In celebration of International Women's Day, the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Mari Skaare, answered questions on NATO's implementation of UNSCR 1325 in the Alliance and its missions, specifically in Afghanistan. Ms. Skaare addressed the role of female soldiers, the presence of women in decision-making, and NATO's long-term commitment to gender issues in Afghanistan. For further information, please consult the link through the Atlantic Community.
Dr. Elisabeth Schleicher, Austrian Army and
former Gender Advisor to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander
The Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSOTC) in Bosnia, in partnership with United Nations (UN) Women, the support of UN Development Programme and NATO, convened a "Gender and Peacekeeping: Regional Training" seminar in Sarajevo from 10-15 February 2013.
Drawing together trainers from the UN and NATO, as well as military and civilian students from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, the Republic of Albania, and the Republic of Serbia, the event examined various aspects of integrating gender perspective into peace operations.
These five countries have increasingly contributed to some of the most complex and demanding peace operations in the world. Within such environments, military, police and civilians must work together and understand the different security needs of men, women, boys and girls in order to best fulfill the mission's mandate and act in the benefit of the local population.
Ana Lukatela, from UN Women started the five day teaching series and explained the different impacts conflicts have on women and men and looked into the normative framework of Women, Peace and Security. She also highlighted the strategic benefits of including gender perspectives in peace operations. LTC Saša Popović of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina explained the terms related to gender.
Major General (ret.) Patrick Cammaert of the Dutch Armed Forces and the former UN Force Commander for the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, gave an in depth analysis on what Protection of Civilians and Conflict Related Sexual Violence mean to UN peacekeepers. General Cammaert, drawing from his personal experience, focused on the situation of women in theaters like Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, and Darfur.
While the first three days of the seminar focused on the benefit for the local population, Captain Lotta Ekvall, from the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations in Sweden and 1LT Dr. Elisabeth Schleicher of the Austrian Army and the former Gender Advisor to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander, stressed gender as a mission enabler and force multiplier and demonstrated the benefits of integrating a gender perspective into military operations.
The role of Gender Advisors in NATO-led operations is mostly external. They are responsible for increasing situational awareness and operational effectiveness by ensuring the operation engages 100% of the population. Both speakers stressed the importance of considering gender dimensions at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. 1LT Schleicher shared her hands-on experiences implementing the gender concept at KFOR for a period of 18 months and discussed ways that make a Gender Advisor a true contributor to the mission.
Bringing together the various approaches used to integrate gender perspective was one of the highlights of the seminar. Different people from different organisations on different missions in many conflict areas were all able to apply the principles of a gender perspective to their situation in ways that benefited not only their mission but the local populace as well.
Everyone at the conference gained from the sharing of these experiences. This sharing amongst each other is both invigorating and necessary. Finding out how gender perspective is being used in other theatres can spur implementation across a broad range of operations in many organisations.
The gender concept is still new to many soldiers. It will be some time before all soldiers understand the concept and the consideration of gender dimensions becomes intuitive to everyone. However, as the speakers demonstrated, when presented in operational terms, the benefits of integrating gender perspective are clear, and soldiers at all levels are quick to implement it into their operations.
An article written by Ms. Aram Hong, ACT Gender Advisor Assistant, and published in the latest issue of ACT Magazine, The Transformer.
Considering gender and gender issues as a powerful tool towards peace and security.
United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 was unanimously adopted on 31 October 2000. The Resolution was a cornerstone and recognised that women are important interlocutors in the greater discussion on peace and security. In 2007, NATO passed its first policy document and, since the ratification, there have been many successes with respect to gender. However, the integration of gender perspective could still be considered to be in its nascent stages.
Please, describe your job function. There are a lot of misperceptions of what a Gender Advisor (GENAD) does. Therefore, it is important to highlight that my role is external and is about increasing Kosovo Force's (KFOR) situational awareness and operational effectiveness. My role is to ensure that we engage 100% of the Kosovar society and that we take into account the different security needs of the whole population. This means I'm responsible for supporting our operations in its mission to contribute to a safe and secure environment by maximizing information gathering and dissemination. I advise the KFOR Commander and other Key Leaders in KFOR on how to integrate gender perspective into KFOR's operations. Gender perspective is recognizing if and when our operations will affect men and women, boys and girls differently due to the different roles men and women have in society. The roles men and women have, vary based on culture and history. Also, as many societies in the world have a formal patriarchal structure which places much emphasis on the roles of men, we can easily overlook not only how our operations may impact women and children, but also, very importantly, we could overlook the influence of women.
So it is an operational role interacting with the local population to help build on KFOR's success.
