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Changing nature of conflict calls for gender mainstreaming

Statement by Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia and Chairperson of the OSCE MenEngage Network, on the occasion of the International Women's Day, at the 910th Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation, Vienna, 13 March 2019

Mr. Chairperson,

As Chairperson of the OSCE MenEngage Network, I would like to thank you for giving me the floor. International Women’s Day, which we marked last week, represents a welcome opportunity to assess our collective efforts in advancing gender equality. This is especially important in the light of the fact that women’s empowerment is inextricably linked with the concept of comprehensive security. In other words, women’s rights are not only human rights but also constitute a key driver of economic development and prosperity and an integral element in efficient and effective military missions and peace support operations.

In this connection, I think it is relevant to recall in this Forum that the history of the OSCE MenEngage Network is actually connected with the Organization’s politico-military dimension. The idea of establishing the Network was advanced by the OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues in 2012 precisely with the aim of highlighting the importance of including women in peace and security processes. That is why the Network’s first Chairperson was a military adviser. So was his successor, until it was decided in 2015 that the Network should be led by an ambassador, on account of gender equality being a cross-cutting issue.

Still, the fact remains that the politico-military dimension remains one of the major areas where we continue to face gender equality gaps. While we are currently witnessing a rise in awareness of the importance of empowering women, the proportion of women holding positions in peace and security processes continues to remain very low. Far too often, gender equality remains an “add-on issue”, rather than being mainstreamed into all phases of the conflict cycle. Needless to say, the responsibility for addressing this situation lies both with the participating States and with the Organization as a whole.

As we remember International Women’s Day, it is therefore especially important to underline the changing nature of contemporary conflicts and security challenges. This phenomenon has not only blurred the line between combatants and civilians but has also created demands for new skills and flexible approaches. The result is that the engagement of women is now recognized as a necessity in fields as diverse as mine action and nuclear security. In other words, gender mainstreaming in what we call the politico-military dimension at the OSCE is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

With this, I would like to ask you to attach this statement to the journal of the day.

Thank you.