GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Exploring gender issues in the security sector took center stage during an event conducted by the Department of Defense’s George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Oct. 3 in the Republic of Macedonia.
About 70 people attended the outreach networking event at the Army House in Skopje. Organized by the Macedonian Alumni Association and facilitated by the Marshall Center, the event was part of a continuing program to raise security issues in their respective countries. The event also encouraged the security community network to grow and flourish while providing continuing education to Marshall Center alumni.
Marshall Center Professor Dr. Petra Weyland served as keynote speaker for the event, emphasizing the “special importance of gender issues in post-conflict societies like the Balkans.” She also said that “noncombatants, often women, are the first to be affected by combat.”
Marshall Center Chief of Alumni Relations Dean Dwigans said the results were on track with expectations. “The event provided a forum for the exchange of regional practices and lessons learned. Discussions highlighted the unique challenges of post-conflict, transitional societies in gender reform, and the roundtable noted the good work already accomplished in the region and in Macedonia itself while emphasizing the need for further action.”
Following Weyland’s keynote, a panel of local and regional speakers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia addressed the group. The regional speakers were alumni who contributed to a book published by the Strategic Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of Serbia, “Women in the Security Sector: A Regional Perspective.”
The Marshall Center and its alumni programs office facilitates about 30 outreach networking events each year within its region. This, Dwigans said, supported DOD policy stakeholder guidance to “create collaborative military and civilian networks which enhance regional security and examine fundamental causes of security challenges and the most effective means to counter them” as well as to “promote critical thinking on global security challenges."
“We wanted this conference to provide the Marshall Center alumni association an opportunity to educate the security sector in Macedonia on this topic and exchange information on regional perspectives as well as local practices,” Dwigans said. “This event was almost entirely organized and executed by the alumni association and was a noteworthy success because of the expanding capacity and activity of this association.”
Dwigans said the Macedonian Alumni Association chose the event’s topic in light of the United Nations declaration 1325 on gender equality, first formulated in 2000, and highlighted at the Chicago Summit in 2012.
Speakers included a Dwigans, Weyland; Dr. Mehmadin Tahirovic, Montenegro Ministry of Defense and president, Montenegrin Alumni Association; Col. Mersida Mesetovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina MOD and vice president, Bosnia and Herzegovina Alumni Association; Milan Miluntinovic, Serbian MOD; Dr. Frosina Tashevska-Remenski, policy academy, Skopje; and Lt. Col. Mery Rinjova, Macedonian MOD.