Workshop on Women, Peace and Security

Statement by Deputy Military Adviser Mette Birkelund O'Connor at the 3rd Peacekeeping Ministerial Preparatory Meeting, 28 January 2019.

| Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Dear colleagues, friends,

First of all, thank you to the organisers Ethiopia and Canada for a very well prepared and good conference. Special thanks to our hosts Ethiopia for welcoming us to your country.

Thank you for giving me the floor to touch briefly on Norway’s priorities when it comes to Women, Peace and Security and the importance of female peacekeepers in particular. Gender Parity for Uniformed Personnel is a key priority for Norway and we strongly support the development of this strategy.

Last week I attended the briefing by Under Secretary-General Lacroix from Department of Peace Operations (DPO) on the UN’s new Gender Parity Strategy for Uniformed Personnel.

Let me start by saying, Norway is very proud to work closely with the UN Secretary-General and the UN leadership who are committed to and outspoken about the important role of women at all levels in UN peacekeeping. We believe that strong leadership is absolutely fundamental when it comes to battling predetermined ideas about women’s roles and limitations.

When it comes to the Gender Parity Strategy, Norway particularly supports the recommended actions for recruitment and training, stating amongst others that Office of Military Affairs (OMA) will «consistently fill contracted military positions with a woman from the recommended list as long as their qualifications are equal or superior to the other candidates.»

We also fully support and strongly encourage the creation of more female networks and more outreach activity to reach women who want to serve but does not receive the necessary information to do so.

Norway, together with Sweden, established the Women Military Network in New York one year ago. Currently Norway is chairing the network. The network consists of women with military background or women who works on military peacekeeping, either with the Member States or with the UN Secretariat. The network meets once a month to discuss outreach and how we can work together to reach the goals when it comes to female peacekeepers. 

Norway launched its 4th and most recent Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security a little more than two weeks ago. The goal of the Action Plan is to ensure that the rights, needs and priorities of both women and men are safeguarded throughout all Norwegian efforts aimed at peace and security.

Norway is currently working on a more detailed media campaign to increase the knowledge of UN operations in general and the important role of female peacekeepers in particular. For the latter part it will amongst others focus on female officers’ right to serve.

I will finish off with a few words on the status in the Norwegian Armed Forces and National Police Service recognising that the work most needed starts at home.

All branches, including the Special Forces, are open to women in the Norwegian Armed Forces. Due to long-term commitment and the introduction of universal conscription in 2015, we are proud to say that we today have 12% female officers and 26% female conscripts. We are continuously working to keep the high number of 15-16% female peacekeepers in our three UN missions.

Gender balance has also been a priority for our National Police Service. Today we have about 46% women in the Police Service. Our goal is furthermore to have 30% women in leadership positions within 2022. We are soon there. With an all-time high of 46 percent women among the students admitted to the Police University College, the future looks bright.

Approximately one third of our police advisors in international operations are currently women.

Numbers count, but it is important to look beyond the numbers and focus on the operational benefits of having more female peacekeepers. Promoting women’s participation is not a gesture to women; there should be no doubt that the increasing number of female peacekeepers is a question of effectively and sustainably preventing and resolving conflicts.This will only be fulfilled if we ensure that the women deployed are given meaningful tasks in line with their qualifications.

We commend DPO and the Member States for their continued commitment to reach the goals when it comes to female peacekeepers.

Thank you for your attention.