Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Digital Dialogue on the Future of Women, Peace and Security at NATO

  • 15 Oct. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Oct. 2020 15:31

(As delivered)

Thank you Clare. 
Many thanks for your leadership.
And thank you for organising this event.  
To mark the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
And to look to the future of this agenda for NATO.

The Resolution has had a profound impact worldwide. 
It changed the conversation about security. 
And it changed NATO. 
Our ability to adapt to change is key to our success.
As a modern, agile and inclusive organisation, 
we keep all our people safe.  

Now, we are adapting once more. 
To a complex and challenging security landscape. 
This is why I launched a forward-looking reflection on the future of NATO earlier this year. 
It is called NATO 2030. 
It is about making our strong Alliance even stronger. 

My vision for NATO 2030 is based on three priorities.
Making sure NATO stays strong militarily.
Becomes stronger politically.
And takes a more global approach.

I believe that our efforts on Women, Peace and Security have an important contribution to make to each of these areas.

First, when it comes to staying strong militarily. 

Our armed forces need the best and the brightest. 
We cannot afford to overlook the skills of half of our population. 
Whether they are going to be pilots or sailors, engineers or cyber experts. 

So women have an important role to play in national defence. 
For decades, NATO has worked to reduce barriers to women in the military.

Today, the percentage of women in Allies’ armed forces is 12%. 
It is still a very low number.  
But it is double of what it was twenty years ago. 
I urge all Allies to recruit more women in their military. 
Because the more diverse and gender-equal our armed forces are, 
the better they perform. 
And the more operationally effective we are as an Alliance. 
Diverse armed forces are strong armed forces.  

But of course, this is not all about numbers. 
The women and men in uniform are also being trained to apply a gender-lens to everything they do. 
Through training, our soldiers – and commanders - are more alert and receptive to everybody’s needs. 
They can help to recognise, prevent, and report acts of conflict-related sexual violence. 
And they can better take into account the impact that military operations can have on local populations, including women. 
Not least by deploying gender advisers as we do in NATO.
This is not just about equality – it is about security. 

Second, our efforts on Women, Peace and Security make NATO stronger politically. 
When we bring different perspectives into to the debate, 
and listen to the voices of both men and women, 
we simply make better decisions.
At NATO, the number of women at the decision-making table is slowly, but steadily, increasing. 
Eight Ambassadors are women. 
And seven Defence Ministers are women. 

Including Minister Šekerinska, Radmila, who is joining us today.
And who is a great example of political courage and expertise. 

There is strength in diversity. 
But again, this is not and cannot be about numbers alone. 
To make better decisions, we also need to understand that the challenges we face – and our response to them – can affect women and men differently.
This is a reality we should not ignore. 

We know, for example, that women are the main victims of conflict-related sexual violence. 
And research shows that they are more likely than men to be cyber-bullied. 
We also know that in Allied countries, 70% of the healthcare workers are women. 
They are on the frontline dealing with COVID-19.  

So when we talk about security issues – from military attacks to hybrid attacks, or even pandemics – we need to recognize who they affect. 
And how. 
This is vital to shape solutions that will serve everyone. 

What we advocate inside our Alliance, we also advocate elsewhere, 
including in countries where we have active operations. 

That is why NATO supports the Afghan peace talks, where women have a strong voice in the government delegation.
And where it is important to safeguard the gains made in the last decades, 
not least for women and girls. 
Because there can be no peace unless there is peace for all. 

In Iraq, where the Commander of our mission is a woman, Jennie Carignan, 
we build the capacity of local security forces, 
to make their institutions more effective, inclusive, and sustainable.  

And in many of our partner countries, we have strengthened our training on human rights and the protection of civilians. 

Third, our efforts on Women, Peace and Security take a global and cooperative approach. 
This benefits us all. 

Preserving our security and protecting the fundamental values on which the rules-based order is founded, is a joint endeavour. 
NATO’s 30 Allies will continue to play their part to further advance gender equality. 

We are also sharing experience and building understanding with partners from around the world.  
From the United Nations to the African Union. 
And from Georgia to Jordan, and Sweden to New Zealand. 
With governments and with civil society organizations. 
We are working together to make a difference.

We have made significant progress in the past. 
Now we must seize the opportunities in the future, 
to further implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda. 

You have my personal commitment to provide the leadership and support needed.
I also look forward to hearing your views, your opinion on how we can collectively do more, and do better. 
Because I am convinced that advancing this agenda,
will make NATO even stronger and fit for the future. 
Supporting peace and security for all.
So thank you once again and I wish you a very successful dialogue.