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Women’s inclusion in the security sector is viewed often as a social issue. States, however, are increasingly seeing it as a matter of national security as they struggle to fill ranks. To address this dilemma, many more women are needed to work alongside men in defense, intelligence, police and border protection. Unbarring the door to women through legislation and policy is a typical approach toward gender integration. It is needed, but not sufficient.
Inclusion and integration are used interchangeably. They are not the same. Yes, both bring women into the security sector, but integration expects women to adapt to the existing system while inclusion ensures that the system adapts to women. A gender integrated approach permits women to serve alongside men in masculinized units with some accommodations but little acceptance. Such organizations are male dominated, exhibit deep-seated masculinized cultures, forge obstacles to women’s full participation and experience high levels of sexual violence. A gender inclusive approach is different as it merges men and women together with full system access. In these organizations, the default gender is not male, barriers for women are eliminated, all are valued, and the structure and its leaders do not permit the “strong” to prey on the “weak.” This discussion draws upon personal experiences to consider how leaders create cultures of belonging for women’s meaningful inclusion.
U.S. Naval War College
Newport, Rhode Island
WPS, male allyship, sexual assault, gender inclusion, gender integration
Minnich, Dr. James M., "Politics of Belonging: Men as Allies in the Meaningful Inclusion of Women in the Security Sector" (2023). Women, Peace, and Security. 6.