In your past year as the GENAD to COM KFOR, what is one (or many) "success story" that you are particularly proud of? Before I talk about the achievements, I'd like to highlight where KFOR stood in relation to implementing gender perspective when I arrived in June 2011. When I started my tour as GENAD, the post was quite new and had existed for only 6 months. So there was no Gender Training Plan implemented in KFOR. The GENAD was not included in any distribution list or included in any of the regular meetings. No contacts had been established at any level, neither within KFOR nor external with local, national or international actors in Kosovo. There was no liaison with the J3 for integrating gender perspective into the Military Decision Making Process, Operation Orders or Fragmentary Orders. Basically, I was starting from zero. There was little to no awareness of the operational benefits gender perspective could provide. I realized that I had to get the acceptance at the highest levels of the organization. According to the organization chart, I worked within the Internal Audit section as part of the Chief of Staff office. This added to the confusing about my role, people thought that the GENAD was a compliance officer and not of an operational asset. However, my title is "Gender Advisor to COM KFOR" and the Gender Advisor's role is that of a direct advisor to COM KFOR similar to that of other advisors such as the Political or Legal Advisors. I requested, and it was approved, that the reporting structure be changed so that I report to the office of the Commander. This was a very important step in order to better reflect the operational structure.
I am most proud of two things, one is how many local groups there are in Kosovo and how much KFOR can do working with them. It took a bit of work at first, but I have been able to identify over 50 local Kosovar groups that are doing humanitarian, economic development, and various other activities here in Kosovo who are potential partners for KFOR. These are not international groups, who also do great work, but rather local women and men working to better the lives of all people living here. Secondly, I am proud of our KFOR soldiers and how they react to the gender concept. There may be confusion at first, as they may have to overcome misperceptions of what gender is, but when they understand the concept, they quickly realize the potential it has. This started with COM KFOR, who stressed that "the center of gravity lies with the population". From him on throughout KFOR, the concept has taken hold and is now used in operations daily.
Many individuals often misconstrue what gender is exactly. Most think it is only about women. What would you say to such individuals? The term Gender can make it difficult. Most everyone has a misperception of what gender is. That is why one of my first slides in my briefings is what I DO NOT do. I found I had to be very explicit in saying that I am not responsible for equal opportunity and many other things. Then I quickly go into what I am responsible for and relate that directly to military functions. I emphasize that Gender is a Force Multiplier and the benefits in situational awareness, force protection, and operational effectiveness working with a gender perspective can have. I found that if I dispel misconceptions up front and then quickly move to operational benefit, they follow along. If you spend too much time on theory and regulations, you lose the audience fast.
In working with our operations and plans officers, as well as with leaders in KFOR's subordinate units, I have not found any leaders who disagree with the operational effectiveness of having integrating gender perspective. I suppose that there are people who will never come along, but there are many arguments for using gender perspective in our operations. I think Sergeant First Class William, a Gender Focal Point in our Multinational Battle Group East summed up the argument best when he said "if mama ain't happy, nobody is happy". People understand that.
The Chicago Summit confirmed the political support for the integration of gender perspectives; that doing so has proven to lead to operational effectiveness. In your current operation, do you believe this is true? What would you say to those who do not necessarily understand or agree with the value-added of integrating gender perspective? One of the many reasons why the function of the GENAD was established was to increase the effectiveness of military operations. I am convinced that Gender is an asset to improve operational effectiveness and is a force multiplier. I would like to refer to two examples in KFOR.
Last year the frustrations of the Kosovo Serbian population resulted in civil unrest. The people began to set up road blocks to deny certain parties Freedom of Movement. Having a Gender Perspective allowed us to see how the road blocks affected the women and children in these communities. We in KFOR could now understand the impact of road blocks on the whole society and this helped shape our plan. Our plan takes into account the effects of the road blocks and how our actions will affect women and children as well as men.
Using a gender perspective in this situation helped to understand the women at the road blocks and how we could proceed with minimal use of kinetic force.
Another operation that had a clear Gender Perspective was the unfixing of a women's monastery headed by a very cautious Mother Superior. We had to find a way to bridge the divide between her Serbian Orthodox Church monastery and the local Muslim community. This operation was too complex to go into details; however one of the key elements were to identify a female Kosovo Serb liaison, in the community, to work with the Mother Superior. I sought out people who had personal relationships with the Mother Superior and used these contacts to develop a better rapport with the Mother Superior than we had. Working with these individuals and with many other interested parties, they developed a plan that would best address the Mother Superior's concerns. This model of using a Gender Perspective for this operation may serve KFOR well in future, particularly in communication with Serbian Orthodox Church monasteries.
The training I provide then translates to greater outreach in the community. I cannot possible meet with and engage all of the potential actors. But having soldiers trained with gender perspective allows our Liaison Monitoring Teams and others to actively engage with NGOs, GO', and other actors in Kosovo to further KFOR's mission.
We are really still at the start of this. It will be some time before all soldiers understand the concept and a Gender Perspective becomes normal. But it is great to see how quickly soldiers apply the concept if you highlight the operational benefits of working with gender perspective. There is much to be gained in this field and that is why we need to apply it.
What, do you see, has led most to the success of your office? Being here a year has allowed me to take a holistic approach to gender. This means that, rather than focusing on one or two projects, I have been able to develop a training plan for KFOR from COM KFOR all the way to line soldiers. Each level of training reinforces COM KFOR's intent and integrates gender perspective into decision making and operations at all levels of the organization.
