NATO and EU Military Leadership discuss Gender in Military Operations
On 22 October 2019, NATO hosted a NATO-EU Senior Leader Seminar (SLS) on Gender in Military Operations. The Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM) led the discussions on “The Integration of a Gender Perspective in Military Operations”.
In 2018, NATO and the EU agreed a new Joint Declaration, which focused on implementation, and it called for swift and demonstrable progress in four areas: military mobility; counter-terrorism; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks; and finally, promoting the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.
The two organizations meet regularly at all levels of leadership in formal and informal discussions with the purpose of advancing lines of development within the Joint Declaration. Today’s SLS is another example of the close cooperation and work being spearheaded by the Director General of the NATO International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann and the Director General of the EU International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen. Both are working together to fulfill one of the four objectives set in the Joint Declaration, namely, promoting gender perspective and the WPS agenda.
The aim of this seminar is to increase the senior military leaders’ understanding of the opportunities and challenges in implementing gender perspectives to further strengthen the IMS and EUMS strategic partnership. By focusing on a concrete aspect of the NATO-EU cooperation, “The Integration of a Gender Perspective in Military Operations” seminar will provide a good basis for recommendations on how to further improve future collaborative efforts in developing exercises and training to enhance gender perspectives in military operations.
Opening the seminar, Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann highlighted the importance of gender perspectives in the military domain: “An increasing number of military operations have mandates that include protection of civilians, do no harm principles, and the establishment of safe and secure environments. Integrating a gender perspective will allow us to get a more comprehensive picture of the security threats encountered by the civilian population. Women, men, girls and boys often face different security threats and therefore have different security needs. Failing to understand these differences will decrease our ability to fulfill our mandates. Integration of gender perspectives is not only about gender equality and gender balance in our armed forces. It is also an important tool for our operational success”.
The participants received a series of briefings explaining how various gender related lines of development is translated into NATO and the EU for consideration and integration. Cooperative efforts was further enhanced through Round Table Discussion by the active participation of senior leadership. As such, EU-NATO counterparts were able to examine how exercise enablers could be incorporated to enhance gender perspective into military operations. The overall political and military strategic objectives as outlined in the Joint Declaration was achieved as gaps and barriers on the Implementation of UNSC 1325 and related Resolutions and integration of gender perspectives were identified and best practices were shared.
Addressing the participants, Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann concluded by saying that “this seminar has shown you the utmost importance you as leaders have in guiding your staff working in military organizations or contexts. You have seen that integrating gender perspective constitutes a rewarding way to achieve outputs in a wide range of military tasks and activities. Only when leaders accept and integrate change can the effects be resounding and lasting”.
Inaugurated in 2012, the NCGM in Sweden is an international centre exclusively dedicated to promoting training and education on gender in military operations. Moreover, NCGM functions at the same time as the department head for gender for both the NATO and the Nordic Defence Cooperation, while maintaining close contact with other relevant partners.