Women Help the Armed Forces Achieve Peace, Security and Development Goals

Women Help the Armed Forces Achieve Peace, Security and Development Goals

By Dialogo
May 27, 2015




Military officials from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and Norway shared their experiences on the growing role of women in the Armed Forces for their respective countries during a recent conference in Chile, “Women and the Armed Forces: How Far We Have Come in the Last Decade.”

The conference, organized by Chile’s Ministry of Defense, was developed within the framework of the inclusion and non-discrimination policies championed by President Michelle Bachelet. It was held on May 6-7 at the Chilean Joint Peace Operations Center, and led by Chile’s Under Secretary of the Armed Forces, Gabriel Gaspar.

Major General Javier Fernández of the Colombian Army also attended the event. Mexico was represented by Brigadier General Jorge Pedro Nieto Sánchez, from the Department of National Defense (SEDNA), as well as Rear Admiral César Carlos Preciado Velázquez, from the Department of the Navy (SEMAR). Defense Attaché from the Embassy of Spain, Marine Colonel Eliseo González Ferrera and by the Ambassador of Norway to Chile, Hege Araldsen also attended; the United Kingdom, meanwhile, was represented by Royal Navy Captain Angie Hancock, who is the first female naval officer to achieve the rank of Captain in the Royal British Navy, and one of only ten captains currently serving in the British Navy.

“The event’s aim was to reflect on the process for including women in Chile’s Armed Forces,” the challenges remaining, and “learning about international experiences,” according to a press release from the Chilean Ministry of Defense published on May 8.

One of the highest-impact changes to Armed Forces in Latin America has been the incorporation of women into military institutions after many years, said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a security analyst and researcher at the Social Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Currently, women represent only 14% of personnel in the Chilean Armed Forces. Chile has a total of 59,031 service members.

According to the 2014 “Comparative Atlas of Defence in Latin America and the Caribbean”, issued by the Latin American Security and Defence Network (RESDAL), the number of service members of either sex in the Armed Forces of Latin America is over 1,500,000. Of that number, today women make up a “a small Army of nearly 50,000 members within the Armed Forces of Latin America,” reported El Heraldo
on November 4, 2014.

The RESDAL study states that 106,415 women are serving in the Armed Forces of Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Guatemala and Venezuela. It reports that no data is available on the number of women in the military for Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay.

Women in the Armed Forces of Latin American countries have played roles such as field nurses, physicians, pilots, machinery commanders, radio operators, technical engineers, and leaders of technical units, among others. Colombia has largely ensured that women have an equal role in its military, Benítez said.

“Women’s contributions to security and defense are the same as men’s: an excellent job in which they participate as a matter of equality.”

In other countries, such as Mexico, participation has been a process of gradual evolution, he said. “The incorporation of women into the Armed Forces is proceeding very slowly, because we have just opened up spaces in the training schools, as in Mexico. It will take another 20 or 30 years for women to rise to the general ranks in combat units.”

But those efforts are paying off, especially in countries like Chile. In 2000, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1325, which promotes gender equality and attempts to expand the role of women in reaching peace and development goals. Chile launched its First Action Plan to implement the resolution in 2009, and issued its Second Action Plan in March; it is one of 38 countries that have developed this type of plan.

The process to include women in the Chilean Armed forces was first set out when President Bachelet was the minister of Defense. “Ten years after initiating this process, today we are studying how to expand it, [and] observing the experiences of other countries, such as with this conference,” said Gaspar.

“This involves a series of mechanisms and tools that come together in plans and programs, in laws, public actions, and the goods and services that tend to decrease and eliminate inequality and all forms of discrimination and violence against women,” said the Minister of the National Women’s Bureau (Sernam), Gloria Maira Vargas, during her presentation at the conference.

“[The Armed Forces] are a reflection of our society," said retired Chilean Army Colonel Carlos Ojeda. “We cannot ask the Armed Forces to go beyond what society itself is ready to do. To the extent that society becomes more inclusive of women, the Armed Forces will also include them.”

