Dr Aiko Holvikivi

Dr Aiko Holvikivi

Assistant Professor in Gender, Peace and Security

Department of Gender Studies

Room No
English, Finnish, French
Key Expertise
Women, Peace and Security; gender training; peacekeeping; gender expertise

About me

Aiko Holvikivi is Assistant Professor of Gender, Peace and Security at the Department of Gender Studies and an Associate Academic at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security, LSE. 

My research interests relate to transnational movements of knowledges and of people, and how these are produced by and productive of gendered and racialised (in)security. I am currently working on a book monograph titled Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training, which examines epistemologies of gender training. This research examines the ways in which training produces knowledge about gender; the processes of circulation, translation, resistance and negotiation that are involved; and the epistemic and political effects of such training. The project draws on fieldwork in East Africa, the Nordic region, West Africa, the Western Balkans, and Western Europe. This project has also generated further strands of research on questions of forced displacement in the WPS agenda; on gender experts and expertise; and on feminist research methods in fieldwork.

I have extensive experience with policy engagement and stakeholder outreach. Before re-entering academia, I worked on questions related to gender and security at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs. In these roles I built up experience managing projects on policy research and technical advice and capacity-building in the field of gender and security sector governance, and worked with UN Women; the Albanian State Police and Ministry for Defence; the South African National Defence Forces Peace Mission Training Centre; the Sierra Leone Police; and the UK Stabilisation Unit. I continue to guest lecture regularly at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the UK Defence Academy, and serve in an advisory capacity to the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations and the Security Sector Reform Advisory Network to the United Nations. 

I first joined LSE in 2015 to pursue doctoral research in Gender Studies. My PhD thesis, completed in 2019, won the British International Studies Association’s Michael Nicholson Thesis Prize in 2020 and I was awarded an Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop publications from this research. During this time, I have also taught widely across the field of interdisciplinary and transnational gender studies and have received a number of awards for teaching. I hold an MA in Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and an MA (undergraduate) with first class honours in International Relations from the University of St Andrews. 

Expertise Details

Women; Peace and Security; gender training; peacekeeping; gender expertise; forced displacement and WPS



• Training the troops on gender: the making of a transnational practiceInternational Peacekeeping, 2021
• (with Audrey Reeves) Women, Peace and Security after Europe's 'refugee crisis', European Journal of International Security, 2020
Gender experts and critical friends: research in relations of proximity, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 2019

Book chapters 

• Peacekeeping: Feminist Debates and Demands, in: Routledge Handbook of Feminist Peace Research, 2021

Policy publications

• (with Audrey Reeves). The WPS agenda and the 'Refugee Crisis': Missing connections and missed opportunities in Europe. LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security Working Paper Series, 6/2017.
• (with Bojana Balon, Anna Björssön, Tanja Geiss, Anna Kadar, Iryna Lysychkina and Callum Watson (eds)). Handbook on Teaching Gender in the Military. Geneva: DCAF and PfPC, 2016.
• (with Kristin Valasek). How to integrate gender into military curricula in Bojana Balon, Anna Björssön, Tanja Geiss, Aiko Holvikivi, Anna Kadar, Iryna Lysychkina and Callum Watson (eds), Handbook on Teaching Gender in the Military (pp. 81-98). Geneva: DCAF and PfPC, 2016.
What Role for the Security Sector? An SSR Approach to Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Connections Quarterly Journal, 14(3), 31-44, 2015.
• (with Kristin Valasek). Summary and analysis of findings in Miranda Gaanderse and Kristin Valasek (eds), The Security Sector and Gender in West Africa: A Survey of Police, Defence, Justice and Penal Services in ECOWAS States. Geneva: DCAF, 2011.

Blogs and op-eds

The politics of training peacekeepers on gender. British International Studies Association, 2020.
• (with Christine Chinkin and Marsha Henry). Women and peacekeeping: Time for the UN to commit to gender equality. RUSI Newsbrief, 15-17, 2016.

