SERBIA: Introducing Gender Advisors In The Security Sector In Serbia

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

The round table, held at Centre's premises on March 1, was opened by welcome speech of Tanja Miscevic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Defence. During her speech, she discussed the process of developing a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in Serbia and its significance for achieving equality of men and women in Serbia. Miscevic pointed out that civil society organizations were the first ones that began to talk about the need to pass such a document. The Serbian government also recognized the importance of this topic and the different ministries, primarily the Ministry of Defence and the Interior Ministry, got actively involved in the process of drafting recommendations for the completion of NAP. The Ministry of Defence has further fostered these efforts by leading the process of the drafting of NAP, which was adopted in late December 2010. With the adoption of NAP, Serbia got in the company of only a few developed countries that have adopted such a document. This is also an indicator that shows that gender equality is one of the priorities of the Government of Serbia.

Who are gender advisors?

Gender advisors serve as one of the mechanisms for gender mainstreaming in the security sector that is envisaged by NAP. Their main task will be to formulate recommendations and measures for establishing gender equality in the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, the Customs Administration and the Security Information Agency.

Gorana Odanovic, a researcher in the BCBP, presented possible duties that advisors can perform and the benefits of introducing this mechanism. She pointed out that the gender advisors were first introduced in 2000, as part of UN peacekeeping missions in East Timor and Kosovo. Their main task was to provide support to the mission's staff, so that the planning, implementation and evaluation of all the tasks of the mission would include a gender perspective. Countries like Sweden, Norway and Canada were among the first to introduce gender advisors into the national military and/or police at the national level, due to lessons-learned from the UN peacekeeping missions in which the gender advisors were employed.

The advisors should work on the development of anti-discrimination policies aimed at preventing and punishing gender-based discrimination, both within the security sector (towards employees), and to the citizens, beneficiaries of the security sector. Advisors would organize (and implement) trainings and seminars for administrating and command staff and other employees of the security institutions in order to acquaint them with the principles of gender equality, the connections of gender and security, gender-based violence, as well as the function and importance of gender analysis and gender budgeting. Advisors would also be engaged in the promotion of the employment of women in the security institutions by designing of campaigns for admission that would attract more women and girls. They would have the role of "gender focal points" for cooperation with civil society organizations, and they should also regularly exchange experiences and best practices with gender advisors in different institutions. Further, advisors would carry out the proposed duties in cooperation with other mechanisms for achieving gender equality in the security sector, as envisaged by NAP, as well as with the different directorates and departments within institutions, such as the department of human resources management, education and training (for more information see the presentation "Advisors for gender equality" in the appendix).

Different experiences of introducing gender advisors in security sector

Gender mainstreaming in the security sector requires "top-down” approach, i.e. political support of decision and policy - makers in the security sector institutions. Colonel Alderado Garcia Garzon talked about the experiences of introducing gender advisers in the Spanish Armed Forces. Garzon pointed out that this process takes place in Spain on two levels. The first is the political level, where the analysis of impact of various practical policies and regulations on gender equality is being done, while the second level is operational. In the beginning of the introduction of gender advisors in the armed forces there was a misunderstanding of colleagues and superiors. When they were presented with benefits of introducing gender advisors, such as increasing of the operational efficiency (e.g. obtaining more information from different sources), higher ethics in the work of military personnel in peacekeeping missions (e.g. by pointing out to the soldiers that human trafficking almost always lays behind the prostitution), as well as improving of the image of the military in public, prejudices were braked down. However, the introduction of gender equality in all areas of the defence system is a long process that requires constant education and training of all members in the military (for more information see the presentation "Introducing GA in AF of Spain).

Experiences of gender mainstreaming in the EU police and military missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina was presented by Aleksandra Miletic-Santic and Nikolina Marceta who are currently at the position of gender advisors. In the EUPM, besides the person who is a full time gender advisor, there is a system of "gender focal points" in different organizational/territorial units, who perform these duties along with their other regular duties, said Miletic-Santic. "Gender focal points" are assembled in the Gender Coordination Board whose competence is to consider various proposals, measures and activities in the field of gender equality. Some of the results of the EUPM gender advisers are: improved working conditions in the entity and cantonal police stations, better promotion of women's recruitment in the police, the enhanced consultation mechanism between the police and women's organizations, etc.

The EUFOR gender advisor was established in 2005 and has begun to work in 2006. In the beginning there was also a certain lack of understanding of this subject, but it turned out that this can change if the trainings of the staff are carefully designed so that the emphasis is always on operational efficiency. "The military and the police focus is always on operational efficiency, everything that is commonplace or practical policy will not be accepted as relevant to their work," Marceta said.

During the roundtable, participants discussed about the obstacles for introduction of gender equality mechanisms in the security sector in Serbia, such as changes in the management of human resources and limited opportunities for the introduction of new job posts due to the reduction of state administration, lack of funds etc. In addition, it was emphasised that gender mainstreaming should become a part of the whole system of public administration. It was concluded that it is necessary to work on education and training of security sector personnel to deal with these issues, as well as the establishment of cooperation between different bodies envisaged by NAP, including cooperation with civil society organizations.