Defence Women in Peace and Security Conference shows critical importance of women in conflict zones
26 June 2014
The critical need to protect women and girls, the role of women in conflict zones as community leaders, and the role of women in the military were examined as part of the Defence Women in Peace and Security Conference 2014 in Canberra 16-17 June 2014.
The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, who gave presentations on both days of the conference, said that actively engaging women in all phases of conflict is important to minimise conflict and build a sustainable peace.
“For many years, women have been identified as a vulnerable group in conflict and our role in ‘protection’ has been clear. The women, peace and security agenda calls on us to recognize their role as agents of change, not as victims of conflict, and embedding this into our operations will be critical to operational effectiveness going forward,” said General Hurley.
The two-day Women in Peace and Security Conference brought together experts and stakeholders from across Defence and Government.
The first day of the conference was dedicated to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), which recognises the impact of armed conflict on women and girls.
The second day focussed on cultural reform in Defence, the actions Defence needs to take to allow women to reach their full potential in the organisation and how to address the myths of women in the ADF.
Speakers and attendees included representatives from NATO, the United Nations, the United States Marine Corps as well as members of the public service, the three Services, Australian Federal Police, national security community, and from academia.
The conference covered a range of topics including the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in current operations in Afghanistan, as well as the barriers ADF women face in non-traditional employment structures and operations; and a presentation of myths of women in the ADF encountered by the Australian Sex Discrimmination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick in her presentation: The Treatment of Women in the ADF Review—A Case for Change.
The conference also saw General Hurley launch the updated publication Women, Peace & Security: an introductory manual.
The Australian National Committee for UN Women developed the manual with assistance from the Australian Civil-Military Centre. The manual will be used as a general reference guide to assist in training civil and military audiences. The manual will also form part of the training package Defence is developing on Women, Peace and Security.
“This training manual will be shared widely within the ADF and will help to raise awareness about the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, ensuring that women play a central role in all aspects of the peace and security processes,” said General Hurley.
In his closing address General Hurley, said the 2014 conference showed that the participation of women, both culturally and operationally, was vital to the health of a modern Defence force and to the success of a deployment.
“We ask a lot of the women in our organisation. We ask them to do their jobs well, but we also ask them to be advocates and role models for the young women who follow them,” said General Hurley.
The 2014 Women in Peace and Security event is the second in a series of conferences hosted by CDF. The first conference, Gender in Defence and Security Leadership in March 2013, brought together stakeholders from across Australia to determine the hard decisions required to achieve a workforce that better represented contemporary Australian society while enhancing the ability achieve Defence’s capability objectives.
The conference and the manual are part of Defence’s contribution to the Australian National Action Plan for Women in Peace and Security 2012–2018, which sets out what Australia will do, at home and overseas, to integrate a gender perspective into its peace and security efforts, protect women and girls’ human rights, and promote their participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
“To have its greatest effect, engaging women should be considered a primary element of our operations rather than an adjunct duty. Engaging women in all aspects of the peace process is critical if we are to ensure that peace is sustainable in a community once peacekeepers depart” said General Hurley.
The Australian National Action Plan for Women in Peace and Security 2012–2018 is a living document with reviews every two years to ensure the Plan remains current. It can be found on the website for the Australian National Committee for UN Women: http://unwomen.org.au
For more information about Defence’s responsibilities for the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2012–2018 please see the Defence NAP page.