03 Nov 2021


The speech of the Polish Captain Rzadkowska, IRINI’s Gender Advisor

Women in Peace Conference: The 31 October marks the 21st year since the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution number 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”.
 Resolution 1325 stood out because of its recognition of the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women. The document stressed the need for the full participation of women as active peace and security actors.
Women are underrepresented in peacekeeping missions. As of January 2021, women make up less than 5% of military personnel, 11% of UN police contingent personnel and 28% of police officers in peacekeeping missions. Nevertheless, even a small proportion of women in missions increases the involvement of local communities and changes the image of women in society.
Women in all their diversity are included in the collective security, explained Leslie Scanlon, Ambassador of Canada to Poland, stressing that her country has been for long time committed to gender equality, empowering women, protecting their rights and combating sexual violence:  “Violent conflicts affect women and girls, men and boys in different ways. We believe this should be recognized”.

 Unlike in the 1990s, women no longer perform only support roles for male soldiers. They are in all branches of command on missions, in logistics, in operational cells and no one pays attention to gender when it comes to select soldiers for peacekeeping missions, “But we realise that we are much more effective if there are women and men among the peacekeepers”, said Lt. Col. Tim O’Brien (Executive Officer of the Directorate of Operations & Plans, Headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces).
 “When I served on a mission in Kosovo as an officer of the Liaison and Monitoring Team, we organized meetings with mayors, police or fire fighters representatives, teachers and students from schools in our area of operation. We were also responsible for organizing and distributing humanitarian aid to the local communities. The most important and valuable was personal contact with people and thanks to it we could get to know their problems and needs” said Captain Katarzyna Rzadkowska (Gender Advisor EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, Public Affairs Officer, Military Training Centre for Foreign Operations Poland), pointing out how important it was to know the needs of women living in the local community. “Gender equality is at the highest level is Sweden”, according to Capt. Rzadkowska, who was the first Polish officer graduated from the gender advisor course in Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM).  “I believe that it does not matter whether there is a woman or a man in this position. Many times this position was previously held by men. The important thing is to do your job well”.
The conference on women in peacekeeping missions was organised by the Embassy of Ireland, the Embassy of Canada, the Military University of Technology and the Women’s Affairs Council of the polish Ministry of Defence. Discussion was focused on the changes of the reality of women on peacekeeping missions during the last 20 years (recognition, access, support, and protection of women, role and challenges).