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Journal explores women’s views on security

At the Parliamentary launch of the special issue of the National Security Journal (from left) are contributors Sheridan Webb and Yvette Tohill with Dr Negar Partow (guest editor), Dr John Battersby (managing editor) and contributors Claire Bibby and Deidre McDonald.

A special issue of the National Security Journal launched at Parliament this week focuses on women’s perspectives on defence and security. 

It covers diverse topics such as women’s voice in policing, counter-terrorism law in New Zealand, and relations between police and Syrian refugees in Wellington.

It is the latest (volume three, issue one) of the National Security Journal and is dedicated to the work of women researchers associated with Massey’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. Guest editor is Dr Negar Partow, a Senior Lecturer in the centre and an expert in Middle East politics, religion, human rights and global security. 

Speaking at the launch, Dr Partow said she has supervised research by many “amazing women who have devoted their lives and expertise in bettering our lives and organisations.” 

“Their works were not exclusively about the issues that women face in their workplace or in society but rather they were focused on the ways through which women think about security in general. Many of these works were never published or even became accessible to the public and their unique vision and argument were lost in university library. With the launch of the National Security Journal, however, this opportunity became available to collect some of these works in a special issue. “

She said the journal content is significant because the defence and security domain is traditionally patriarchal. 

In her introduction to the issue, Dr Partow pays homage to the impact of 1970s and 80s gender studies research on relations and connections that were central to understanding gender equality alongside political ideas of liberalism and individualism. These new perspectives became, she says, “a building block for vital studies on defence and security, all of which highlighted the lack of women’s voices in the field and its significance in decision making about matters of security and defence.”

“It took however, another two decades of dedicated work, writings, lobbying and raising awareness before the significance of women’s voice was acknowledged in the field of defence and security by the United Nations Security Council….This was the first international document in which women were not presented only as the victims of war but it reaffirmed the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace building, peacekeeping, humanitarian efforts and in post-conflict reconstruction.”

Editor of the special issue on women and security Dr Negar Partow with MP Louisa Wall and Wendy Hart (Senior Inter-Parliamentary Relations (IPR) Advisor and Secretary to the New Zealand Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union).

Counter-terrorism over time

In her article; From Hijackings to Right-Wing Extremism: The Drivers of New Zealand’s Counter-terrorism Legislation 1977 – 2020, Sheridan Webb outlines New Zealand’s counter terrorism legislative chronology, exposing historic themes of slow law making, political disinterest and reactive and incomplete solutions. She explores the issue in the context of the recently completed report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019. 

Ms Webb says; “Terrorism has only ever been discussed as an international threat, even the domestic attack on the Rainbow Warrior was discussed in international terms due to the involve­ment of France.”

There is, she says, “an underlying trend of complacency towards terrorism. Initially, the Muldoon-era system considered the strategic publication of its operational readiness transformed New Zealand from a soft target to one “better prepared” than others. 

“This initial assessment was shattered by the [Greenpeace vessel] Rainbow Warrior bombing, with Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer reflecting that the sinking was “the end of innocence” for New Zealand. The exact same sentiment was shared by the media following the Christchurch terrorist attack in 2019.”

Syrian community in Wellington

Yvette Tohill examines relationships between the New Zealand Police and refugee communities – in her article: Community Policing and the Syrian Refugee Community in Wellington District.

Her case explores refugee experiences in New Zealand through semi-structured interviews with police and others who have worked with Syrian refugees, who represent the largest group of refugees accepted into New Zealand . 

She says in the article that while relations between police and the Syrian refugee community in Wellington are generally positive, “aspects of communication, culture, refugee journeys, gender and youth contribute to the challenges experienced by the Syrian refugee community in Wellington district when interacting with the New Zealand Police.”

Other contributions include why New Zealand needs to reframe biosecurity policy for a post-Covid-19 era; the role of police communication in enabling the voices of women to be heard in decision making to prevent conflict, conflict resolution and in post conflict situations; and the evolution of abortion law in Poland.

Yvette Tohill, Sheridan Webb and Claire Bibby are all graduates of Massey’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies, and Deidre McDonald, a teaching fellow from the Ministry of Primary Industries at the centre, is currently working on a PhD at Massey. Dr Justyna Eska-Mikołajewska is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Studies at the University of Economics, Krakow, Poland. She was hosted as a visiting scholar at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies on Massey’s Wellington campus.

The National Security Journal (NSJ) was launched in 2019 by Massey’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. Managing editor Dr John Battersby says the open access journal aims to inspire a high standard of research on national security topics and bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. 

“The Women and Security issue shows that we do not need to take a two-dimensional approach to national security, but we can look at a broad scope of topics, from a range of varying perspectives and push boundaries.  

“Women are not new to security – this special issue simply shone a light on what women have been doing in practice and research in the security landscape. This was initially conceived as a one off, but the level of support and enthusiasm for it may well see it continue.”

The launch was attended Labour MP Louisa Wall as well as a range of parliamentarians, academics, diplomats, non-governmental organisations, research students, and civil society groups.

Read more here:

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