Podcast 1 - UNSCR 1325: Women, Peace and Security


Welcome to the first podcast series hosted by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 or UNSCRR-1325. The Security Council originally adopted this resolution on Women, Peace and Security on the 31st of October in 2000. Twenty years later, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces is still upholding the values that this resolution initially laid out for all of its members. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction. It also stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

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Hannah Rosen: Welcome to the first podcast series hosted by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 or UNSCRR-1325. The Security Council originally adopted this resolution on Women, Peace and Security on the 31st of October in 2000. Twenty years later, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces is still upholding the values that this resolution initially laid out for all of its members. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction. It also stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

UNSCRR 1325 affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict and in the peace-building process. Today we'll have three Champions from the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) speaking to us about how UNSCRR 1325 really is fitting into how the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operates today. Speaking with us today, we have Major-General Craig Aitchison and Chief Warrant Officer Crystal Harris, who are the co-champions for gender and diversity for operations for the Canadian Armed Forces. We also have Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon, who is the Champion for Women Peace and Security.

This podcast will interchangeably use French and English, there will also be a transcript provided for those who do not understand French or English and would like to read along instead of listening. There also be acronyms used throughout this podcast such as GBA+, WPS, UNSCRR 1325, DND, CAF, etc. For these meetings, they will also be expanded in the transcript, but for now, GBA+ means Gender-Based Analysis +, WPS means Women Peace and Security, UNSCRR is the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, DND is the Department of National Defence, and CAF is the Canadian Armed Forces. Please note that due to COVID-19, audio quality between hosts and participants may differ.

Hello, my name is Hanna Rosen, I am an Analyst with the Directorate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of National Defence. And I am here with my colleague, Nadia;

Nadia Blanchard: Hi everyone, Nadia Blanchard, I was originally working with Josée Robidoux as the Coordinating Officer within DIGP, SJS – Directorate of Integrity and Gender Integration for the Department of National Defence.

Hannah: Amazing, thank you. So now I'll turn it over to our speakers today, we are lucky enough to have three of the Champions here at National Defence speaking with us about the women peace and security agenda and UNSCRR 1325 as we're coming up on the anniversary. So if I could, I will start with General Lise Bourgon, if you do not mind introducing yourself...

Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon: Yes, hello, my name is Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon. I’m the Women, Peace and Security Champion for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Hannah: Thank you so much. And then I will move over to Major-General Aitchison.

Major-General Craig Aitchison: Hi my name's Major-General Craig Aitchison, I'm the Commander of the Canadian Defence Academy, and the Champion for Gender and Diversity for Operations for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Hannah: Amazing. And then finally, Chief Warrant Officer Crystal Harris.

Chief Warrant Officer Crystal Harris: Hi, I'm Chief Warrant Officer Crystal Harris. I am the Strategic Joint Staff Chief Warrant Officer and the Defence Co-Champion for Gender and Diversity in Operations.

Hannah: Amazing, thank you so much. And so, as we know, we're meeting here today virtually to talk about UNSCRR 1325, the Women Peace and Security agenda, and in general, kind of gender equality here at National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. So I'm going to start us off with our first question, and this is going to be sort of a fire-side chat, so for those listening, it's going to be something that hopefully you can follow along with, we're not going to use too much jargon, so we'll try to avoid that so you can definitely understand what we're talking about.

So I'll start off with our First Question. What does USCR 1325 mean to you as a senior leader within National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, and does personal commitment to the resolution matter as much as organizational commitment?

MGen Aitchison: So I think both professionally and personally, that the UNSCR 1325 which underpins the values that the Canadian Armed Forces seek to achieve is incredibly important, and partly because they CAF as an instrument of national power, and how the government extends those interests internationally, domestically needs to reflect the broader national values. And I think UNSCR 1325 and Canadian values in 2020 align very closely, and we see it in this present government, you see it in the way that the Canadian Armed Forces approach operations, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to talk about that as we go through this podcast process.

BGen Bourgon: For me, Resolution 1325 is really formal recognition, and it legitimizes the process. I'm a big fan and as a woman in the military, I've always believed in 1325 even before it came into existence. But this formal recognition of 1325 that ensued, of course, for Canada, our first national Action Plan in 2010, and the GBA+ analysis tool that came following that, and also as CDS directive for the integration of 1325, where we saw really the perspective of the integration of gender in operation. So it was just a way of documenting and giving us legitimacy and the process. And I think really in the last 20 years, although at the beginning, I think that we integrated this perspective because we had to... 'cause the government with the National Action Plan told us to do it, but now we recognize the strength of 1325 and the perspective of gender in operations, and as I say, we drank the Kool-Aid... There's a value into gender perspectives and the success in operation, so that's what it means for me.

