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Slovenia recognizes that men should promote gender equality in the military

Statement by Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia, at the 847th OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation, on "Gender Equality in the Military", Vienna, 8 March 2017

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to address the Forum for Security Co-operation in my capacity as the Chair of the OSCE MenEngage Network.  This network was launched at the OSCE in 2012 and seeks to raise awareness of the important influence men can have in ending gender-based violence and standing up to all kinds of inequality.  I am therefore pleased to be able to speak also on behalf of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Iceland, as previous OSCE MenEngage Chairmanships, as well as of Austria, Finland, Kazakhstan and Turkey, as initiators of the OSCE-Wide Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.  I am equally glad that Canada, Italy and the United States also support this statement.

Mr. Chairperson,

Today we are celebrating the International Women's Day.  This represents a welcome opportunity to remind ourselves that gender inequality affects us all.  Efforts to eradicate it should therefore come from all of us, since we all have a stake in this issue.  In this sense, today's Security Dialogue is also a timely reminder of the relevance of the gender perspective for the OSCE's First Dimension and the need to work harder to mainstream it in the military aspects of our work.   This Forum, like the rest of our Organization, should be engaged on this issue 365 days a year, in line with our collective commitments.  

It is widely recognized that gender equality cannot be achieved without the meaningful involvement of men and boys.  It is less well understood, however, that it benefits them just as much as it does women and girls.  This is also true of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.  Real-life experience has shown that increasing the number of women in crisis management processes and peacekeeping missions leads to better quality of brokerage and mediation.  It also ensures improved contacts with socially underprivileged groups in crisis areas and local women. 

While men can and need to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, it is also important that we strive to integrate a gender perspective into all peace- and security-related work, at all stages and levels, so that the needs, views and talents of both women and men can be taken into account.  This is the best way to challenge gender stereotypes and enhance the role of women in conflict prevention and peace processes.   The importance of the contribution to these efforts by the military advisers of this Forum therefore cannot be emphasized enough. 

In this context, it is worth recalling some of the initiatives already taken by the OSCE executive structures and participating States.  A case in point is the inaugural OSCE NAP Academy, organized last September in Vienna by the Gender Section.  Another one is the conference on inclusive peace and security, held last November in Berlin by the previous German OSCE Chairmanship.  These events represented concrete actions in supporting the implementation of 1325 and subsequent resolutions, adopted by the UN Security Council, which together form the Women, Peace and Security agenda.  It is therefore important that the current Austrian OSCE Chairmanship has placed this watershed resolution, as well as gender equality and women’s empowerment, high among its priorities. 

Mr. Chairperson,

Before concluding, I would like to use this opportunity to call once again for the adoption of an OSCE-Wide Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, initiated by Austria, Finland, Kazakhstan and Turkey in 2013.  The draft Action Plan does not seek to create new commitments for the OSCE participating States, but instead to enhance our tools to implement the already existing ones in this field.

Finally, I would like to thank all the speakers of this very gender balanced panel, but especially Major Amy Grant and Lieutenant Elena Raluca Radu, for their presentations.  I would also like to commend the Romanian FSC Chairmanship and you personally, Ambassador Istrate, for convening today's Security Dialogue on this important topic and encourage representatives of all the future chairmanships to follow your example.  Let me use the opportunity as well to ask you to attach this statement to the journal of the meeting.

Thank you.