DSC_1064Rosa Balas Torres, Chief Executive of Foreign Action and President of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation’s Executive Committee, opened the second day of ‘Prospects, strategies and challenges of the European Union: conflict and safety threats in a global context’, with a focus on security and peace operations from a gender perspective.

In her speech, the Chief Executive said “a world with gender parity would be a fairer world”, calling for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ to be implemented in “diplomacy, security, defence, and exterior action at all levels”. She outlined how the Regional Government of Extremadura had achieved gender parity in its Governing Council, middle management, and of all its appointed bodies, recalling the commitment of Regional Government President Guillermo Fernández Vara, who said “those who still haven’t achieved parity by the 1st June will cease to function”.

Balas Torres went on to talk about one of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation’s objectives being “to contribute to the building of a better Europe” through courses offered on the Campus Yuste programme and the Carlos V European Award: a prize awarded for outstanding leadership, or to institutions for their commitment to the European Union process or contribution to European cultural, scientific, or historical values.

Also speaking on the course, President of the Association of Spanish Diplomats in Security and Defence (ADESyD) and Director of Spanish Women in International Security Marian Caracuel Raya described the number of women participating in peacekeeping missions for peace mediation, conflict resolution, and displacement of people as “unsatisfactory”, in spite of the existence of Resolution 1325. She sees this as the result of a lack of commitment to policy, at both a national and international level, citing Spain’s National Plan of Action on Resolution 1325 as an example of best practice.

“60% of European graduates are women, but only 3% occupy leadership positions”, said Jesús Ignacio Gil Ruíz, Lieutenant Colonel and ex-Head of the International Military Staff Office of the Gender Advisor at NATO Headquarters. He added, “in 2016 the number of women acting as agents of change: witnesses, signatories or peace mediators, is still very low”, saying a determined effort must be made to ensure women take these roles because “if the entire population was represented in negotiations, peace treaties would be more effective”.

Gil Ruíz said how NATO wants there to be “an increase in gender equality”, going on to describe two alternative viewpoints. On the one hand is the Australian vision which he agrees with: the view that the armed forces should “reflect society”. On the other, the Swedish perspective: that women need to be present to ensure “operational effectiveness”.

Finally, the Lieutenant Colonel warned that men play a fundamental role in the swift incorporation of women in peace processes because “we have a responsibility and we’re not doing anything about it: we need to acknowledge this in order to find a short-term solution”.

The course – a collaboration with the Extremaduran Centre for Study and Cooperation with Ibero-America (CEXECI) – will tomorrow focus on the refugee crisis and European policy for change. Students from the following universities are taking part: Granada, Jaén, Salamanca, Valladolid, Zaragoza, Comillas Pontifical, Alalá de Henares, Valencia, Madrid Autonomous, Cantabria, La Rioja, Deusto, Extremadura, Pablo de Olavide, Barcelona Autonomous, Sevilla,  Madrid Complutense, Rey Juan Carlos, Carlos III and UNED.