The 47th NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives Annual Conference focuses on “Gender Analysis in Action” and celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the IMS Office of the Gender Advisor
From 3 to 5 October 2023, approximately 200 participants from 44 Allied and Partner Nations attended the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP) Annual Conference online and in-person at NATO Headquarters. This year‘s theme focused on “Gender Analysis in Action”.
Opening the conference, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană noted that the application of a strong gender focus is fundamental for our security, noting that “we face many threats and challenges, which all have a gender dimension”. He underscored that “those wearing uniform play an essential role in our security and what they do and say matters, and that integrating a gender perspective makes our military more credible, more effective, and stronger”.
Participants were also welcomed, via video message, by Ms. Irene Fellin, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security (WPS), where she addressed the four priority work strands ahead of the Washington Summit, next year. The focus will be on NATO’s “direction” on integrating WPS and Human Security into its core tasks; “dialogue” that places a greater emphasis on NATO engagement with diverse actors including civil society and youth and “disruption” to recognize the multiplying and increasingly complex nature of conflict and instability and the need for NATO to adapt and draw from new perspectives. The final priority focused on the role of the Alliance in advancing the WPS Agenda through the review and update to its WPS policy.
The first panel featured the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral Sir Keith Blount, the Canadian Military Representative to NATO, Vice Admiral Scott Bishop, the former US Military Representative to NATO, Lieutenant General (retired) E. John Deedrick, and NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Mrs Carmen Romero. The speakers focussed on the next steps for the Gender Perspective in the aftermath of the Vilnius Summit. This high-level panel centred on key ways NATO’s leadership were conducting gender analysis to ensure operations and missions take into account the gender perspective, and how to increase the knowledge of NATO amongst women. Furthermore, they discussed that diverse perspectives provide better operational outcomes and situational awareness.
The second panel titled “Gender Analysis on the Ukraine Conflict” highlighted how women and children are disproportionately affected by the war in Ukraine. The panellists included Dr Larysa Kompantseva, the Head of the Department of Strategic Communications and Applied Linguistics at the National Academy of the Security Service of Ukraine, Captain Matthew Stoner, Police Training Advisor to the Canadian Police Mission in Ukraine, and Ms Cori Fleser, Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. They discussed Russia’s use of disinformation in the Ukrainian conflict, the main lines of work that Gender Advisors (GENADs) can conduct while coordinating with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and the use of gender-based information in the conflict, noting how this has shaped decision-making and driven security assistance to Ukraine. Additionally, they highlighted that when military operators interact with civilians, the civilians will experience conflict in different ways based on their own experiences, which should be reflected in a gender analysis with an intersectional approach, other factors, such as age.
The conference then moved to annual updates by the NATO Gender Community of Interest: Lieutenant Colonel Katherine Prudhoe for the NATO International Military Staff (IMS), Lieutenant Colonel Sheri Lattemore for Allied Command Operations (ACO), and Major Lauranne Bureau for Allied Command Transformation (ACT), and Lieutenant Colonel (PhD) Lena P. Kvarving for the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM). These included discussions on updating the NCGP and IMS GENAD terms of reference, doctrine development and the attribution of Centre of Excellence status to the NCGM following the Swedish accession.
The third panel “Conducting Internal Analysis” targeted how different international organisations were carrying out gender analysis. Ms Apollina Kyle and Ms Patricia Nguyen from the NATO IMS GENAD Office presented the Summary of National Reports, the analysis of NATO’s largest compilation of gender statistics. They shared the findings of the 2020 Summary of National Reports to the NCGP and discussed how the methodology has been simplified and streamlined. Ms Terhi Lehtinen, the Head of Division Horizontal Coordination at the EUMS, examined how to better integrate gender analysis and gender equality systematically into conflict analysis to improve the gender responsiveness of the EU’s external actions, including in the Gender Action Plan (GAP III) for 2020 to 2024 and the Operational Guidance on Gender Mainstreaming to the Military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) 2022. Lastly, Mr Martin Dexborg, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Advisor on Gender Issues, explained the three pillars of their action plan, which includes internal, external programmes, and support to its members. He discussed the OSCE’s Annual Progress Report, which is developed into analytical documents with aims and strategies that last 2-3 years and displays concrete actions in recruitment, both with a focus across the organisation and to the differences among units, to improve reporting and both staff and management awareness.
The day concluded with an update from Lieutenant Colonel Jane Male, Chair of the NCGP Executive Committee and Lieutenant Colonel Françoise Verbanck, Deputy Chair of the NCGP Executive Committee.
The second day of the conference was opened by the US Delegate, Dr Deborah Ozga, who kicked off exchanges on the implementation of the gender analysis from various experts on gender analysis tools. Dr Louise Olsson from the Peace Research Institute of Oslo presented the Olsson Matrix on Gender in Military Operations and Major Wilco van den Berg from the NCGM to examine their Military Gender Analysis Tool.
During the second panel, representatives from France, Portugal and the United States debated the lessons learned on Gender Needs Analysis. Ms Inka Lilja and Ms Karin Carlsson from Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) explored the Elsie Initiative which looks at enhancing women’s meaningful participation in peacekeeping activities. Dr Alan Okros discussed the findings of a NATO Research Task Group that looked at how to successfully integrate gender and cultural perspectives in senior officer professional military education programmes.
Finally, Major Lauranne Bureau and Ms Megan Huber from the ACT GENAD Office shared initial findings on the AzuirtOwl innovation project to create a more effective and efficient gender analysis tool to directly support the planning and conduct of operations.
The final day centred on closed sessions where Allied Nations discussed the way ahead for the NCGP and discussed recommendations to the NATO Military Committee.