The NATO’s Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP) hosted their annual conference on 13-14 October 2020. The theme of the conference was “Deepening Gender Mainstreaming: Transformation Through Professionalisation” and the event brought together 110 participants, including representatives from NATO’s Member and Partner Nations, academics, researchers, and international organisations from around the world, virtually and physically. At the conference, participants discussed the current state of affairs and exchanged best practices to continue integrating gender perspectives and the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda at NATO.
The NCGP is responsible for promoting gender mainstreaming and integrating Gender Perspectives as a strategy to achieve gender equality. It is the advisory body to the NATO Military Committee (MC) on gender related policies for the armed forces of the Alliance.
The Conference included virtual and in-person remarks from NATO Deputy Secretary (DSG) General Mircea Geoană, Chairman of the Military Committee (CMC) Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Director General of the International Military Staff (DGIMS) Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative (SRSG) for Women Peace and Security (WPS) Claire Hutchinson, and NCGP Chair Lieutenant Colonel Corine van Nieuwburg-Hofte.
DGIMS Lieutenant General Wiermann delivered the opening remarks of the Conference. He recognised the importance of the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, a significant step towards the WPS agenda that recognised the disproportionate impact conflict and post-conflict situations have on women and girls. It aimed to ensure women’s active and meaningful participation in decision-making.
Lieutenant General Wiermann emphasised the importance of women in crisis management and the maintenance of peace. “It’s important to have a gender perspective in the operation, to have women in decision making bodies, and to get them involved when they finally come to resolution of the conflict situation. We all agree that in countries like Afghanistan and the Balkans, the military can create conditions for peace, but the final peace needs to be preserved and gained by political processes and again here, women have an important role to play.”
DSG Mircea Geoană and the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security Claire Hutchinson also addressed the conference in pre-recorded messages. “Understanding and integrating the gender dimension in the military is key to achieving greater gender equality across the Armed Forces,” said DSG Geoană. “And we know, that more equality translates into better performing militaries, and a more operationally effective Alliance.” He praised the Alliance and the NCGP for the progress they had made in advancing the WPS agenda. However, he acknowledged that there was still more to be done. Special Representative Hutchinson called the conference participants to action. “On this 20th Anniversary [of UNSCR 1325] when we reflect on where we’ve been, we need to think where we need to go… We need to turn those firsts into everyday business, to make sure it’s sustainable, and that what we push for in terms of change, will last for a very long time.”
Chairman of the Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Peach also addressed the participants via a pre-recorded message. “For decades, NATO and its Allies have recognised and encouraged a more gender-balanced military,” he said. Air Chief Marshal Peach went on to express optimism at the progress of female integration into Allied militaries. “Today, we have more women than ever before in our national militaries, and recently I have seen evidence of this progress first-hand as we have witness several appointments to military leadership positions.”
Conference participants discussed the Strategic Plan (STRAT PLAN) which aimed to re-examine the previous recommendations made by the NCGP members to develop gender as a capability. “Developing gender as a capability will create a framework in which it can be professionalised through training, education and capacity building to shape best practices and standards within our military structures and enhance interoperability to meet the Alliance’s objectives,” remarked DGIMS Lieutenant General Wiermann.