Written by Major Bruce Foster
On 19th May 2010 COM EUFOR, Major General Bernhard Bair, opened the “Gender Awareness in Peace Support Operations (PSO)” conference at the PSO Training Centre of the Armed Forces of BiH (AFBiH) in Camp Butmir today. In marking the 10th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, General Bair said it
”is recognized as one of the most important international mandates … [for] enabling the full and equal participation of women in peace and security initiatives. It has facilitated the mainstreaming of gender issues in the context of armed conflict, peace-building and reconstruction processes…It is important to note that here [in BiH] gender is incorporated into their constitution.”
Also noting the significance in PSO of a gender perspective, General Bair continued:
“Fostering of balanced gender awareness, thus contributing to the overall situational awareness has become more critical in light of the increasing complexity of civil-military interaction…In our Liaison and Observation Teams situated throughout [BiH], I recognize the important and very positive contribution of our female soldiers and in particular their effectiveness as role models within the local community.”
This conference represents a very positive step in realizing the promise of the joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UN Development Fund for Women, the EU Police Mission and EUFOR. This MOU enhances mutual understanding and cooperation between military and civilian police personnel and citizens, particularly women, in BiH.
Among the delegates who addressed the conference were Lt Col Mersida Mesetovic from the AFBiH, who served as a Sector Commander of Military Observer’s in the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2005/2006. She addressed the conference on ‘Gender Awareness and Perspectives in UN Observer Missions’. EUFOR Gender Focal Point Mrs. Nikolina Marceta also addressed the conference on ‘Gender Mainstreaming in Operation Althea’. The conference was attended by delegates from the Ministries of Defence of EUFOR nations, the EU Council Secretariat, Diplomatic Corps, EUPM, UNIFEM, ICTY, OHR, NATO, AFBiH, NGO’s and EUFOR staff.
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