“Is NOT doing gender an option?” – Key Leader Seminar on Gender 2016

6 July 2016

The fifth Annual Key Leader Seminar on Gender in Military Operations took place in Stockholm in June. The Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM) hosted the event that was held at the Swedish Defence University.

Seventeen participants from ten nations took part in the two day seminar that brought together senior leadership from the defense sector, both military and civilian, for in-depth lectures, exchange of experience and a stronger commitment to the implementation of gender perspective in the own organization. The seminar was conducted under Chatham House rule, providing the participants with a setting where open discussions could take place and where questions and key challenges could be addressed.

The seminar was chaired by Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren, who in previous years has attended the seminar as a participant. RA Haggren shared his own experience of working with gender perspective on the strategic level, and his personal engagement in the currently ongoing Gender Coach program.

Seminar Chair RA Haggren flanked by Ms Linda Johansson, NCGM.

Participating as lecturers at the seminar were several experts in their field. Dr. Louise Olsson, Senior adviser at Folke Bernadotte Academy and researcher at Uppsala University, presented the background and historical context of UNSCR 1325 and its implementation into military structure.

Dr. Olsson posed the question if it is even possible for the armed forces "not doing gender". The answer from the participants was – if so, we will miss half of the population.

Dr. Robert Egnell, Professor of Leadership and Head of the department of Security, Strategy and Leadership at the Defence University, gave examples and addressed the challenges relating to implementing gender on strategic level through Ends, Ways and Means. Some of the key challenges identified were that the organizations themselves must formulate and understand the effectiveness an integrated gender perspective could generate. Getting to and changing mindset of the "middle management" of the organization was identified as a key factor for success for several of the attending key leaders.

One of the highlights of the seminar was the live video conference lecture on Gender and Leadership held by Air Marshall Graham Stacey, Chief of Staff at NATO HQ SACT. His strong message and commitment to gender implementation hit the mark with many of the participants. Clearly stating that: "Gender impacts every single thing we do in operations and in conflicts" and "Doing nothing is not an option" reinforced the aim of the seminar and contributed to the following discussions about how to operationalize gender into the organization – from directives, to doctrine, to individual and collective training.

Together Dr. Egnell and Dr. Maria Eriksson Baaz, Associate Professor at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, discussed the challenges posed by conflict related sexual violence (CRSV). Understanding the important role Key Leaders serve when combatting Conflict Related Sexual Violence was one of the main learning objectives of the seminar.

Dr Robert Egnell.

Ann Bernes, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator of the Feminist Foreign Policy at Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, spoke of implementing gender perspective at a strategic level using the current Swedish government's process of launching the feminist foreign policy within their own structures.
Ambassador Marriët Schuurman, NATO Special Representative on Women Peace and Security, summed up the two days as the final speaker, interconnecting the seminar themes with NATOSs priorities. The Ambassador rounded off by calling gender integration a "slow but unstoppable revolution".

The next Key Leader Seminar on Gender in Military Operations will be co-coordinated between NCGM and NATO HQ SACT in Norfolk, USA on the 7-8 September 2016. In June 2017 the seminar will once again take place in Stockholm, Sweden.

From left to right: Col Havryliuk and Ms Barynina from the Ukraine MOD, and MG Harris from the Royal Canadian Air Force. "Sweden on a bad day is better than the most of us when it comes to gender." - MG Harris.