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Promote the visibility of women in leadership positions in the security sector

Statement by Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia, at the 911th Meeting of the Forum for Security Co-operation, on "Participation of Women in the Security Sector: From the Why to the How", Vienna, 27 March 2019

Mr. Chairperson,

I should like to commend the Swiss FSC Chairmanship for organizing this Security Dialogue on the important topic of women, peace and security, and to thank Foreign Minister Frick of Liechtenstein and Brigadier General Batut of France for their excellent presentations. As you pointed out yourself, the aim of this event is to cause the debate on gender mainstreaming in the security sector to move on from the “why” to the “how” stage. Permit me, therefore, to observe that as the Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the OSCE I fully support this approach. On the basis of my experience as the Chairperson of the OSCE MenEngage Network, however, I should like to point out that there are still many “doubting Thomases” out there. Of course, this biblical idiom is by no means an allusion to our Secretary General, who is not only a member of the Network, but also a recognized International Gender Champion. But it is precisely because sceptics still abound, Mr. Chairperson, that we should never tire of explaining “why” promoting equal opportunities for women and men in the OSCE’s first dimension is both the right and smart thing to do.

I shall now, though, put on my national hat again, and, as a complement to what has already been said on behalf of the European Union, briefly inform you on “how” we do it in Slovenia. First, I should like to point out that, in our experience, it is important to promote the visibility of women who occupy leadership positions, since that sends out an important signal to society. Our country has already seen women hold the key ministerial portfolios of defence and the interior. Last year, a further step was taken with the appointment of a female Chief of the General Staff and a female Director General of the Police. In other words, both the armed forces and the police in Slovenia today are headed by women.

Second, we have discovered that national action plans on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 need to take account more effectively of new trends and emerging security challenges. Our second national action plan, which we adopted last year, was therefore shortened in duration to cover three rather than five years. Some changes have also been made to its structure so that, instead of three priority areas, it now has five. The new areas are “education and training” and “accountability”. These additions are consistent with, inter alia, the introduction of systematic awareness-raising in the Slovenian armed forces and police to ensure that when responding to new security challenges we never lose sight of women’s rights. Such changes have been specifically informed by our experiences with the integration of a gender perspective in the management of large flows of migrants and refugees on the Western Balkan route in 2015–2016 and in countering violent extremism. As far as accountability is concerned, we intend to continue setting high standards for our military and police personnel who are deployed to operations and missions abroad, especially when their mandate is to protect women and girls and to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations.

Lastly, I should like to point out that in order to make its implementation more efficient, the new national action plan includes some changes regarding monitoring and reporting. It calls for the preparation of annual reports and the submission of a final report to the Government at the end of the three year period. Ownership and monitoring have also been strengthened by the addition of a requirement to hold regular meetings between directors and experts from relevant ministries and civil society representatives. This, in our view, will also help to enhance co operation among the various stakeholders.

Before concluding, I should like to take this opportunity to pose a few questions to the distinguished panellists:

Foreign Minister Frick, the fact that you trained as a military pilot in the Swiss armed forces is not only impressive, but also establishes a special connection between Liechtenstein and my country, since the Slovenian armed forces use the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-9 aircraft, even for the purposes of joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training in collaboration with NATO Allies and partners. The baseline study report on “Women in the Armed Forces in the OSCE Region”, which was issued by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) last year during the Slovenian FSC Chairmanship, emphasizes the need to ensure that new military equipment is designed and procured on the basis of ergonomic data for both men and women. May I therefore ask whether during your training to become a military pilot you encountered any issues with equipment that had been designed primarily for men?

Brigadier General Batut, I noticed that in your presentation you said that gender mainstreaming in the French armed forces had only really taken off after the introduction of professionalization. I would therefore be interested to hear your opinion on any connection between equal opportunities in the security sector and an all-professional army, as opposed to a conscript one.

With this, Mr. Chairperson, I should like to congratulate you again for holding this Security Dialogue and ask you to attach this statement to the journal of the day.

Thank you.