Women should have greater opportunities to access positions, compensation and activities that today are still being filled by men, due to cultural circumstances, he added.



Military officials from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and Norway shared their experiences on the growing role of women in the Armed Forces for their respective countries during a recent conference in Chile, “Women and the Armed Forces: How Far We Have Come in the Last Decade.”

The conference, organized by Chile’s Ministry of Defense, was developed within the framework of the inclusion and non-discrimination policies championed by President Michelle Bachelet. It was held on May 6-7 at the Chilean Joint Peace Operations Center, and led by Chile’s Under Secretary of the Armed Forces, Gabriel Gaspar.

Major General Javier Fernández of the Colombian Army also attended the event. Mexico was represented by Brigadier General Jorge Pedro Nieto Sánchez, from the Department of National Defense (SEDNA), as well as Rear Admiral César Carlos Preciado Velázquez, from the Department of the Navy (SEMAR). Defense Attaché from the Embassy of Spain, Marine Colonel Eliseo González Ferrera and by the Ambassador of Norway to Chile, Hege Araldsen also attended; the United Kingdom, meanwhile, was represented by Royal Navy Captain Angie Hancock, who is the first female naval officer to achieve the rank of Captain in the Royal British Navy, and one of only ten captains currently serving in the British Navy.

“The event’s aim was to reflect on the process for including women in Chile’s Armed Forces,” the challenges remaining, and “learning about international experiences,” according to a press release from the Chilean Ministry of Defense published on May 8.

One of the highest-impact changes to Armed Forces in Latin America has been the incorporation of women into military institutions after many years, said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a security analyst and researcher at the Social Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Currently, women represent only 14% of personnel in the Chilean Armed Forces. Chile has a total of 59,031 service members.

According to the 2014 “Comparative Atlas of Defence in Latin America and the Caribbean”, issued by the Latin American Security and Defence Network (RESDAL), the number of service members of either sex in the Armed Forces of Latin America is over 1,500,000. Of that number, today women make up a “a small Army of nearly 50,000 members within the Armed Forces of Latin America,” reported El Heraldo
on November 4, 2014.

The RESDAL study states that 106,415 women are serving in the Armed Forces of Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Guatemala and Venezuela. It reports that no data is available on the number of women in the military for Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay.

Women in the Armed Forces of Latin American countries have played roles such as field nurses, physicians, pilots, machinery commanders, radio operators, technical engineers, and leaders of technical units, among others. Colombia has largely ensured that women have an equal role in its military, Benítez said.

“Women’s contributions to security and defense are the same as men’s: an excellent job in which they participate as a matter of equality.”

In other countries, such as Mexico, participation has been a process of gradual evolution, he said. “The incorporation of women into the Armed Forces is proceeding very slowly, because we have just opened up spaces in the training schools, as in Mexico. It will take another 20 or 30 years for women to rise to the general ranks in combat units.”

But those efforts are paying off, especially in countries like Chile. In 2000, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1325, which promotes gender equality and attempts to expand the role of women in reaching peace and development goals. Chile launched its First Action Plan to implement the resolution in 2009, and issued its Second Action Plan in March; it is one of 38 countries that have developed this type of plan.

The process to include women in the Chilean Armed forces was first set out when President Bachelet was the minister of Defense. “Ten years after initiating this process, today we are studying how to expand it, [and] observing the experiences of other countries, such as with this conference,” said Gaspar.

“This involves a series of mechanisms and tools that come together in plans and programs, in laws, public actions, and the goods and services that tend to decrease and eliminate inequality and all forms of discrimination and violence against women,” said the Minister of the National Women’s Bureau (Sernam), Gloria Maira Vargas, during her presentation at the conference.

“[The Armed Forces] are a reflection of our society," said retired Chilean Army Colonel Carlos Ojeda. “We cannot ask the Armed Forces to go beyond what society itself is ready to do. To the extent that society becomes more inclusive of women, the Armed Forces will also include them.”

Women should have greater opportunities to access positions, compensation and activities that today are still being filled by men, due to cultural circumstances, he added.
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