Annual Conference of the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives 2015

  • 02 Jun. 2015 - 05 Jun. 2015
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  • Last updated: 24 Jul. 2015 09:04

The 15th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and its impact on recruitment and retention in the armed forces were the focus of this year’s Annual Conference of the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP) from 2 to 5 June 2015.

Group photo with HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium

The conference was the largest in the history of the NCGP with some 100 participants, representing 20 NATO member states and 13 partner countries. They included national delegates, representatives from the NATO Military Authorities and other organisations such as United Nations Development Programme’s South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium and Assistant Secretary General for Operations Stephen Evans gave the welcome remarks at an open conference hosted by the Belgian Royal Military Academy on 2 June. Attended by 250 people, the event marked the 15th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and the 40th anniversary of the enlistment of women in the Belgian Armed Forces.

Princess Astrid praised progress at the policy level over the past 15 years but said that implementation has been slow and uneven. We need incisive gender equality policies.  But most of all we need the will and the resources that can turn our words into action. To make the policies and resolutions that are already in place a reality for the women and girls they are designed to help.“

HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium addressing the audience

A panel discussion moderated by Elisabeth Broderick, Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner, focused on changes in recruitment and retention in the military over the last 15 years. Panellists included Lt Gen David Morrison former Chief of the Australian Army, Major General Jeffrey Snow, Director of the US Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office , Major General Franco Marsiglia, Chief Attaché and Military Adviser to the Italian Permanent Representative to NATO and Brigadier General Margaret Burcham, Director for Manpower and Personnel from the US Armed Forces.

Lt Gen Morrison highlighted the important role of leadership in moving Resolution 1325 forward and how the most effective changes in the military must be made from within.

He emphasised significant changes related to recruitment and retention in the Australian Army: “We have changed the arrangements around flexible workplace. We have improved the way women and men are given the opportunities to step out of their service be it to have children or anything else and be welcomed back into our army without having lost one second of seniority. We have imposed particular requirements with regards to behaviour and treating our colleges with respect, that have been enforced rigorously over the last three years.”

Maj Gen Marsiglia, Lt Gen Morrison, Ms. Broderick, Maj Gen Snow and Brig Gen Burcham

The annual conference proceeded at NATO Headquarters, where national delegates and other participants shared best practices and lessons learned regarding recruitment and retention, resulting in recommendations that were presented to the Military Committee on 4 June.

Participants received several briefings, notably by Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Yannick Glemarec and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative on Women Peace and Security, Marriët Schuurman.

HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium with the Executive Committee of the NCGP and the IMS Office of the Gender Advisor

After serving as the Chair of the NCGP for the past two years, Col Linda Sheimo (US Armed Forces) handed over her responsibilities to Lt Col Nevena Miteva (Bulgarian Armed Forces). The NCGP paid tribute to the superb leadership and outstanding work of the outgoing Chair, which has helped raise the visibility of the NCGP both inside and outside NATO.

Lt Col Katrien D’Hert (Belgian Armed Forces) was elected by Nations as the new NCGP Chair-Elect. The NCGP also welcomed two new Deputy Chairs, Lt Col Kimberly Unterganschnigg (Canadian Armed Forces) and Commander Mary Riemens (Dutch Armed Forces), who will serve alongside Deputy Chair Col Luigi Viel (Italian Armed Forces).