Promoting gender balance in NATO forces

  • 02 Jun. 2009 - 05 Jun. 2009
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  • Last updated: 02 Jun. 2009 17:40

The Committee on Women in the NATO Forces holds its annual meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels from 2 to 5 June. Princess Astrid of Belgium participated as a keynote speaker to the first day sessions, which focused on the status of NATO’s implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

This resolution recognises the need to take account of the impact of war on the female population, as well as the need for women to play a larger role in peacekeeping and peace support operations. “It highlights that women and gender issues can play a vital role as an enabler in peace-building and nation stabilisation”, said NATO Secretary General during his opening speech.

Gender training and education

Representatives from Partnership for Peace and Mediterranean Dialogue countries attended the first sessions, to be moderated by NATO experts and guest speakers from the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the South African National Defence Force (South Africa is a leading country on implementing UNSCR 1325).

Further sessions will focus on gender training and education, with lectures and discussion panels involving specialists from the UN and the NATO-accredited Civil-Military Co-operation Centre of Excellence based in The Netherlands.

On June 5th, the last day of the meeting will be devoted to elections as the chairing of the Committee is handed over by Belgium to Italy and executive Committee members - 2 Deputies and 1 Chair –Elect - are nominated for the next 2 years.

Expanded role

The Committee on Women in the NATO Forces’ primary mission is to advise NATO’s military leadership and member nations on critical issues affecting women in the Alliance’s armed forces.

For the past few years, its scope of work has been extended to include gender mainstreaming issues as a whole, and make both service men and women’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design and implementation of policies, programmes and military operations.

As a result, the Committee was renamed into NATO Committee on Gender Perspective and its mandate modified to reflect this dimension. The Committee also has an advisory role to the Military Committee on gender related policies for the Armed Forces of the Alliance.