavily on protection and inclusion into the existing governmental and security systems, without being transformative and attending to the full range of security needs and human rights.
"Genealogies of Women's Environmental Activism" My new project delves into the myriad ways that the environment becomes salient for issues that have been traditionally the focus of international politics, namely, security. To determine how and when the environment is considered important to international politics, I am developing a genealogy of women’s environmental activism, using two West Africa counties, Guinea and Senegal, as case studies. I use a genealogical method to ask when and how women’s activism on environmental issues is successful and when it is instrumentalized, or in other words, when an international focus on the environment is not a response to the environmental problems themselves but is instead used as a tool to achieve other goals. This project develops a theory of how the environment, like women’s issues, is simultaneously important and yet not central to the production and practices of international relations.