Hannah: Yeah I completely agree, and I love the phrase of “drinking the Kool-Aid”, 'cause honestly, I think it's one of the strengths of our government and the CAF and DND in general, is just the commitment to being openly committed to gender equality, to including women in the peace process. And I think it's just so great that we have these formal policies and programs in place to ensure this, and then on top of that, we're also just committed on a level where we're talking to like-minded nations and ensuring we have that open communication between countries and we're also open to learning. I think there's a huge learning capacity that we still need to do in every organization, and things are changing so quickly in today's society and the way that we even perceive gender equality, and I think that it's really great that our National Defence and CAF are really committed to such broad goals, but also so pertinent to the time.

CWO Harris: For me, Hannah, I genuinely think that from the NCM perspective, as leaders, we need to be responsible and authentically advocate for what we believe in as a nation and as a military force. And as General Bourgon mentioned this UNSCR 1325 kind of solidified everything for us and gave us a pathway. And you know essentially, we actually need to believe in what we do, so from an organizational commitment, obviously we've made that commitment, but from a personal perspective, we need to believe in what we're doing, and if we represent all of the ethics and morals and principles and values, and that list of things that the military represents, then we genuinely need to believe in that as we progress and wherever we're serving in the world.

MGen Aitchison: I think that it goes back to governmental interest, and I don't think that the CAF is motivated strictly by governmental interests, I think that the CAF understands the power of diversity and so embrace what 1325 represents. I think that our capstone professional ethos doctrine, Duty with Honour, which is in the process of being rewritten, already reflects that to an extent but the rewrite that we’ll produce over the next year or so, will absolutely reflect the values that again resonate within the UNSCR specifically. But the value of diversity and what that brings to any organization, I think is clearly understood by the CAF. I don't know that the rank and file necessarily understand the value in diversity, but certainly the leadership does, and understand that as we look at how we would take the idea behind 1325 and actually implement in everything we do and GBA+ is an absolute first step, the establishment of Gender Advisors and Focal Points is our first steps. But how we truly integrate the understanding of what 1325 represents through training and education, through inculcation is really what remains as the challenge and Duty with Honour is the first step in that respect, and how we then integrate that into education and training. As the Commander CDA it’s something that's fascinating to me because that's one of the ways in which we change culture and for people to understand again, what you and UNSCR 1325 represent and how it is that the CAF move those ideas forward.

Hannah: I completely agree, and I was about to say, which actually ties perfectly into what you said, I think with living the beliefs of UNSCR 1325 and really understanding the importance of it, it really highlights the commitment that our leadership has. And that whole effect of the leading down and almost a trickle-down effect into our lower ranks and forces is the definite element that our leadership is really embodying what it means to embrace diversity, to respect diversity, and to really ensure that diversity is represented at every level of policies, programs and operations. And I think that you're so correct in that Defence really does a brilliant job at pushing that forward. I will move on to our next question. And my colleague, Nadia is actually going to take it away in French.

Nadia: For the second question, I will ask in French, but feel free to answer in the language of your choice. With the increase in conflicts and humanitarian emergencies caused by climate change and lack of natural resources, women and girls are disproportionately affected. What are you doing as a senior officer in the Department of National Defence to protect women and girls, and how should we prepare for the future in this context? 

MGen Aitchison: I’ll start and then hand over to my colleagues. I think that competition for natural resources has always been the basis for conflict as those natural resource deposits become more and more in demand and more and more limited, conflict will follow. Add to that the realities of climate change, the impact that has on availability and accessibility to those resources and it becomes even more severe. Add to that you ever-growing population, and on and on, you get the point. So as we see increases in natural and manmade disasters and the impact that has on human populations, the first order effect is competition for survival, and when governments fail to be able to provide some form of order, the competition becomes unregulated, and when those controls are removed, power shifts to the dominant group. Which in most societies are led by the patriarchal hierarchy, the colloquial alpha male. And these hierarchies and societies often enable men and boys to gain greater access to education, employment, lifesaving skills and other resources. And the lower provision of status and power to women and girls and societies then multiplies their risk in times of crisis and unrest. And due to the impact of unequal gender roles and norms and society, therefore women and girls are often pushed into situations of extreme vulnerability. We need to understand the power dynamics in play. And the second and third order effects, such as the disproportionate impact on women and girls is important for the Defence team as we both plan and execute operations in these environments. Preparing Defence team members for this falls in part to the training and education they receive, and one such example is the training that the CAF is conducted in GBA+. The Defence team uses all the appropriate tools available to run analyses and determine how to conduct peacekeeping missions and respond to humanitarian disasters. GBA+ is one way to ensure that the needs of the world's most vulnerable groups are identified and targeted in planning and conducting operations. In order to be at our best, we must understand the root causes of connected vulnerabilities such as gender and racial inequalities, and then work to address them. We've proven that the application of a GBA plus may have been very successful in mitigating the effect of climate disaster in our own backyard.

Nadia: Super, merci. I totally agree with the vulnerable groups we’re already seeing that with the migration movements related to climate change. Does anyone else have anything to add?

