Why is it important?
Globally, the road for women to thrive in the armed forces is still paved with gender stereotypes. In the face of war and its aftermath, protecting all civilians, young and old, women and men and responding immediately and effectively to their different needs is not only a prerequisite for peace but it is also the key to long-lasting stability and development. In this setting, it is the armed forces that provide the necessary protection. For the military personnel to be able to fulfil this role, they need to mirror the societies they serve. Achieving gender equality in the military has been deemed a prerequisite for long-lasting peace by the global commitment to make the world a better place – Agenda 2030. Linking the Global Goal on gender equality to the Global Goal on achieving just and peaceful societies, Agenda 2030 fully acknowledges that no global peace can be achieved if half of the world population is left behind.
Ministries of Defence in the Western Balkans, supported by UNDP SEESAC, embarked on the long-term mission to make law enforcement institutions fit for gender equality. Now, more personnel is aware of the importance of gender equality in the armed forces, there are strong mechanisms in place to ensure gender equality and human resources policies have been reformed to strengthen career prospects of women officers. Also, there is a Regional Network of Gender Military Trainers working with their colleagues to make gender the norm in their institutions.
Building upon the successful implementation of Phase I run from 2010 to 2012, UNDP SEESAC and the regional project partners began the implementation of Phase II of the Strengthening of Regional Cooperation on Gender Mainstreaming in Security Sector Reform in the Western Balkans project with the aim of consolidating and ensuring the sustainability of results achieved during Phase I. This project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs and runs from 2019 to 2021.