Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

International conference "Gender equality in the defence system - achievements and perspectives" opened

In the Central Military Club in Belgrade today a two-day international conference "Gender equality in the defence system - achievements and perspectives" was opened, organized by the Institute for Strategic Research and UNDP / SEESAC organization with the aim of exchanging experience in the field of gender equality with foreign countries, but also to combine the experience of local civil and military sectors.

Opening the conference, Director of the Institute for Strategic Research Jovanka Saranovic pointed out that this year marks the 15th anniversary of the implementation of Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council - Women, Peace and Security, which is the cornerstone of international concern for gender equality and the rights of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict areas.

- With the adoption of the National Action Plan, Serbia has committed to gender equality, especially in the security sector, which has always been known as typically male – Saranovic said, noting that today the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces are leaders in the institutionalization and implementation of active measures to establish and promote gender equality and the status of women in the security sector. She also reminded that the Ministry of Defence was among the first ones to establish the Analytical Group, has appointed Gender Adviser of the Minister of Defence and activated the mechanism of "person of trust".
She pointed out that, today, women and girls in the army have access to all levels of schooling, education and training, adding that women now make up 20 per cent of the cadets at the Military Academy, as well as that, as of last year, women have been enrolling in the Military High School.

In the opening remarks, Commissioner for Equality Brankica Jankovic pointed out that Serbia has achieved great progress in this field, especially in the security sector, which until recently was considered strictly a male environment.

- Practice has shown that adequate education is the best way for achieving all the objectives, including gender equality guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. In fact, a month ago we had the chance to see it, when, for the first time in military education, the three best cadets at the Military Academy were female cadets – Commissioner said, congratulating the Ministry of Defence for " showing everyone what impartial assessment looks like". She pointed out that Serbia has shown that it can, despite the difficulties it faces, be a country of equal citizens.

According to her, the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces have taken significant measures in recent years to remove barriers to greater participation of women in the security sector, which is best evidenced by the higher percentage of their presence and expanding areas of their work engagement. Jankovic assessed the cooperation with the Ministry of Defence as very good, pointing out that so far the Ministry of Defence has been sent seven recommendations that it fully implemented.

Among the speakers, at the opening was resident coordinator of UN and resident representative of the UN Development programme Irena Vojackova-Sollorano who pointed out that the SEESAC organization and the United Nations Development Programme have had a long cooperation with the armed forces of many countries, including Serbia, which has noted progress in the field of gender equality.

- Generally speaking, this year, the United Nations are at a turning point, and, for us, starting next year will be much different, because we have prepared for the next period a very ambitious sustainable development and objectives for all member states – Sollorano said, noting that the conferences are the key in promoting desired goals. She stressed that the girls who dared to be among the first to enter the security system and break the ice are courageous and ambitious and expressed her confidence that there will be such women in the future as well. She noted that the changes in society happen quickly and that it is necessary to keep up with them, which includes a greater representation of women in the security system.

This year's international conference brought together more than 40 participants and experts from the security system, from national and foreign universities and international organizations. Besides them, the two-day lecture designed in six different panels will be attended by foreign military representatives and members of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces.

It is the third conference devoted to the gender aspect in the defence system organized by the Strategic Research Institute in cooperation with strategic partners. The first one, "Women in the Army" was organized in cooperation with the OSCE mission in the Republic of Serbia in 2006, and as its specific benefit, next year, for the first time, girls entered the Military Academy. The second, "Women in the security sector - regional perspective" was held with the financial support of the MoD of the Kingdom of Norway in 2010, after which the implementation of the first National Action Plan for the application of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 - Women, Peace and Security started in Serbia. After the third conference, which will present the achievements and prospects, comes the evaluation, revision of the current NAP and defining of concrete steps for the future.