Reflections and photo report on the NAP 1325 Signatory Event: "Women, Men, Peace & Security "

On the 7th of March the NAP 1325 community convened at the ministry of Defence to explore inspiring initiatives, projects, research and methodologies on how to engage men and masculinities in the Women, Peace & Security agenda.  

Inspiring plenary speeches 

The Signatory Event started with Deputy Director Operations Arnoud Stallmann, who emphasised the importance of understanding the role and needs of both women and men in armed conflict. He highlighted that a gender lens needs to be included in the process of operations. Minister of Defence, Kajsa Ollongeren, opened the event by stipulating the need to accelerate progress in implementing the Women, Peace & Security agenda in the armed forces: “Let’s be honest, we don’t see enough progress yet.” Moreover, the Minister addressed the need to include more women in the armed forces, not only to increase diversity, but also because women contribute to stability and effectiveness. “Peace only lasts if it is inclusive.”  

Colonel Innes Catton of the United Kingdom Armed forces shared in a keynote speech how he trained commanding officers to include women in the armed forces. He addressed the challenges in this process as well as lessons learned but emphasised there are still hidden barriers to include women in military. In addition, an Iraqi women’s rights activist and academic researcher shared her insights on why traditional ideas about masculinity and feminity can hinder sustainable peace, and how security and defence staff can contribute to inclusive security and sustainable peace.  

The plenary session was closed by Peter Derrek Hof, Ambassador for Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He highlighted that feminism is for everyone: “Engaging men and boys is crucial in changing harmful gender norms.” Koen Davidse, Director General Policy at the Ministry of Defense, also held a closing speech and underlined the importance to pay attention to internal diversity in order to carry out diversity in external missions. Both re-emphasised the importance of engaging men in the WPS agenda, whether in the military or elsewhere.  
Interactive fringe sessions  
The speeches were followed by interactive fringe sessions hosted by PAX, CARE Netherland, Mensen met een Missie, Tearfund, and the Ministry of Defence. PAX facilitated a discussion on how Feminist Foreign Policies can be applied to protect civilians and mitigate civilian harm. Here, participants exchanged their perspective on the benefits of a gender-sensitive people-centered security, which takes potential civilian harm and non-violence foreign policy approaches into account ahead of deciding on military intervention.  

CARE, Mensen met een Missie and Tearfund presented methodologies and lessons identified to engage male traditional and religious leaders. CARE and Mensen met een Missie explained how engaging men, specifically tradition and religious leaders is successful in the MAnU 2.0 programme in DRC and Burundi. Tearfund highlighted the successes and challenges in transforming gender norms and behaviours, based on their evaluation research of the EFLC programme.   

During the fringe session organised by the Ministry of Defence, Air Commodore Arnoud Stallman, Deputy Director Operations Ministry of Defence and Caroline Burger, Gender Advisor at the Ministry of Defence shared their views how to engage men on gender issues in the military. They stressed that gender equality is an advantage for all and an issue to be taken up by both men and women in the armed force. But also, that employing female soldiers can sometimes provide an inspiration in the countries where they are deployed. 

We look back at a successful event with so many of you!   
Find more info on the work of PAX, Tearfund, Mensen met een Missie and CARE Netherlands on engaging masculinities here (PAX), here (MmM) and here (MmM).