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PAX joins UNCSW Side-event on Women Leaders in the Military and Peacekeeping

On March 25, 2021, PAX will participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) side-event “Role of women leaders: How to increase women participation in the military and peacekeeping?”. Anna Timmerman (General Director, PAX) will share civil society perspectives on how to overcome existing challenges on women’s full and effective participation in decision-making. This event is co-hosted by the Governments of Latvia, Canada, Liberia, Maldives and Norway.

The encompassing theme of the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is women’s full and effective participation in public life and decision-making. Equal participation of women in decision-making, including within the military, is a critical factor for achieving gender equality. It broadens the prospects for peace, stability, social cohesion and economic advancement. Furthermore, inclusion of a gender perspective in all policies as well as dismantling barriers to women’s participation in all spheres of life is crucial for a more sustainable and peaceful world.

Women in leadership positions in the armed forces and in the military serve as role models for younger women and girls, empowering them to have more diverse career choices, particularly, with direct impact upon peace and security. Women can and must play a leading role in political participation, conflict resolution and the transition from conflict to peace.

Women have increasingly become part of UN peacekeeping, making a positive impact on peacekeeping environments and performance. Women peacekeepers often have greater access to communities, and they help in promoting human rights and the protection of civilians. Women peacekeepers serve as powerful role models for women and girls in post-conflict settings and encourage them to be part of peace processes.

Although the annual UN Secretary-General’s Report on Women, Peace and Security states that the combined number of women in senior leadership positions in the military has increased in the past years, still not as many women move up the ranks in the armed forces compared to their men counterparts, and women in the military face a number of shared challenges and struggles. In addition, more needs to be done to increase the participation of women in UN peacekeeping [1].The responsibility of deployment of women lies with UN Member States.
Ensuring that women play their full, equal and meaningful part in peace processes also requires stronger partnerships between the United Nations, regional organizations, Member States and civil society.

The Panelists – women in military and political leadership positions from Canada, Latvia, Liberia, Maldives and Norway – will share their experiences of choosing a career in the military, challenges to debunk gender-based stereotypes on the battlefield, as well as their advice on transformative changes institutions can make to foster women’s participation. Peace organization “PAX” will share experiences from their work to promote equitable and meaningful inclusion of women in peacebuilding and peacekeeping contexts, providing recommendations on how to improve the agency and empowerment of women at all levels and at every stage of the peace process. The aim of this discussion is to encourage women to go beyond stereotypes and to reach their full potential and participation as decision-makers and leaders in the military. The participants will discuss necessary actions which can be taken to reduce the existing barriers, including by the United Nations and by Member States.


  • Opening remarks by Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations
  • Maldives’ experience: H.E. Uza. Mariya Ahmed Didi, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Maldives
  • Latvia’s experience: Colonel Ilze Žilde, Defence, Attaché to the USA, Assistant Defence, Military, Air and Naval Attaché
  • Canada’s experience: Brigadier General Lise Bourgon, Canadian Forces
  • Liberia’s experience: Brigadier General Geraldine J George, Deputy Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of Liberia
  • Norway’s experience: Flag Commander Solveig Krey, Acting Head of the Operations Division in the Norwegian Armed Forces Defence Staff
  • Observations by peace organization “PAX”: Anna Timmerman, General Director
  • Q&A part as well as closing remarks moderated by H.E. Andrejs Pildegovičs, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the United Nations

The discussion will last for 1h30 minutes and take place virtually on 25 March 2021 at 10:00 AM (NYC time, EDT). Each speaker will intervene for approximately 5-7 minutes, followed by Q&A part and closing remarks. The meeting will be live streamed on Facebook, Twitter, LSM (ENG) and the YouTube account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia (ENG).

Register via the online registration form: Registration deadline: March 24, 2021.

[1] As at May 2020, 5.4 per cent of United Nations military personnel and 15.1 per cent of police personnel were women, compared with 3 and 10 per cent, respectively, in 2015

About this news

Date of publication:

May 17, 2021