INTERNATIONAL: Engaging Women Crucial for Operations, NATO's Military Chief Says

Thursday, September 16, 2010
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

On 9 September, the Chairman of NATO's Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, stressed the need to involve more women in peace-building and decision-making at an EU event marking the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

The resolution is crucial for NATO, said Admiral Di Paola, representing NATO's Secretary General. “There is a much greater recognition in our organization of the importance of this issue to NATO operations and activities.”

Building trust

Today, and Afghanistan as a case in point, “NATO is engaged in very different social and gender sensitive environments,” he said. “That's why involving women in operations is crucial if we want to establish relationships and trust with the civil society. It is important to ensure that at all strategic, operational or tactical levels women are present, women are active, women take decisions.”

The day-to-day activities of women engaged in NATO operations “are crucial because they have a unique capacity to interact and to bond with the local women,” Admiral Di Paola said. By reaching out to local women, their influence on the men around them can help NATO's efforts and enable a better understanding of how stabilization and progress can be achieved.

Tools to promote women's participation

Gender advisors are also key to promoting women's participation in peace and security, he said. In the last year, NATO appointed gender advisors at all levels within its two commands in Kabul. One of the first lessons learned is that “we have to involve gender advisors at all levels of command structures… in all our operations.”

Admiral Di Paola said another key area NATO is keen to pursue is training on gender perspectives. Gender advisors in NATO's two strategic commands are currently working to boost training capacity in this area for NATO's institutions.

He pointed to NATO's Policy on Gender Perspectives, which – in line with UNSCR 1325 – calls on the Alliance to prevent the disproportionate impact of conflicts on women and children, protect them during conflict, and encourage women's participation in all aspects of NATO activities.

Conference details

The event entitled “10 years of UNSCR 1325: Ensuring Women's Participation in Peace and Security” was hosted by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere.

Other key speakers included Rachel Mayanja, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and Margot Wallström, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict.