Celebrating women’s role in peace and security

  • Last updated: 08 Mar. 2012 08:40

Every year, International Women’s Day on March 8th honours the achievements made by women all over the world. It also focuses attention on the commitment made by many organisations, including NATO, to protect women and children in areas of conflict where they are disproportionately affected. This year, March 8th also marks 10 years since NATO began improving the gender balance of its own workforce.

“During the past 10 years, we have greatly increased the number of women employed at NATO and doubled their presence in senior positions. However, we must continue to do better so that the number of women in NATO more appropriately reflects their number in society at large,” says Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management, Bill Eaton.

Women are an integral part of the Alliance’s personnel and play an important role in building peace and security in many of the world’s most troubled areas. Although progress has at times been slow during the last ten years, NATO has been rethinking its gender balance and diversity and reforming recruitment policies. Work is ongoing. For example, in 2011 the first female Assistant Secretary General was appointed, and a new action plan on diversity and inclusion is anticipated for the Chicago Summit in May.

Reporting on commitments

The Secretary General also released the first annual report on 17 November 2011 detailing NATO’s work to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The resolution recognises the disproportionate impact war and conflict has on women and children.

“NATO’s approach towards the implementation of UNSCR 1325 is founded on the principle of building and maintaining sustainable peace and security,” says Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General.

The report reflects the commitment by NATO Allies and partners to make the principles of UNSCR 1325 an integral part of their everyday business, including their political, civilian and military structures, and their operations and missions. It focuses on the six-track approach implemented after Allied leaders agreed at the 2010 Lisbon Summit to underscore NATO’s work on Resolution 1325. The six tracks are: operations; mainstreaming UNSCR 1325 in policies, programmes and documentation; cooperating with international organisations, NGOs and civil society; education and training; public diplomacy; and national initiatives.

Recognising progress

In December 2011, the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives received the IV Award “Soldado Idoia Rodríguez, mujer en las Fuerzas Armadas” ("Soldier Idoia Rodriguez, Woman in the Armed Forces") from the Spanish Defence Minister, for its outstanding and successful efforts to incorporate and integrate women into the armed forces, improving gender balance and implementing the relevant UNSCRs within Spain and other NATO Countries.

This award was created in March 2007 in memory of the first military woman in the Spanish Armed Forces, who died while serving on active duty in an international peacekeeping mission. It gives public credit to individuals or institutions – civil or military – who have contributed to enhance the role of women in the armed forces or to promote equal opportunities.

NATO is part of much wider international efforts working to break this historic inequality, and to recognise and support the important role women play in building peace and resolving conflicts.