European Union External Action

Promoting Women’s Meaningful Participation – Challenges from the field in the Central African Republic.

28/06/2021 - 10:28
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The European Union (EU) stands out for its longstanding commitment to gender equality. Its commitment is not limited to internal relations but extends to external relations. In their efforts to mainstream women, peace and security objectives, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations are informed by the three Ps (Protection, Prevention and Participation), and the humanitarian aspects set out in the UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions.

The EUTM RCA has been committed to mainstream women, peace and security objectives and has been working on the protection, prevention and participation, and integration of the gender perspective.

For that, the EUTM RCA has developed, following the European Union Gender Action Plan III, their own Gender Action Plan for the internal and external activities to be implemented by all EUTM supported by the Gender Structure implemented in HQ Staff and Pillars. For achieving that, cyclic training to the Gender Focal Points has supported the preparation of Gender-related activities and the integration of a gender perspective.

The EUTM RCA relies on the contributing nations responsible for appointing the personnel for the mission. The participation of women in the mission is highlighted and reported in the EUTM reporting system.

Over the last year, the participation of women has varied between 5% and 8%, which is far from desirable and have an impact on the objectives of the European Union Gender Action Plan III, leading by example. The Central African Republic has integrated around 9% of women, significantly more than we have.

Nevertheless, women occupy relevant positions within the force, in the Staff and leading teams, having a great result in their performance being an example for others.

It is understandable the concern with the cultural, social, and psychological obstacles that have hindered women’s participation at all levels in our forces. 

The EUTM RCA social media posts is an example on the promotion of women’s participation and have shown diversity, throughout women and men from different nations performing the daily activities, under their responsibilities, exposing that for the willing women that our mission is for all.

Moreover, publishing articles on the work done regarding women peace and security, on diverse subjects, specifically training activities accomplished, the commemoration of international days, and reports on all activities. Similarly, the EUTM RCA have promoted women's participation in core training activities like sexual violence prevention training showing the engagement of our soldiers in the joint effort to end this tremendous problem that ravages and assault society in different ways around the globe.

In addition, the participation of women was debated in every induction training and throughout the deep dives conducted and the Gender Focal Point training sessions.

EUTM has continued on the development models in education, Human Rights, Integration of Gender Perspective, Sexual Violence prevention for Central African Armed Forces units in the education area. Throughout gender-focused training, in all courses, the CAR Armed Forces militaries have been aware of the importance of an efficient and reliable armed forces, which inevitably contributes to enabling the participation of women in the Central African Republic Armed Forces.

To attain the internal and external audiences, the EUTM RCA has participated and has organised public events promoting equality, women's empowerment and women's participation in collaboration with the European Union Delegation, Central African Republic Authorities and European Union Assistance Missions.  Examples of International Human Rights Day and International Women's Day promote the critical significance of Gender equality and women's empowerment, which inexorably contributes to women's meaningful participation.

Throughout meetings with the Defense and Women's Promotion Ministers had held to meet common goals to pursue the development of integrated actions. Contacts with other organisations were maintained, including International Organizations, Agencies, and non-governmental organisations, to share information and collaborate in projects to increase female participation.

Several avenues have to be considered to promote women's participation. To know: as the most important ones are the sexual, religious, cultural, social, educational avenues in a work that definitely would take its time changing the gender norms.

The institutional culture of our institutions must take into account the need of continuing the work and integrate these different diversities to encourage more female vocations.

The key to implementing concrete measures lies with the leaders ensuring that gender topics are integrated at all levels.

Furthermore, mixed teams have proved to be the best way to achieve efficiency, closer to the target audience, the population, and our training mission. To accomplish that goal, we all need more women in our force.

Targeted recruitment efforts are an essential step in ensuring that interested and capable women will have an opportunity to engage in all roles as their military career choice.

We all can conclude that we have a long way ahead in pursuing full participation free of obstacles, having diversity, the willingness of all, and the more capable of answering our institutions' musts. Having more women participation will augment efficiency and advance the contact with the people our institutions serve as closer and stronger together in a broader sense.

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