Women’s perspectives on security policy debated at OSCE PA conference in Vienna

2017 Muttonen Bures Matvienko Vienna 230317Valentina Matvienko, Christine Muttonen and Doris Bures at the "OSCE Security Policy - Female Perspectives" conference in Vienna, 23 March 2017. Photo: Austrian Parliament / Johannes Zinner VIENNA, 23 March 2017 – Improving the level of engagement of women in discussions on security, including conflict resolution and addressing violent extremism, was in focus today at a day-long conference hosted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna.

The conference, “OSCE Security Policy – Female Perspectives,” featured the participation of parliamentarians, representatives of OSCE field operations, academicians and civil society representatives. Panel discussions explored issues such as the role of women in developing a new pan-European security architecture and prospects for gender mainstreaming in OSCE field work.

The President of the Austrian National Council, Doris Bures, and OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) opened the event, with Speaker Bures offering condolences to the United Kingdom for the attack near the Parliament building on Wednesday and participants observing a minute of silence on behalf of the victims. “Terrorists will not succeed in destroying our democratic values,” Bures said.

In her opening remarks, Bures noted that impacts of conflicts are disproportionately felt by women, and therefore women have a unique and crucial role to play in addressing all aspects of the conflict cycle.

“The majority of refugees are not young men, but women and children,” she said. “It is far more difficult for women and children to flee across the Mediterranean to Europe, because they are subjected to similar dangers as in war zones: violence, including sexual violence.”

Bures argued that a new view on security policy was needed. This view should prioritize the protection of women and children from the hazards of war and violence, and ensure the full integration of women into peace processes in order to achieve lasting peace sooner.

President Muttonen highlighted improvements in increasing the level of women’s overall involvement in public life but pointed out that the discourse about security is still largely dominated by men.

“Despite the progress we have made, including in security policy, we are still a long way from a truly equal and equitable participation of men and women,” she said, noting that she has made addressing this imbalance a strong focus of her presidency of the OSCE PA.

“Involving women in the discussion about our security and future – whether in the OSCE or elsewhere – should not be a mere formality. We need to ensure that women are able to make substantial contributions, not just as a benevolent gesture. The pure fulfillment of quotas must not satisfy us, and I hope that events such as today’s will no longer be an exception, but will become the norm,” Muttonen said.

Austrian Minister of Defence Peter Doskozil delivered a keynote speech in which he argued that real security requires that men and women have equal economic opportunities. He expressed doubts about whether Europe is doing enough to create jobs, establish social security and provide a basis for the equal participation of women in the labour market. Stressing that women must be involved in decision-making processes, Minister Doskozil argued that gender mainstreaming in international organizations is vital to effectively address crises.

Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council of Russia, also spoke at the event, noting that the emergence of a new multipolar world has brought with it new challenges, including international terrorism. She stressed the need for more goodwill, equality, and respect for all countries and peoples of Europe.

Ulrike Lunacek, Vice President of the European Parliament, discussed challenges and perspectives for developing a new pan-European security architecture, noting the important role of women in this regard.

Female leaders from OSCE field operations also participated in the conference, including Nina Suomalainen, Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje; Tuula Yrjölä, Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan; and Aleška Simkić, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. In a panel discussion, they debated the prospects for greater gender balance and other strengths and weaknesses of field operations in the OSCE region.

The final panel focused on the role of women in countering radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism. It featured keynote speeches by Women without Borders/SAVE’s Executive Director Edit Schlaffer and Head of the Extremism Information Center Verena Fabris, as well as professors Petra Weyland from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and Yulia Nikitina from Moscow State University of International Relations.

Panelists noted that in addressing terrorism, women have important roles to play as integral members of civil society and within family structures. They also discussed what members of parliament can do, in particular, to more effectively counter terrorism.

In her closing remarks, President Muttonen thanked participants for offering such valuable food for thought on ways to strengthen female perspectives in security discussions and in the broader political discourse.

Photos from the event are available on the Austrian Parliament's website.

OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen's full remarks (in German) are available here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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