Book reviews

(with Sarah Smith) WPS as evolving and contested domain: a review of New Directions in Women, Peace and Security, ed. by Soumita Basu, Paul Kirby and Laura Shepherd, LSE WPS Blog Forum 2020.
• Gender, sex and the postnational defence: militarism and peacekeeping by Annica KronsellFeminist Review, 2017.
• Women and war – Gendered engagements, Review of Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? by Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern, Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson et al., and Gendering Global Conflict by Laura Sjoberg. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8(2), 250-261, 2014.

·       Training the troops on gender: the making of a transnational practice, International Peacekeeping, 2021.[Office1] 

 [Office1]to add


Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training (ESRC 2020-2021)

Peacekeeping involves deploying soldiers and police from impartial countries to warzones in order to create the space in which peace may be built. Despite its formidable promise of providing security to conflict-affected peoples, peacekeeping forces are not always a benevolent presence. The failures of peacekeeping have been widely documented by scholarship, activists, and the media. They range from neglecting women’s needs and priorities in conflict-affected areas, to acts of violence committed by peacekeepers against the local population. After decades of lobbying by women’s groups, in 2000, the UN Security Council established the international Women, Peace, and Security agenda, which aims to address these shortcomings of peacekeeping. In this agenda, gender training is consistently evoked as a way to remedy or ‘fix’ the gendered harms of peacekeeping. Over the last two decades, such training has become a requirement for uniformed peacekeepers, and has developed into a significant transnational practice.

Although the gendered harms of peacekeeping are undeniable, the question remains whether gender training should be unambiguously embraced. Feminist scholarship points to an inherent tension in such training: the introduction of a critical concept such as ‘gender’, developed through feminist scholarship and activism, into traditionally masculine institutions such as the military and the police. This raises crucial questions for feminist strategizing: How is gender training made to work in and for military and police organisations? Is it a normative good from the point of view of intersectional feminist politics?

Fixing Gender: The Paradoxical Politics of Peacekeeper Training, addresses the question: What epistemic and political ‘work’ does gender training come to ‘do’ in the martial institutions associated with peacekeeping? In order to address this question, I reviewed policy documents and training materials, and observed gender training in practice in East Africa, the Nordic region, West Africa, the Western Balkans, and Western Europe. I examine how gender is conceptualised, taught, and learned in peacekeeper training – what exactly are peacekeepers learning about gender? I argue that this training is a deeply ambivalent practice from the point of view of intersectional feminist political commitments. On the one hand, I demonstrate that training reinscribes the notion that military force is an appropriate solution to gendered insecurities; that gender comes to be understood through the lenses of racialised difference; and that training affirms attachments to normative heterosexuality. On the other hand, my research reveals that training also leads peacekeepers to question the appropriateness of using force, and reveals to them how existing inequalities are based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. In sum, gender training constitutes both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feminist politics, amounting to a paradoxical pedagogy. In navigating the fact that gender training both has transformative potential and is likely to consolidate existing inequalities, I argue that there is political worth in developing feminist pedagogical approaches to training, and in continuing to contest what work the term gender can and cannot be made to do.

Recent grants and awards

• 2020. ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship
• 2020. Michael Nicholson Thesis Prize, British International Studies Association
• 2019. Highly Commended Graduate Student Paper, Feminist Theory and Gender Studies, International Studies Association
• 2019. Highly commended for LSE Class Teacher Award
• 2018. LSE Class Teacher Award
• 2015-2019. LSE PhD Studentship



  • MSc Gender, Peace and Security, Programme co-director 
  • GI425 ‘Introduction to Gender, Peace and Security’, Course convenor, lecturer
  • GI427 ‘Advanced Issues in Gender, Peace and Security’, Lecturer
  • GI424 ‘Gender Theories in Interdisciplinary Perspective’, Lecturer
  • GI402 ‘Gender Knowledge and Research Practice’, Lecturer