Historical archive

Female soldiers: Militarization or peacekeeping?

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Defence

Welcome remarks by Political adviser Ragnhild Mathisen, Ministry of Defence, at the PRIO seminar, June 22, 2006.

Female soldiers: Militarization or peacekeeping?

Welcome remarks by Political adviser Ragnhild Mathisen, Ministry of Defence, at the PRIO seminar, June 22, 2006

Good morning!

It is a great honour for me to be able to say a few words here at the opening of this seminar. I think we are up for a very interesting day focusing on women and the armed forces and how they mutually affect each other and the society. The academic and the military aspect of the question will be illuminated by people with extensive experience in the field. I therefore believe that this seminar will be a great contribution to get a bird’s eye perspective on what we are doing and how we can improve our actions. And I am looking forward to listen to Cynthia Enloe.

I’m particularly happy to be here today since this seminar also is the start of the new and extended engagement that PRIO will be taking to strengthen the research and knowledge on women and conflict. We need to have independent bodies like PRIO to do research on the consequences of military engagements in order for the military forces to be able to tailor their operations to the realities in the field. That is also the reason why the Ministry of Defence has decided to sponsor a project called Gender Aspects of International Military Interventions: National and international perspectives. It is Ms. Inger Skjelsbæk here at PRIO who will be in charge of the project.

International operations need to be scrutinized, evaluated and adapted according to the results we would like to see. We have to make sure that our gains are as close to our goals as possible. To achieve this, a joint engagement is needed.

The present political leadership in the Ministry of Defence has increased participation of women in the military forces as a central aim. The armed forces need more women if they are to succeed in their task. We need women in all parts of the organisation. By being role models, women send the message to the general public that the defence sector has equally good career opportunities for women as for men. We are not happy with seven percent women among our officers and contract personnel. Calling in all females to voluntary military classification and registration will hopefully contribute to a rapid increase in women among the conscripts, and in a few years also among officers and the contributors to peacekeeping operations. As most of you know, military classification for women will be established this autumn and we expect concrete results of it. If we believe in a society with equality between men and women we need to use the opportunity that the international operations provide, to demonstrate that equality is more than words. We must use the international operations as a show case for our own political system.

Women’s issues need to be taken into consideration to a greater extent in the way international operations are being conducted. Our military personnel, both women and men, must be properly trained and educated. “The Norwegian Government’s Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security” is a good tool in order to work systematically and coordinated on these issues. The tasks outlined in the action plan have implications on all levels and areas of the military’s engagement in international operations.

I would like to use this occasion to thank Ms. Helga Hernes and Ms. Torunn Tryggestad, who made the plan in cooperation with the ministries involved.

With these remarks I wish you all a good seminar!