Addressing the security needs of all citizens – a regional commitment of the military in the western balkans
Budva, 19-20 February 2019;
Thirty-one (31) representatives of the Ministries of Defence (MoDs) and Armed Forces (AFs) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, and the Republic of Serbia gathered at the 10th Regional Meeting of Gender Equality Mechanisms in the MoDs and AFs in the Western Balkans to map their needs and plan actions for advancing gender equality in their institutions.
To effectively respond to the different security needs of women and men, security sector institutions need to become more representative of the society they serve. The 10th Regional Meeting of Gender Equality Mechanisms in the MoDs and AFs in the Western Balkans initiated the second phase of “Strengthening of Regional Cooperation on Gender Mainstreaming in Security Sector Reform in the Western Balkans” project, which is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. With the support of the Regional Cooperation Council and UNDP SEESAC, the project provides the Ministries of Defence and the Armed Forces in the Western Balkans with a platform where, over the next three years, they can exchange ideas and develop policies to ensure long-term and sustainable inclusion of the gender perspective in defence policies and practices.
Lieutenant Colonel Egil Daltveit, Defence Attaché from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade opened the meeting highlighting how Norway benefitted from integrating gender into its Armed Forces confirming that women conscripts serve with distinction in all military roles they occupy.
Col. Svetozar Brajkovic, Deputy Chief of the General Staff Armed Forces of Montenegro, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation that enables knowledge, experience and information sharing in building institutional capacities to mainstream the gender aspect in defence.
Miodrag Dragisic, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Montenegro, underlined that in order to protect all members of society, security institutions need to attract, recruit and retain the most qualified candidates, from different social groups, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
The meeting enabled information sharing and knowledge exchange on gender equality mechanisms and policies, human resources management, as well as the integration of gender into the military education. It also included an example-based session where Major Sanja Pejovic, the first appointed Gender Adviser in the AFs of Montenegro, currently serving as Gender Adviser in the Allied Command Operation in NATO SHAPE, shared her diverse experience on gender and military operations. Dragan Bozanic, SEESAC Gender and Research Officer, explained how to develop evidence-based and gender-responsive policies related to small arms and light weapons control. Emir Sabic, Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Project Officer, Defence Section, British Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the objectives of the global initiative UK Leadership on Women, Peace and Security Chief of Defence Network.
Making gender equality the norm in institutions that continually address the security needs of both women and men is, now more than ever, perceived as a prerequisite for peace. The peaceful and inclusive societies envisaged under the the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be reached without both women and men being represented in all clusters of decision-making process and at all levels. Equally, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security sees gender equality as a must for finding long-term solutions to global conflicts.
Since 2012, UNDP SEESAC has been working closely with the Ministries of Defence and Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia to advance gender equality in the military. The regional approach was applied in these military institutions across the Western Balkans for the first time, leading to strengthening institutional capacities, developing gender-responsive policies and increasing gender awareness through the regional network of military gender trainers that educated over 4,700 civilian and military personnel on gender equality and subsequently transferred their knowledge to military peers in Europe and Africa.