Women, Peace and Security
NATO demonstrates its commitment to gender equality through the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). These Resolutions (1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2422) recognise the disproportionate impact that conflict has on women and girls, and call for full and equal participation of women at all levels of conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, and protection of women and girls from sexual violence in conflict.
- At the 2014 Wales Summit, Allied leaders acknowledged that the integration of gender perspectives throughout NATO’s three essential core tasks (i.e. collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security) will contribute to a more modern, ready and responsive NATO.
- NATO and its partners recognise the importance of ensuring women’s active and meaningful participation in decision-making and security institutions.
- NATO promotes the inclusion of gender perspectives in its tasks and functions.
- In the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), NATO Allies and partners launched work in this area in 2007 with the adoption of a specific policy to support implementation of the UNSCRs on WPS.
- Over the years, the policy has been updated to reflect the changing international priorities, related action plans have strengthened implementation and more partner countries from around the globe have become associated with these efforts.
- Gender is an important focus of NATO’s cooperation with other international organisations – in particular the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN) – as well as civil society.
- NATO’s Civil Society Advisory Panel provides space for women to engage with NATO on security and defence.
- The NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative serves as the high-level focal point for NATO’s contributions to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
More background information
The WPS mandate is fundamental to NATO’s common values of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. In line with the UNSCRs on WPS, NATO aims to address gender inequality and integrate WPS priorities through the Alliance’s three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.
NATO is actively seeking to incorporate gender perspectives within the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of its operations and missions. This is also an important focus in NATO’s cooperation with partner countries, both in the preparation of troops that will deploy in NATO-led operations and missions, as well as in wider cooperation on defence capacity building. NATO is also seeking to promote greater gender equality and increase the participation of women in defence and security institutions within the Organization and its member countries.
NATO cooperates with other international organisations to advance the overall agenda on WPS. The Regional Acceleration of Resolution 1325 (RAR) framework serves as a joint platform for NATO, the EU, OSCE, UN and AU for sharing best practices on WPS. NATO also recognises the important role civil society organisations continue to play in overseeing the promotion of women’s and girls’ empowerment and the protection of their rights. To better support NATO’s implementation of the UNSCRs on WPS, the Civil Society Advisory Panel (CSAP) was established. The CSAP provides overarching recommendations on the integration of a gender perspective into NATO’s core tasks and liaises with women’s organisations in national settings.
A number of gender-related projects under the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme involve civil networks of experts from Allied and partner countries, providing a forum for sharing knowledge and solving issues of common interest.
NATO and its partners’ active commitment to the UNSCRs on WPS resulted in a formal NATO/EAPC Policy on Women, Peace and Security to support the implementation of these Resolutions, first issued in December 2007.
A first Action Plan to support the implementation of this Policy was endorsed at the Lisbon Summit in 2010 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325. The Action Plan has been revised on a biannual basis since 2014 to reflect its implementation. The Policy and the Action Plan were both revised in 2018, ahead of endorsement by Heads of State and Government at the Brussels Summit in July 2018. The Allies , together with their EAPC partners, as well as Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates have signed up for their implementation. Other interested partners will be invited to also adhere to the revised Policy and Action Plan following the Brussels Summit.
In the NATO/EAPC Policy on WPS, NATO and its partners recognise the adoption of the WPS agenda and support the advancement of gender equality through the guiding principles of:
Integration: gender equality must be considered as an integral part of NATO policies, programmes and projects guided by effective gender mainstreaming practices. To achieve gender equality, it must be acknowledged that each policy, programme, and project affects both women and men.
Inclusiveness: representation of women across NATO and in national forces is necessary to enhance operational effectiveness and success. NATO will seek to increase the participation of women in all tasks throughout the International Military Staff and International Staff at all levels.
Integrity: systemic inequalities are addressed to ensure fair and equal treatment of women and men Alliance-wide. Accountability on all efforts to increase awareness and implementation of the WPS agenda will be made a priority in accordance with international frameworks.
NATO and its partners aim to contribute to the implementation of the UNSCRs on WPS by making this Policy an integral part of their everyday business in both civilian and military structures.
Working with partner countries
Through their cooperation programmes with NATO, partners are encouraged to adopt specific goals that reflect the principles and support implementation of the UNSCRs on WPS. They are also invited to make use of the training and education activities developed by Allied Command Transformation, which has ensured that a gender perspective is included in the curriculum of NATO Training Centres and Centres of Excellence as well as in pre-deployment training.
Though the Alliance has no influence on measures or policies taken at national levels, all personnel – whether from Allied or partner countries – deployed in NATO-led operations and missions or serving within NATO structures must be appropriately trained and meet required standards of behaviour. Several countries have initiated gender-related training for subject matter experts and raised general awareness on the UNSCRs on WPS ahead of national force deployments.
Work among Allies and partner countries is not only about developing gender awareness in crisis-management or peace-support operations. An increasingly important focus is on strengthening gender perspectives, including promoting gender equality and the participation of women in defence and security institutions, as well as in the armed forces.
Gender perspective in operations
WPS Resolutions are also being implemented in crisis management and in NATO-led operations and missions. The Alliance has nominated gender advisers at both Strategic Commands – Allied Command Operations and Allied Command Transformation – as well as in subordinate commands and in NATO-led operations and missions. Gender advisers support commanders to ensure that gender perspectives are integrated in all aspects of an operation.
In 2015, NATO and its partners adopted the Military Guidelines on the Protection of, and Response to, Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Gender perspectives are also increasingly being incorporated in exercises. For example, NATO’s 2015 crisis management exercise included, for the first time, a gender perspective as one of its objectives. These annual exercises are designed to practise the Alliance’s crisis management procedures at the strategic-political level, involving civilian and military staff in Allied capitals, at NATO Headquarters and in both Strategic Commands.
The implementation of WPS Resolutions cuts across various divisions and governing bodies within NATO Headquarters as well as in the Strategic Commands. Together, these entities are responsible for monitoring and reporting the progress made by the Alliance. For this purpose, a Women, Peace and Security Task Force was established under the guidance and responsibility of the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security.
In sum, the mechanisms at NATO’s disposal to implement the UNSC Resolutions are:
- The Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security serves as the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s gender/WPS-related work. This position was created in 2012 and made permanent from September 2014. It is currently held by Clare Hutchinson;
- A task force bringing together civilian and military staff across NATO Headquarters;
- A gender adviser in the International Military Staff and an advisory committee of experts (NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives) on the military side, tasked with promoting gender mainstreaming in the design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programmes and military operations;
- A working group led by Allied Command Operations to assess means to further incorporate the UNSCRs on WPS into operational planning and execution;
- Gender advisers deployed at different levels of NATO’s military command structure, including operational headquarters;
- A number of relevant committees that develop and review specific and overall policy;
- The NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme promotes concrete, practical cooperation on gender-related issues among NATO member and partner countries, through collaborative multi-year projects, training courses, study institutes and workshops.
- The CSAP, to support and guide the work of WPS within NATO and advise on the integration of gender perspectives into NATO’s core tasks.