Istanbul, June 14 () - Ways to enhance women’s participation in the armed forces were a key area of focus at this year’s Annual Discussion on the Implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, held today in Vienna.
According to a statement made by OSCE, representatives of the OSCE participating States shared their experiences on implementing the Code, a unique and fundamental document which aims to regulate the role of armed forces in democratic societies.
Opening the meeting, Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the OSCE and Chairperson of the Forum for Security Co-operation, reminded representatives of the participating States that the Code is one of the OSCE’s most important normative documents and occupies a fundamental place among the body of commitments developed within the politico-military dimension of security.
The meeting’s first working session centred on a presentation of a new baseline study on women in the armed forces in the OSCE region commissioned by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
“Servicewomen are still a small minority in the armed forces across the OSCE region. On average, they make up 9.7 per cent of all service personnel,” said Susan Atkins, author of the report. “Whilst no legal barriers to women's full participation across the armed forces exist in over three-quarters of participating States, there are still a number of practical barriers in many states, including a lack of appropriate facilities and equipment, low maximum recruitment targets, male-focused working environments and abuse, from which women suffer disproportionately” she said.
She added that three-quarters of OSCE participating States have introduced new laws or policies in the last ten years, and there is a wealth of good practice across the OSCE region.
Omer Fisher, Head of the Human Rights Department at ODIHR, said that this OSCE institution has a track record of assisting OSCE participating States in upholding the rights of female and male security sector personnel. He recalled that ODIHR’s mandate in this area of work is based particularly on Article 32 of the Code, which states that each participating State will ensure that military and security forces personnel are able to enjoy and exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.