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Special session of OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation marks 18th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, peace and security

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VIENNA, 31 October 2018 – A special session of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation, held under the Forum’s Swedish Chair, today marked the 18th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security – a landmark document, speakers said, which stresses the importance of full and equal participation of women and men in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

“Without equal participation, women are not sufficiently heard, opportunities to find new approaches and solutions are lost, and the chance to get the full picture, encompassing both female and male perspectives, is undoubtedly missed,” said Chairperson of the Forum and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the OSCE Ambassador Ulrika Funered as she opened today’s meeting.

Noting that women remain under-represented in the OSCE’s two key decision-making fora – the Permanent Council and the Forum for Security Co-operation – she introduced a video featuring the 18 female heads of delegation together calling for commitment to implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

“It is my hope, that we can use this anniversary to listen just a tiny bit harder and reflect on what our speakers today have to tell us – and bring these wisdoms with us in our coming work on these issues,” added Ambassador Funered. “Then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to achieve tangible results that are worth celebrating, when the time comes to commemorate the Resolution’s 20th anniversary in 2020.”

The first speaker, Brigadier David Eastman MBE, Deputy Director for Euro-Atlantic Security at the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom, recalled that Resolution 1325 is based on “the three Ps”: the participation _of women, the _protection and the prevention of civilians from conflict-related sexual violence.

“The ‘three Ps’ are critical in respecting human rights and achieving human security,” he said. “The Resolution forces us to acknowledge that just because a state is secure it doesn’t mean that the individuals within in it are.”

Lieutenant Colonel Rachel Grimes MBE, Staff Officer Level 1 (Military) for Women, Peace and Security at the British Ministry of Defence, spoke about her experiences in the British Armed Forces. She highlighted the work of Female Engagement Teams which were launched by ISAF, the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan.

“The ability of the Female Engagement Teams to search women without causing cultural offence and stoking the insurgency more, is a clear force protection capability,” she said. “It is becoming obvious that when a military is operating amongst the population, having mixed patrols enhances our interaction and reputation.”

Captain Inna Zavorotko, Officer of the Military Law Section at the Legal Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that the country’s Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces had adopted action plans on implementing Resolution 1325, with gender perspectives incorporated from the level of headquarters through to ground level, as well as in recruitment and education practices.

“The integration of gender perspectives in the education and training system aim at raising gender awareness of all military personnel and encourage women to undertake active participation in the training process,” she said. “Integrating gender perspectives into the Armed Forces is not a mere trend - it is a necessity and a right to one’s professional development.”

Captain Lotta Ekvall of the Swedish Armed Forces’ Helicopter Wing, presented a new OSCE publication, Gender in military operations: Guidance for personnel working at tactical level in Peace Support Operations, which she developed at the Gender Section of the OSCE Secretariat.

“As far as I know, a publication like this that directly addresses soldiers and commanders at tactical level, giving clear direction and guidance about how gender perspectives are to be integrated into military objectives and tasks, has not existed until now,” she said. “Those at the tactical level are the implementers - the ones who are supposed to make things happen. If they are gender blind, so is the mission or organization.”

Following the meeting, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Permanent Delegation of Sweden to the OSCE, together with the support of the Permanent Delegation of Canada to the OSCE, organized a side event on the role of military commanders in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, both in peacetime and in crisis response operations.

During the event, experts presented challenges for armed forces in this area, as well as opportunities for awareness-raising, capacity-building, and policy-making aimed at integrating human rights-compliant and gender-sensitive approaches into their work.

"The responsibility to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence should be a daily task for military commanders,” said Omer Fisher, Head of the Human Rights Department at ODIHR. “This task is about educating soldiers to understand the root causes of violence and make this understanding part of their work; it is about building an institutional culture which does not discriminate nor tolerates harassment, misogyny and abuse within and outside of the armed forces."

Ambassador Funered added: “Equal participation of women and men in military operations does not only improve operational effectiveness, for instance through the ability to reach out to the whole population instead of half, but also significantly contributes to stopping human rights violations, including sexual violence.”

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