Support for Ukraine

Passion for the Mission – The Gender Advisor of the Special Training Command

Passion for the Mission – The Gender Advisor of the Special Training Command

Date:
Place:
Strausberg
Reading time:
4 MIN

Some of the lessons learned from recent operations have shown how big of a factor the integration of gender perspectives is in the planning and execution of military missions. Sabine B. is an expert on gender roles in conflict situations and is the Gender Advisor for EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine. In this interview, she explains her job and what role gender perspectives play in the mission.

the Gender Advisor for the EU Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine

Sabine B., the Gender Advisor for the EU Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine

Bundeswehr / Sebastian Moldt

Ms B., you are the Gender Advisor for the EU Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine (EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine). What exactly is a Gender Advisor?

I study the effects that socially constructed gender roles have on conflict situations at a strategic and operational level. In this context, I provide analytic expertise and advice to the mission leaders. This means that, unlike the gender equality officers, I do not cater to the needs of Bundeswehr personnel but analyse gender roles in the theatre of operations, the effects of conflicts on different population groups and in how far gender aspects need to be considered for further planning. The application of a gender perspective as part of the estimate of the situation not only allows for better force protection, but also contributes to global security.

You have been working as the Gender Advisor for EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission since July 2023. How were you prepared for this task?

I originally come from the section for cross-cultural operational advice, which is also home to the Gender Advisor capability. I therefore have the cultural expertise that is necessary to understand and assess gender roles in different theatres of operation. In June this year, I moreover attended the gender perspective training at the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations in Sweden. Shortly after that, the opportunity opened up for me to put my newly acquired knowledge into practice as the Gender Advisor for EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine.

What are your tasks in EUMAMEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission and which aspects of the Ukraine conflict are of particular interest for your work?

For me as the Gender Advisor of EUMAM UAEuropean Union Military Assistance Mission Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and changes in society that are brought about by the hostilities in Ukraine are at the heart of my analyses. One general phenomenon of the war in Ukraine – and in other conflicts – is a shift of gender roles: Men are drafted into the military and have to fight on the front, while women and children are allowed to leave the country. In this context, however, public perception often neglects the fact that there is actually a large number of women in the Ukrainian Armed Forces – currently about 60,000. The UNUnited Nations Security Council had emphasised the importance of women in peace processes with Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security as early as in 2000. To facilitate an adequate implementation of this resolution, it is of paramount importance to integrate a gender perspective in the planning and execution of military operations. Among my current analysis topics are sexual and gender-based violence in the conflict, war trauma as well as the increase in domestic abuse. All these factors have a destabilising effect on Ukrainian society. There is thus an obvious connection between cross-cultural operational advice and my job as Gender Advisor. Even though my focus is on gender perspectives, cultural aspects must not be ignored when analysing the situation. This is why I also examine the effects of Russian propaganda on Ukrainian society and the marginalisation of minorities at times of resource scarcity.

What goals have you reached so far and what do you want to achieve with your work in the future?

During the past few months, I concentrated on establishing the not so well-known Gender Advisor capability in the Bundeswehr and on raising awareness of gender perspectives among the mission leaders. In that way I get the input I need for my work, which in turn enables me to make a meaningful contribution whenever my expertise is required. I am committed to doing my utmost to help bring this conflict to a close. I deliberately speak of a conflict, not a war, because a conflict always goes beyond the war itself. More precisely, this means we need to counteract the destabilising factors and support Ukraine on its way to becoming a sovereign state with a stable society.

How can these goals be put into practice?

In my role as Gender Advisor, I am unable to take direct measures to influence Ukrainian authorities, for example, because this would be an encroachment upon Ukraine’s sovereignty. I am, however, in close contact with the international Gender Advisor community, where I can share my thoughts from my perspective. What is more is that I can use my knowledge and connections to contribute to involving more women actively in the peace efforts and the rebuilding of society after the war.

by Lea  Bacherle

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