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Oct 15 2020


October 2020 marks the 20th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, aimed at addressing the situation of women in conflict. Despite improvements in the last two decades, violence and conflict is still constant across the world and women continue to be disproportionately impacted. To help alleviate the impact of conflict on women, the Jordan III NATO Trust Fund was set up as a capacity-building project with a three-year Action Plan to integrate servicewomen in the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF). The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) is responsible for the implementation of the NATO Trust Fund, which aims to enhance the role of servicewomen through policy, infrastructure and training initiatives. The Fund is supporting the JAF to attain at least 3% female officer representation and is providing women with wider career opportunities. 

In March 2020, NSPA completed the construction of a new Military Women's Training Centre for the Jordan Armed Forces, together with a kindergarten and a women's clinic, that were delivered in the summer. The new training facility replaces the antiquated infrastructure dating from the 1950s. "This Military Women's Training Centre will have much more capacity to train new female recruits and this is needed to increase the numbers of women in JAF", assured Ella Van den Heuvel, Gender Advisor.

A more diverse army, with women in every branch, at every level and in leadership positions, will be a better army

Ella Van den Heuvel was recruited by NSPA as Gender Advisor for this project to support the JAF in the development of the Action Plan and to develop and conduct Gender courses. "Together with the JAF colleagues of the Directorate of Military Women's Affairs (DMWA), we organised two basic gender focal point courses and one advanced gender focal point course. The aim was to provide a foundational knowledge of Gender, UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace & Security agenda, as well as the Jordanian National Action Plan 1325. The course prepared the participants for their future role as Gender Focal Points, in which they will contribute to integration of gender through their daily work in the Jordan Armed Forces", she explained. 

Jordan Armed Forced servicewomen during training.

Ella, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Dutch Armed Forces, has been working on gender integration in the military for more than 13 years. She led the European project GenderForce within the Dutch Armed Forces. She is also the Director of the Dutch-Spanish Gender in Operations course, which runs four times a year in The Hague, Madrid and Nairobi.

In addition, she has worked as an instructor in several international courses dealing with topics such as Gender, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Protection of Civilians and Cultural Awareness. 

Ella Van den Heuvel with representatives from the Directorate of Military Women Affair (DMWA) and Jordan Armed Forces during the "Women in Uniform and Gender in the Security Sector" Conference, celebrated in February 2020.

"Unfortunately, the level of gender awareness among the troops in most armed forces in the world is not where it should be. Women, all over the world are often still being left out from these processes. We, as troops, tend to think that it is too hard to get in contact with the women or that they are not allowed to speak with us. However, everywhere in the world you can find strong women who want to be heard. Women and Men's voices are equally important. An important part of our job as gender advisors is making the troops and the leaders aware that we also need to listen to the women and enable them to seat at the tables where decision are made. Also It is obvious that in most of the mission areas, due to religious and cultural aspects, only our female soldiers can speak with the local women. So there are further benefits in working in diverse teams as much as possible" she exposed.

Gender advisors play a key role in helping to achieve gender-responsiveness. This was the case in the Jordan III NATO Trust Fund context. The training and ad-hoc facilities delivered by NSPA are scheduled to become operational in November 2020.This represents an opportunity to further expand capacity building and training to achieve women's empowerment in the JAF. In addition, the inclusion of a kindergarten, unforeseen at the beginning of the project but later requested by the servicewomen themselves, will help easing one the major obstacles faced by working women in particular, as childcare services will be available at the workplace. Jordan III Trust Fund project is a 4.37 MEUR project, executed by NSPA under the leadership of Norway and the Czech Republic, with the contribution from other 12 international donors, including NATO members and partners. 

Story by NATO Support and Procurement Agency

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