Charlotte Isaksson, Gender Advisor to Allied Command Operations
Allied Command Operations Public Affairs recently conducted an interview with Charlotte Isaksson, the Allied Command Operations Special Advisor on gender issues. Charlotte spoke about gender and sexual-based violence in conflict, implications of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, how NATO builds upon UNSCR 1325, and the role that a gender advisor plays at a strategic command like Allied Command Operations.
UNSCR 1325 addresses the challenges in conflicts from a gender perspective. NATO, in the Chicago Summit Declaration, incorporated many aspects of 1325 by acknowledging the challenges of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict; committing NATO to combating such violence and the building of sustainable, long-term peace.
In all of NATO’s major land operations, both Afghanistan and Kosovo; as well as at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Gender Advisors like Charlotte are providing advice to commanders on gender issues. Their advice is taken into consideration, so that plans and operations are designed to ensure that the whole of society transitions out of conflict and into peace.
Gender-based violence impacts populations at the earliest stages of conflict as Charlotte notes, "gender and sexual violence are part of the root causes of conflict and affect both men and women of all ages. The effects from such violence can in erode a society already affected by wider conflict. Such erosion hinders efforts towards ending conflicts.”
In bringing a conflict to resolution and restoring a society, gender issues and sexual based violence must be addressed. Victims of such violence can bare mental and emotional scars long after a conflict has otherwise been resolved, "Conflict related sexual and gender based violence are affecting men, women, girls and boys.” She continues with, "Acts of sexual violence don’t only maim its victims mentally and physically, but they sow the seeds of destruction of an entire community.”
Gender and sexual-based violence pose challenges that endure long after other forms of violence in conflict have ceased, and are among the key aspects that make it difficult to transition societies out of conflict. By addressing such forms of violence as early as possible, NATO is able to directly address challenges inherent in conflict that had previously been ignored.
In many conflicts around the World, sexual based violence is used as a tactic to defeat an enemy. Charlotte noted in a keynote address at a International Seminar on Gender Based Violence, "In our lifetimes millions of women, children and men have endured this horror, including Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Uganda, Liberia[…]”
To defeat these tactics, ACO has begun to implement UNSCR 1325, and include the advice of Gender Advisors like Charlotte.
If you would like to learn more, watch the interview with Charlotte here