by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Women Political Leaders Summit

  • 21 Jun. 2021 -
  • |
  • Last updated 28-Jun-2021 08:37

(As delivered)

Silvana, Helen, thank you for inviting me to the Women Political Leaders Summit.

Gender equality has always been a priority for me personally.

And the work you do to promote women leadership is of great importance to all of us.

So I am pleased to have the opportunity to address you today.

A week ago, NATO held our own Summit.

Alliance leaders met in Brussels to prepare NATO for a more unpredictable world.

Preserve peace.

And keep our 1 billion people across North America and Europe free and safe.

The best way to protect our security and way of life is to stand united.

And draw on all of the talents that our societies have to offer.

Because we all know that gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.

The military has traditionally been very male dominated.

And this has, of course, impacted NATO.

As a political-military Alliance, we still have a long way to go.

On average, the percentage of women in Allies’ armed forces is 12%.

And at our last Defence Ministers meeting, 8 out of 30 were women.

These numbers are still low. 

But they are significantly higher than a decade ago.

This matters because the more diverse and gender-equal we are, the more effective we are at defending our values and our people.

So we have to do more.

And we are.

NATO has a robust policy on Women, Peace and Security including with gender advisors in military missions.

We are gradually increasing the number of women in the military and also in political leadership roles.

We know that when we bring different perspectives to the debate,

we simply make better decisions.

We are also training our own soldiers – and commanders – to be more alert and receptive to everybody’s needs. 

And we are strengthening our training on human rights and the protection of civilians, also in partner countries.

Finally, we are learning to recognise how security threats affect women and men differently.

This way, we can shape solutions that will serve everyone.

At our Summit, leaders endorsed NATO’s new policy on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

Ensuring we do everything we can to prevent and respond to these heinous crimes.

They also agreed to continue to advance gender equality and integrate gender perspectives in all that we do.

So you can count on NATO’s continued commitment to strengthen the role of women in leadership. 

And I count on you to continue challenging us.

Thank you very much.