Navy's Deputy Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Lieutenant Commander Jennifer Macklin, has represented the Australian Defence Force at a landmark course for female military officers.
Held in March, the intensive two-week Special Female Military Officers' Course, was developed by United Nations Women (India) in partnership with Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping was piloted in New Delhi, India, and is expected to become a standard for national peacekeeping training centres.
Women’s participation in the security sector has been recognised as a critical component of mission success, both in the frameworks on peacekeeping and women, peace and security, as well as by commanders on the ground.
This pilot course involved 40 female military officers from around the world and Lieutenant Commander Macklin said it was vital to provide feedback so the course could be a success in further iterations.
"It was a privilege to be involved in the pilot and to have a say in the future development of the course," she said.
"The focus on increasing the number of women on peacekeepoing operations is an extension of the gender mainstreaming work that we have been doing in the Australian Defence Force.
"The more women we have in the military, the more women are available to deploy on missions," she said.
Few women are routinely deployed in peacekeeping missions and military operations across the globe. On average, only 3 per cent of military personnel in United Nations missions are women, and these are often employed as support staff, rather than in protection tasks.
Even for specialised positions, such as Military Experts, this figure does not increase dramatically.
Officers will be trained in in tasks such as community outreach and interaction with survivors of sexual and gender based violence in post-armed conflict United Nations mission areas. The timing is significant noting increasing reports of conflict-related sexual violence and the lack of uniformed women specialised in reaching out to survivors.
Since returning to Australia Lieutenant Commander Macklin has been working on how the Australian Defence Force can integrate the concepts into pre-deployment and United Nations Military Observer training.
"This training is not only relevant to female military officers - all military personnel need to understand the disproportionate impact of conflict related sexual violence on women, men and children and be able to apply a gender perspective to operational and non-operational settings."
United Nations Women is working with participating countries to enable more trained female officers to be cleared by their governments for deployment to United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. Close coordination with UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Force Generation Service and the Office of the Military Affairs is underway to accelerate these efforts.