Right now the second Gender Adviser (GENAD) Course for the year is nearing its end. Sixteen men and fifteen women from different parts of the world have come together for two intense weeks at SWEDINT/NCGM. Their aim: to be successful gender advisers in peacetime headquarters or in crisis establishments at strategic, operational and tactical levels. Taking them there is a mix of self-study, advanced distributed learning, lectures, facilitated discussions and syndicate work.
Participants represent twenty-two different nations from five continents. One of them is mr Alexander Anastasiades from the UK Government Stabilisation Unit, who appreciates the combination of theory and practice:
“It’s a bit like doing a mini masters university degree. You have people from different countries, military and civilian, different ranks and roles, coming together, bringing lots of different experience. So you are not only taught by the instructors and lecturers, but also by your fellow students. And it’s also great a networking opportunity to meet people who are potentially going to be doing the same job as you, from different governments, different countries. You actually may end up working alongside them one day . . . “
The network dimension of the GENAD course is something that course director, Capt Inka Venho-Kortelainen, particularly wants to emphasise.
“The exchange of ideas and experiences is a key dimension of the course and apart from the teaching itself we are providing a network of gender advisers, because we know that once you are in the field it is crucial to know who to contact and where to find more information. So the slogan of the course is really: Dial a GENAD”, says Capt Venho-Kortelainen.
One participant who might just do that is Col Esther Bola Ayaji, from the Nigerian Army, where the gender perspective is just starting to make inroads.
“I am only the second person from the Nigerian Army to attend a GENAD course. We don’t have a gender department at our armed forces yet, but after the experience of this course I will make a proposal to the authorities to establish it. I was sent here by the Ministry of Defense so the awareness of the importance of gender is there.”
Just like her fellow students, Col Ayaji, thinks the GENAD course is intense.
“It’s quite challenging, but I am pleased to be here. It’s a lot of assignments that keeps you occupied in the evenings, but you learn a lot. When I received and read the pre-course assignments I expected it to be an intense time, and it is. But I was prepared.”
Course Director Capt Venho-Kortelainen says that the pre-course assignments that all students receive before the start of the course, makes it a three-week course, rather than a two-week residential course.
“The first week of self-studies is crucial for the students, and for their chances of passing the exam successfully. So yes, it is a three-week course, with the final two weeks here with us.”
The next GENAD course at SWEDINT/NCGM is planned for February-March 2017.