More women in the Army are needed. In order to do this, we need to make everything so that they feel welcome, rather than an exception to the rule. As Minister of Defence, I have a special responsibility in that segment. In the Ministry of Defence, we are working on a new manual for reporting harassment. All armies are a predominantly male environment, strictly hierarchically set up, an environment in which discrimination and sexual and other types of harassment at work occur more easily. We are creating a serious system for reporting harassment and discrimination through channels which provide reporting without fear. Those who behave in that way will have to take the consequences. We have zero tolerance for such occurrences that blemish our Army and administration, pushing away our most skilled personnel – said Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska at the panel “Gender Perspectives in Defence” organized by the Ministry of Defence.
At the beginning of the debate, a video message was posted, which was sent by NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller. In her message she underlines that women are a catalyst for peaceful conflict resolution.
“We want NATO to be a global leader in the equal rights and the equal participation of women. I know that you are also committed, and I would like to commend the Deputy Prime Minister Shekerinska and her team for the work that they are doing in this area. Thank you and have a great international women’s day” Gottemoeller stated.
The panel was opened by the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Macedonia, Louisa Vinton, who emphasized that there is progress in Macedonia in promoting women’s rights, gender equality, that a growing number of women in defense forces is evident and added that women in defence are not a burden, but an excellent opportunity that can make a special contribution to defence systems.
A video was also presented with several members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, who talked about their path to a successful career.
Vice-President of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, Frosina Tashevska Remenski expressed her satisfaction that a growing number of women are applying at the Military Academy and that she hopes that in the near future we will have the first female general in the ranks of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. The Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Mila Carovska said that there is work underway for improving the legislation aiming to overcome the problems faced by women, but also men in the Republic of Macedonia, not only in their jobs, but also in each sphere where there are occurrences of discrimination. Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia in charge of European Affairs, Bujar Osmani noted that the progress of one country is reflected in the greater inclusiveness of women. “The greater the non-inclusiveness of women, the greater the potential for violence in the state,” Osmani said. The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Republic of Macedonia, Danijela Barishic, said that she is very pleased to have here in Macedonia with her the first Croatian woman who is a Defense Attaché. At the same time, she added that more needs to be done to implement the Action Plan adopted on the basis of UN Resolution 1235, advancing the position of women in defence and security.
The aim of today’s panel was to raise awareness of the position of the woman in defence, with an emphasis on future concrete steps and policies that will be taken with respect to the challenges of women defence professionals.