NATO Offers ‘Gender Perspective’ Course

Warns troops of ‘problematic’ approaches to gender

Flags flutter in the wind in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels
Flags flutter in the wind in front of NATO headquarters in Brussels / AP

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization offers "gender perspective" training for member nations that warns troops of "problematic" approaches to gender.

NATO tweeted from its NATO Women account this week to inform the public about its "gender education and training package for nations." The pilot course was created during the organization’s "gender annual discipline conference."

"Gender perspective is a force multiplier and supports the outcome of the operation and enhances mission effect," according to a presentation offered by NATO. "Using a gender perspective in the planning, execution, assessment and reporting of your activities will increase operational effectiveness."

NATO begins the course with an exercise asking the audience what comes to mind when they think about women versus men in war and conflict. The military alliance says it is wrong to see women only as victims, and men as actors.

The presentation covers topics such as "Why is it problematic to focus only on ‘protection’?" and "Why is it problematic to talk about the population as a whole?"

NATO defines sex as biological and constant, while gender is "socially constructed, dynamic, and changing over time."

The organization also offers a "Soldiers Card" for member nations, which explains gender is "learned through socialisation and determines a person’s position and value in a given context."

NATO has a hierarchy of "Gender Personnel" that includes "Gender Advisors," "Gender Field Advisors," as well as "Double Hatted Gender Focal Points."

"The Gender Advisors (GENAD) operate at a strategic and Operational level and are a resource to the Commander, who is responsible for the overall integration of gender perspectives into planning, execution and evaluation," the military alliance said.

Gender Focal Points must "dedicate 10-15 [percent] of their time to the task of integrating gender perspectives within the ordinary task of the unit."

"To have a gender perspective is to have the ability to detect if and when men, women, boys and girls are being affected differently by a situation due to their gender," the Soldiers Card states. "Consider and at all times assume that lives, experiences, security threats, freedom of movements, healthiness, access to health care, resources and influence are not the same for men, women, boys and girls."