NATO marks achievements on gender-related issues

  • 26 Oct. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 26 Oct. 2020 11:37

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), NATO welcomes the achievements of experts who have contributed to practical cooperation on gender-related issues among NATO member and partner countries in the framework of the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.

According to the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Clare Hutchinson, “UNSCR 1325 is the foundation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Its adoption 20 years ago represented a significant political shift for NATO. We are moving beyond words, as we establish and implement an ambitious but achievable agenda. The work done through the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme is an important part of how NATO achieves results.” Below are some examples of successful SPS-funded projects.

Increasing awareness and education

Dr Stéfanie von Hlatky is Associate Professor at Queen’s University in Canada. Together with experts from Australia and the United States, she developed a training course on gender mainstreaming in international security, which was first delivered in June 2018 to young researchers and students in the course of an international summer school in Montreal, Canada.

The course built on extensive evidence-based research she conducted between 2016 and 2018 on how to incorporate gender analysis in NATO’s policy and operational planning, and how to increase women’s representation both in civilian and military structures. “I think that empowering young students to engage in NATO debates is vital for the future of the Alliance,” stated Dr von Hlatky.

She also stressed that the current COVID-19 pandemic has created a new sense of insecurity across the globe. According to Dr von Hlatky, this affects current conflicts and gendered aspects of security. “NATO has acted in this context, but must continue to see these new challenges through the prism of its differentiated impacts on women, men, boys and girls,” she said.

Translating UNSCR 1325 into national policies

Ms Elena Marzac is Executive Director of the Information and Documentation Centre on NATO in the Republic of Moldova.  Together with experts from the United States, she led a NATO Science for Peace and Security project, which aimed to translate the WPS agenda into Moldova’s national policy.

Through this SPS project, Moldova successfully adopted in March 2018 its first National Action Plan to implement UNSCR 1325. “The national action plan has opened new ways and opportunities to introduce gender equality issues into the individual policies of our state institutions,” said Ms Marzac.It has helped to raise awareness on social and behavioural aspects within the institutions in the security and defence sectors,” she added.

Encouraging further participation and representation of women

Dr Megan Bastick is Gender and Security Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance.She led a NATO Science for Peace and Security project that supported Georgia’s Ministry of Defence in designing and executing its first organisational climate assessment on gender-related issues in the armed forces in 2019.

“Working with colleagues from the Georgian Armed Forces taught me how the work on WPS needs to be adapted to national and institutional contexts,” Dr Bastick emphasised. “For example, one needs to be thinking about gender dynamics, but also dynamics between men and women who joined the forces in different eras - millennials may have different expectations of their careers from those who joined in the 80s and 90s.

The Science for Peace and Security project contributed to understanding the barriers to the equal participation of women, and generated changes to Georgia’s national policy, procedures and training. “The Ministry of Defence revised its gender equality strategy to address issues identified by this assessment,” Dr Bastick explained. “Rapid improvements were made, and the project created relevant expertise among Georgian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces personnel”.

Looking at future Science for Peace and Security projects

Since the approval of its first WPS activity in 2013, the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme has successfully completed 14 related projects and has produced publications and handbooks. According to Dr Deniz Beten, NATO’s Senior SPS and Partnership Cooperation Advisor, “SPS activities have made substantial contributions to the key objectives of the WPS agenda and NATO’s partnership goals, by further enhancing the implementation of UNSCR 1325”.

The Programme is currently considering new initiatives on gender mainstreaming in counter-terrorism, as well as on how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may affect women and men in the armed forces differently.