Nordic Battlegroup, NBG, Force Headquarters has several Gender Advisors, one of whom is Lieutenant Colonel Monica Larsson. For the past three years she has been developing guidelines for her work, which can be summarized as the three P’s: to Prevent, Protect, and Participate.
- As Gender Advisor, I see the military tasks from another perspective. My main task is to raise the awareness of the gender issue, and make it a prioritized matter. In other words, my job is to influence the planning and decision making process, so that the consequences to the civilians are considered with regards for both genders.
- Most issues related to my role is the safety for women, says Monica Larsson. In a conflict area, they are usually the most vulnerable group. Insurgents often do terrible things to women, which makes the social structure negatively affected for a long time to come. That is what we have to prevent.
There is also a civilian perspective on gender. In real life Marie Nilsson is the Gender Advisor for the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency, MSB. In the VIKING11 exercise she has a role as gender advisor for UNAMIB.
-Men can also be victims of gender based violence, and are often forced to do terrible things. There are stereotypes of what is typical male and female. The expectation of upholding the norm is difficult for men, as well as for women. It is also crucial to remember that men are not only a part of the problem, but also a key to the solution
- It is true that you could find situations where men are forced by criminal gangs to do things against their will, adds Monica Larsson. If we, the military, have a presence in that kind of area, we must find a way to change this behaviour. An example of when men were affected was the conflict in Bosnia during the 90’s.
Both Gender Advisors think that since the 1990’s there has been a positive progress in gender issues. Monica Larsson says that the awareness of her work has developed in a positive way since the start of NBG. According to Marie Nilsson the biggest challenge is the misunderstanding of gender as a concept.
-As a gender advisor there is a dilemma where you are either included in everything, or nothing. Unfortunately there are too many issues related to gender, and it takes a lot of time and energy to explain what gender really is all about. This leaves less time to implement the gender perspective. As far as the exercise concerns, the civil-military cooperation on gender issues is a success in VIKING11, with the military side very willing to share their information, concludes Marie Nilsson.