Lebanese American University


Do you trust the police?

IWSAW visiting researcher Kate Rougvie speaks to students about gender and the security sector.

“Do we all have the same concerns when it comes to our security?”

It is with this question that Kate Rougvie, a gender and security expert, kicked off another edition of Food4Thought, a series of talks launched in October by LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW).

“At first they all said yes, but when I presented an overview of the relationship between security and gender, and explained how insecurities often differ depending on gender, I was pleased to see how receptive they were,” the speaker said of the students in attendance.

Security discourse, argues Rougvie, is grounded in masculine rather than feminine concerns. “Gender-based violence is a key security issue, but it’s not perceived as such because most, if not all decision makers, including for example those at the Ministry of Defense, are men.”

During her talk the researcher presented a video footage of women in the Internal Security Force undergoing training. “Security is defined and assured by men, so I wanted the students to consider the impact of increasing gender representation in the sector,” she explained. “I was pleased to hear the students express their belief that women are as capable and suited as men to work in the security sector,” she added.

Rougvie has spent the past three months with the institute as a visiting researcher. “I am pleased to have spent time in this great environment,” enthuses Rougvie, who is researching the relationship between security sector reform and gender, a topic she says is greatly under-researched both in the region and globally. She has for many years worked in the field of gender-based violence (GBV) in various countries, including the United States, Jordan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic where, two years ago, she met Lina Abirafeh, who has since joined LAU as director of IWSAW.

While in Lebanon, Rougvie has conducted both a literature review and interviews with security sector personnel, former bureaucrats and civil society representatives. In addition to its publication in an academic paper that Rougvie is writing for her master’s at the University of Queensland in Australia, her fieldwork has fed into an IWSAW program that involves training members of the Internal Security Force on GBV and gender responsiveness.

“As a visiting researcher, Kate has been a huge asset to the Institute. It is enriching not only for us but for LAU as a whole to gain from technical expertise of this caliber and to learn from the experiences of scholars from diverse backgrounds,” Abirafeh said.


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