Dear friends of the WPS CHOD Network,


On the 8 March, we celebrate the International Women’s Day, which is worth our special attention. The United Nations theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.´ According to the UN, despite the overwhelming evidence for the need to invest in measures to enhance gender equality, an alarming $360 billion in annual funding is lacking for necessary measures leading up to 2030. Sadly, the defence sector is not without blame in this daunting picture.


As members of this network, we have both an opportunity and responsibility in our role as Chiefs of Defence to change this. While progress has been made in many areas of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, it should not be taken for granted. The Secretary General’s latest report indicates worrying negative trends regarding women’s participation in essential peace and political processes. Despite the many benefits of having diverse police and military contingents, female participation in national as well as multilateral operations remains low. This fact can only change if we start at home and within our own forces.


CHODs and leaders of our respective organisations bear the ultimate responsibility for leading by example and ensuring that we move from words to actions. I am therefore urging all of us to do what we can to push the Women, Peace and Security agenda forward, and as such contribute to the enhancement of gender equality, women’s rights as well as overall effectiveness. This cannot end with promises and high-level commitments, but needs to be followed up by actual measures and investments.


We need to put effort into ensuring our organizations are welcoming workplaces where colleagues can flourish in their career development regardless of gender. We also need to provide equipment that is fit for purpose for both men and women. And we need to invest in training and education that effectively integrates gender perspectives in our organisations and operations. This might come with some initial costs, but studies show that these investments pay off by making our organisations more efficient, enlarges the candidate pool during recruitment, enable us to retain talents within our organisations, and ensuring that our staff are equipped to carry out their tasks – just to name a few benefits. It is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do!


As such, I was encouraged by the many pledges related to advancing to the Women, Peace and Security agenda made during the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Ghana last year. If we jointly ensure that we keep the momentum, follow through on our promises, and keep on working to do everything in our capacity, we can be a small part of a much-needed change.


On the International Women´s Day – these are a few thoughts that I think are worth reflecting upon.


Best regards,


Andrew Tihonov Designer

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