Discussion on Gender, Security and development – An issue of Operational Effectiveness

5th November at the House of Sweden in Washington DC, a panel debate and discussion was held regarding gender and its relation to operational effectiveness.
The honourable Ambassador Melanne Verveer who is the Executive Director Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security was the main speaker.
The Swedish Ambassador to US, H.E Björn Lyrvall, welcomed the panellists and the almost one hundred  in the audience interested experts and others working with gender.

Photo: SWEDINT

The ambassador introduced the subject and briefed about the Swedish focus regarding the importance to implement the UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions in all security as well as development programs and operations.

The panellists agreed that integration of gender perspectives in crises or conflict situations is one fundamental peace of the puzzle for establishing a long term peace and security. The discussions, and questions from the audience, were much about how to implement a true gender perspective at all levels connected to military activities. A lot has already been said, especially at the highest political strategically level and much of the policy documents, such as National Action Plans, are in place. The problems are much focused on how to get the middle management level on board at the same time as the soldiers can understand and see the usefulness of implementing a gender perspective at their level.

A Bottom Up approach parallel with a Top Down approach was recommended by Commander Jan Dunmurray, CO Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM).
"We must give practical examples and tools for the soldiers to see the benefit of implementing a gender perspective that will have an immediately operational effect at their level. That will likely influence the gender mainstreaming and open the floor for real discussions how to improve their tactics and techniques even more by adding a gender perspective into their operations."

Sometimes it is hard to get through to military, often male, personnel discussing gender and why they should consider to implement a gender perspective. One way we at NCGM has found as successful is to train ordinary military, and police, trainers how to integrate gender into their respective field and areas of expertise. It is much more effective if the ordinary Trainer add a portion of gender in their ordinary training programs as a valuable multiplier instead of having specific theoretical lectures about UNSCR 1325 and its related resolutions, said Cdr Dunmurray. He continued;
A soldier normally listen more carefully to his ordinary trainer and/or commanders than to an external gender expert. To show practical examples how to use gender perspective as one of all the other tools in your toolbox and the relatively big positive impact it has is a key for success. At different levels this means different things; from the ground level tactics and techniques to the operational and strategic level where more focus is likely on the participation and prevention parts of the UNSCR 1325.

Training is key, and who that conducts the training is sometimes even more important.