NATO International Military Staff marks International Women’s Day
On International Women’s Day 2021, the NATO International Military Staff acknowledges the importance of incorporating gender equality and gender perspectives in all its work strands. For more than two decades now, NATO has been striving for a more inclusive, diverse and integrated environment throughout its civilian and military structures.
Gender perspectives and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda have been crucial to the core work of the Alliance and its member Nations since UNSCR 1325 was adopted in October 2000. The implementation of this resolution aims to ensure women’s active and meaningful participation in decision-making, from policies to planning, training to education, to missions & operations. Gender equality has therefore become a core pillar of NATO’s success throughout its three core tasks: collective defence, cooperative security and crisis management.
Integrating gender perspectives in Allied armed forces not only supports gender equality, but it also improves the overall performance and effectiveness in all NATO’s operations and missions. By mainstreaming gender and increasing the number of women in our operations, we are making our Alliance stronger and better prepared to deal with the security challenges we face.
Allied nations continue to enhance gender equality, including in their armed forces. The number of women in uniform has doubled since 2000, and 85% of NATO members have opened all position in their armed forces to women. By promoting a more inclusive participation in their militaries, Allied nations are actively contributing to gender equality, and increasing awareness of gender perspectives.
Within the NATO International Military Staff, gender perspectives continue to be mainstreamed with the help of the Office of the Gender Adviser (GENAD). Established in 1998 as the Office on Women in the NATO Forces, the office took a more inclusive approach in 2014 by incorporating gender as a whole in its title and workings. “For more than twenty years, GENAD has been providing advice on gender issues to the IMS and building awareness on the importance of gender perspectives,” said current GENAD Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Brierley. GENAD, along with the Special Representative for WPS, has assisted members and partners develop action plans to implement UNSCR 1325, and now more than 90% of Allied nations include gender perspectives in their pre-deployment training.
GENAD also serves as the secretariat for the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP). The NCGP is a consultative body that promotes gender mainstreaming as a strategy to make the experiences and concerns of all genders an integral part of the policies, programmes and military operations of NATO. For almost 45 years, the NCGP has been the advisory body to the Military Committee on gender related policies for the Armed Forces of the Alliance, cementing the importance of gender perspectives at NATO.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge” because while NATO has made much progress in the past decades, more work remains to be done. “Gender mainstreaming is more than just including women in the process,” said Director General of the International Military Staff (DGIMS) Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann, “it’s about allowing them a seat at the table where decisions are made. That is why we need women in leadership. Working toward gender equality helps us all to progress.”