Despite institutional commitment to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), women are still largely under-represented in crisis management, security and defence. NATO and the Council of the EU have striven for more inclusion, adopting a Joint Declaration to consider issues on WPS in 2017. The European Commission has also committed to better inclusion of women in peace and security in its strategic policies. However, the translation of these commitments into practice has fallen short. According to the #SHEcurity Index, women on average make up only 11% of military staff and 25% of police forces in the EU, its member states and the G20. Furthermore, the WPS Agenda lacks a holistic approach to gender and its narrow approach overlooks the experiences of LGBTIQ+ people in conflict and disaster settings, as well as within security institutions. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a transgender military ban exposed US service members to be discharged on the basis of gender identity, until the Biden administration repealed the ban in January 2021.
In addition to the obstacles in joining security forces, both women and members of the LGBTIQ+ community face stigma and prejudices once serving, which can often go unrecognised. Whether unbalanced representation is caused by a lack of diversity or reluctant hiring processes, a more pro-active approach is needed in order to achieve better inclusion in the peace and security workforce. Additionally, a broader understanding of the WPS framework would strengthen the concept of gender equality and weaken the effects of discrimination, promoting the transformation of military culture into a more inclusive and diverse environment.
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- Considering evidence that diversity and inclusion in decision-making and strategic, operational thinking in security institutions are a net positive and research on how gender, sexuality and races are not a determinant factor of capability: how does gender matter in progressing security and defence?
- What role can the EU play in harmonising national legislation in an environment where several member states have regressed on LGBTIQ+ and women’s rights?
- How can leaders in the defence and security fields provide the right signals and set the tone for a more inclusive and gender positive approach in their practice within security institutions?
Sergeant Major in the Swedish Armed Forces
Member of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defence
Police Sergeant at Police Scotland and Director of Communications at the European LGBT Police Association (EGPA)
Elena Saenz Feehan
Programme Manager for Peace, Security and Defence and member of the WIIS (Women In International Security) Steering Committee
Marie Meigård is an accomplished officer in the Swedish Armed Force, with over 25 years of experience. She has been heavily involved in the women´s network within the armed forces throughout her entire career. Meigård is also a member of the board of the Swedish Association of Military Officers (SAMO), which is part of the wider EUROMIL organisation. A champion for inclusivity and diversity in culture and the workplace, she is personally committed to the belief that people and strong leadership are essential for change.
Dr Hannah Neumann is a German MEP and Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). She is a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights, which monitors the work of the European Union as well as the situation of LGBTI people in EU member states and beyond. A vocal advocate for gender equality in peace, security and foreign policy, Neumann initiated the #SHEcurity online campaign in 2020 and the subsequent launch of the #SHEcurity Index. The campaign aims to highlight the roles and involvement of women in peace and security (WPS) and accelerate the process towards a better implementation of the WPS Agenda.
Alan Sneddon has been an advocate of LGBTI inclusion and equality for over 20 years. In addition to his current roles at Police Scotland and the EGPA, he has held several senior roles in the UK Gay Police Association (GPA), Scottish LGBTI Police Association and EGPA. He notably held the first ever full time LGBT police staff association post in Europe during his time at GPA. In 2003, Sneddon was also among the police officers to take part in a Pride parade in uniform.
Elena is a Programme Manager at Friends of Europe’s Peace, Security and Defence team. She is also member of the Steering Committee at Women In International Security (WIIS) Brussels. Prior to joining Friends of Europe, she worked at Peace Brigades International UK assisting in the protection of human rights defenders, organisations and communities at risk. Elena holds an MA in International Conflict studies from King’s College London University, and a BA in Political and Administration Sciences from Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.
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