Bridge between researchers and implementers
During her career in the Australian Defence Force, beginning in 2003 in the Navy and moving to Air Force in 2014, Wing Commander (Dr) Angeline Lewis has been deployed five times. Her experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan have brought home to her the vital importance of rule of law during post-conflict reconstruction. Just as interesting to the lawyer and Arabic linguist is gender dynamics.
“I applied for the role of Minister for Defence's Visiting Fellow in Women, Peace and Security out of interest,” Dr Lewis says. “My academic background as well as my military operational experience is primarily in post-conflict reconstruction. I was very interested to explore further how gender dynamics influence that.”
“Fragile or collapsed states are very different to our own. I wanted us, as a military force, to have a better understanding of gender, one that isn't simply based on how gender works in Australia.”
Rule of law focussed security theory argues that if the rule of law is able to be restored, or developed, in the sense of adequate institutional features such courts, police, prisons and legal process, etc, that goes a long way toward restoring security and order in society, Dr Lewis says.
An institutional framework is essential to allow people the certainty and predictability that conflict takes away. However, from a cross-cultural perspective the rule of law is not that simple, and incorporating an understanding of local gender dynamics can be a key ingredient in the recipe for success.
“If women aren’t equal participants in the peace process, then statistically it’s not likely to be a durable peace,” she says.
The role of Minister for Defence's Visiting Fellow in Women, Peace and Security was established in 2018 and Dr Lewis, as the inaugural Minister’s Fellow, is developing the framework for the fellowship, including research projects informed by her deployment experiences.
“We want to encourage research into issues that will help the ADF conduct effective operations internationally. We can best do that with effective links into the research community,” she says. “The main purpose of the Fellowship is to build a bridge between researchers and implementers of post-conflict reconstruction.”