I am also especially proud of creating a Gender Team concept here in KFOR (unofficial to date), with both a man and a woman working on gender which greatly increases the effectiveness of the office. Most of the people in the military are men and having a man advocate for what is often perceived as women's issues gives a great deal of credibility to the message. Also, a man could provide a male perspective on this subject. I was lucky enough to find someone who was willing to work with me. CPT Andy Young of the U.S. Army has become an integral part of the success of the GENAD office in KFOR and has worked with me on almost all of my projects. A key to our success in this was having complimentary skills.
To sum up, what is necessary to be truly successfull as a Gender Advisor is first to understand the commander's priorities and make sure that this is what you are working on. You must apply gender perspective to those priorities and develop plans that address those issues. This will keep you operationally focused.
You then need the Commander's endorsement. You obtain this by doing the first step. If the commander sees your work as focusing on his or her priorities they will support you. To the line soldiers you must emphasize that Gender is a non-kinetic tool and not some extra work for them to do. If they see that it can make their work easier or more effective, they will use it.
During the 22-23 of May the newly established Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations hosted a gender seminar, where international flag officers, ambassadors and representatives from NATO, UN and EU came together to discuss gender in the military/security context. The seminar was attended by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, who highlighted the necessity of using a gender perspective in armed conflicts. All participants agreed upon the importance of integrating gender perspectives in military and security operations, as they all agreed to make the seminar an annual event.
This was the first international flag officer seminar arranged by the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM), gathering a number of experienced officers, university doctors as well as NATO- EU- and UN representatives to discuss how working with gender perspectives in a military/security environment contributes to the overall political, military strategic and operational objectives. In order to achieve a long term solution on gender implementation in security operations the seminar presented several highly respected guests and lecturers who shared their experiences and lessons learned. It was addressed in what way the military part of the strategic and operational environment is part of the solution. The main purpose of this seminar was to raise the shared knowledge on how gender perspectives can be integrated into daily work as well as in operational planning, execution and evaluation at strategic and operational levels, by using a comprehensive approach as the model to fully integrate gender perspectives into military operations.
During the first day the fundamental groundwork was placed in order to understand the function of UNSCR 1325 and this was completed by a lecture and discussion with Ms Margot Wallström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Ms Wallström is finishing her mission in the upcoming days and told the audience that she will leave her post with a heavy heart but hope for the future.
The second day was introduced by Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Abrial (FR A), who addressed the seminar by video from his Head Quarters in Norfolk USA. General Abrial explained the effort ACT put into the implementing of a gender perspective at all levels within NATO Forces and Command structure.
After the two day flag officer seminar participants had received general knowledge about gender in relation to related documents, policies, guidelines and directives, as well as gained understanding of using a gender perspective as an operational tool and force multiplier. This was completed by the ability to use a comprehensive approach and a gender perspective, how to cooperate in the arena between civilian, humanitarian, military and other security actors.
The working process during the seminar consisted of several methods, from lectures to syndicate working groups. The lectures were finished with a possibility to debate around the brought up issue. This created an environment for interaction between the audience and the lecturer, and since the gathering only consisted of 25-35 participants, it contributed to an easygoing ambiance in the room. Dr Magnus Norell put focus on the postmodern conflict threats occurring in mission areas, where using a gender perspective is as far as rocket science can be. When observing women as non-actors is not only excluding them from the peace process but also creating a threat as we have failed to see female insurgents several times throughout history.
Many fruitful discussions were held and conclusions were drawn, encouraging the visitors to enhance their ability to implement a gender perspective in their daily work as well as in the planning process.
Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM)
NCGM will carry on the work with implementing a gender perspective, UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions throughout their work. This includes an enhanced cooperation with NATO and other actors in order to develop a comprehensive education and training concept regarding gender dimensions in a military and security context. Additionally NCGM will continue to organize seminars and workshops with the intention of improving the knowledge and implementation at tactical, operational and strategic level. The next upcoming event will be the Commanding Officers Gender Seminar in December 2012.
Inauguration of the Nordic Centre for Gender
Photographer: Alexander Karlsson
Gender Perspective within NATO
By: Vice Admiral Carol Pottenger, U.S. Navy, Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability Development, Headquarters, Supreme Allied Command Transformation and
CDR Kimberlie Young, JAGC, U.S. Navy, Gender Advisor, Supreme Allied Command Transformation
Recognizing the important role women play in building peace and resolving conflicts, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on 31 October 2000.
This Resolution publicly recognizes the devastating impact war and conflict can have on women and children. It is the first Resolution of its kind, requiring parties involved in conflict to respect women’s rights. It commits all United Nations (UN) member states, including all NATO Allies, to ensure that gender considerations are integrated into security work.
Since 2000, four related UNSC resolutions have also been adopted: UNSCR 1820 (2008), UNSCR 1888 (2009), UNSCR 1889 (2009) and UNSCR 1960 (2010).
In its efforts to recognize these resolutions, NATO, with its Partners, has developed guidance that acknowledges that war and conflict often affect women and children more than men.
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton provides Remarks on Women, Peace, and Security
(19 December 2011)
Secretary Clinton's Remarks on Women, Peace, and Security: Address given in Washington, DC to highlight President Obama's signing of an Executive Order launching the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security – a comprehensive roadmap for accelerating and institutionalizing efforts across the United States Government to advance women’s participation in making and keeping peace.