From 4 to 7 June 2019, approximately 150 participants from 24 NATO Member nations, the Republic of North Macedonia and 11 Partner nations gathered to participate in the 43rd NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP) Annual Conference. The Open Conference included three Panel discussions related to integrating gender perspectives in the armed forces – role of strategic military leadership; NATO’s historic engagement with gender in military operations; and Gender Advisors’ and Senior NCOs’ successes and challenges in implementation at the tactical level. A book launch and discussion on “NATO, Gender and the Military: Women Organising from Within” also took place.
The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opened the 2019 NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP) Conference on Integrating Gender Perspective and Accountability: Top-down versus Bottom-up Approach. The Secretary General highlighted the importance of mainstreaming the three I’s of Integration, Inclusiveness and Integrity throughout the Alliance’s daily work. He re-emphasized how “gender equality is an integral part of all NATO policies, programmes and projects” and that “gender should be at the centre of planning, doctrine and training”.
Director General of the International Military Staff (DG IMS), Lieutenant General Jan Broeks took the podium to articulate the importance and relevance of integrating gender perspective into our daily work, acknowledging the progress and accomplishments made by the NATO Committee on Gender Perspective. Lt Gen Broeks emphasised that “gender awareness and integrating gender perspective should be inherent to our professional development and education for all NATO military and civilian personnel”. The Director General also asked those in attendance to think outside of the box and challenge outdated ways of thinking in order to promote inclusivity and diversity.
Deputy Chairman of the Military Committee, Lieutenant General Steven M. Shepro closed the Open Conference. Lt Gen Shepro recommended optimizing the leadership role and providing measurable outcomes in order to advance the gender community of interest agenda. He stressed “we need not to only acknowledge our successes but also take accountability of our failures as this will help us to break down the barriers through lessons identified, lessons learned and best practices”.
The NCGP-Chair, Lieutenant Colonel Katrien D’Hert, stressed that the integration of principles from UNSCR 1325 and Gender Perspective into our day to day business in the political, civilian and military environments “must be a common approach, it is a ‘need to have’, it never was and never will be a ‘nice to have’. “We must delve deeper into the professionalisation of the gender advisor and strengthen integrating gender perspective into professional military education. Without these advances integrated throughout our military institution, I fear we will be subjected to relive this conversation at the 25th anniversary in 2025.”
The closure of this year’s NCGP Annual Conference was met with farewells and new beginnings for several members of the Executive Committee (EC). LtCol Katrien D’Hert, a member of the EC for seven years, turned over the position of NCGP-Chair to LtCol Corine van Nieuwburg-Hofte, Chair-Elect is Major Diana Martins Branco Morais and the Deputy-Chair is LtCol Lisa Richard. In her farewell remarks, LtCol Katrien D’Hert urged all NCGP members to remain dedicated in their responsibilities “to promote gender mainstreaming and integrate gender perspective as a strategy to achieve gender equality. In order for NATO to remain the leading champion for changing the mindset and improving the Alliance’s efforts”.
International Organizations (IOs), Stakeholders, Subject Matter Experts from the External European Action Service (EEAS), Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (formerly DCAF), Nordic Centre for Gender Military Operations, Norwegian Defence University College along with the Gender Community of Interest network attended the Annual Conference.
For additional information on Gender perspectives in NATO Armed Forces, click here: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_101372.htm