MGen Bourgon: Yes, I do. Since 2016, the direct result of the Chief of Defense Staff directive for the integration of UNSCR 1325, we have been successfully applying GBA+ to all planning policies and operations. We have also developed and implemented the gender perspective and operations, where in each phase, so the preparation, the planning and the execution. We look at the environment to better understand the human security situation in doing so we are able to assess the different risk across the population, and we're in a better position to target emergency response to these group with the highest urgency, those that are most vulnerable. The increased effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces during Operation LENTUS since 2016 illustrates the advantages of analyzing and managing crises by applying a gender perspective. For example, by applying a GBA+ analysis to the 2017 floods in Gatineau, Quebec, members of the Canadian Armed Forces were able to identify and provide vital assistance to groups disproportionately affected due to intersecting factors such as age, gender, income and education. So the performance of the Canadian Armed Forces in support of the population was improved.

Another key aspect that we have to start thinking about is prevention. One of the key pillars of the women peace security is the prevention of violence and conflict, and applying a gender perspective in advance, working towards gender equality and using our roles toward the environment of women are some ways to mitigate the extreme impact of future crisis for women and girls. We need to get better at levelling the playing field and to lessen the risk and the wrong abilities and conflict, peace operations and humanitarian disaster. I also believe that the Canadian Armed Forces have to work closely with civil society and non-government organizations. One of the most valuable effects of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was the resurgence of civil society and the development of new non-government organizations that invest specifically in supporting women, girls and boys. The Canadian Armed Forces have to continue working closely with these new organizations to better understand the situation on the ground, and to be better able to help vulnerable people. 

Nadia: I totally agree, and it’s reasonable to think that these types of operations will be more frequent with climate change – the effects of climate change that we’ll see in the future. Thank you.   

Hannah: Perfect, thank you so much. So our third question is a bit more talking about first-hand experience that the three of you might have experienced when you were on operation. So the question is, please share with me an experience where you saw first-hand how having more women included in the peacemaking or decision-making processes, improve the operation or a policy or program?

BGen Bourgon: I think that it's more than having women around the table, this is about the requirement for diversity and inclusion of everyone, women and men, and binary, non-binary people, different minority, diverse cultures, languages and religions. I think in the end, it's about getting as many different perspectives as we can with different people around the table, each of our background and our experience make us see the world slightly differently. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, hey, I’ve never thought about it that way, or I’ve never seen it from that perspective, I think I’d be rich. This brings different perspectives to the table, which allows for a much more complete understanding of the situation. Together, we’re stronger, more agile and more complete, which means we have much more concrete, well-considered and inclusive solutions that have a better chance of success. So it's all about doing things better, putting every chance of success on our side.

Hannah: I think that's a really great way to phrase it, and especially I was actually in a webinar last week with NATO, and they actually said a great point. Someone asked, what is the value that women bring to operations and the individual responded, yes, you can ask that question, but as long as you're also asking what's the value that men bring to operations, because it's not just what you're bringing to the table, but also just what are the differences that we bring, but also what are the similarities and why is there this dichotomy between men, women and non-binary folks, or bringing different things to the table instead of complementing things that, like you said, bringing our best in ensuring the best opportunities for everyone.

MGen Aitchison: I find it interesting that they ask that as a follow-up question, or asked for that to be a follow-up question because the topic as we look at WPS, and the role that they fulfill ought not to be contrasted against the opposite. Is it any different than the contemporary conversation on racism, if we're going to talk about any particular segment of society and the value that they bring, do we have to provide the counter-argument that white males bringing equal value as white women or women of different ethnic... I just find that surprising in 2020 that we're actually going that direction. I think that, and going back to my comment earlier, diversity brings strength, and I've seen in operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq where women on the ground conducting tactical operations have been more successful than a male counterpart would have been because of what they bring to that particular operation. And it's the ability to connect in with demographics that men may not have been able to. I think of Afghanistan in particular, where because of the Islamic fabric that overlays a good chunk of Afghanistan that male soldiers trying to access sources of intelligence do not have ready access to women because of the cultural realities that we face there. And so women bring force multiplication effect to the tactical fight, as much as they do to the planning and strategizing at the operational and strategic level. When I was in Iraq, the combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve had a Gender Advisor, an Australian lieutenant-colonel who forced planners to think and look at their plans through a different lens, which speaks directly to BGen Bourgon’s point, the strength of “wow I didn't see it that way, or I never thought about it that way”. When forced to consider their planning effort or the problem, they are trying to solve through a different lens becomes a powerful tool, that if you had a whole bunch of like-minded people from the same demographic around the table, you would never have gotten to, unless you were forced to. And while there's lots of problem-solving processes that actually pull you into those spaces, I don't think that they're used readily in military planning. And so having a diverse perspective in operational plans groups at the table when we're looking at decisions that have an impact in an area of operations, and then finally, all the way down to the tactical execution of those plans, having gender diversity, having diversity of all types, but gender diversity in particular is incredibly important. And I think the CAF and the broader Defence Team understands that, and I think that there's done all sorts of positive indications as to how and how we go about that, and I think it's driven by an internal understanding that this is important for our own organization as a profession, not as a result of external pressures.

Hannah: Yeah, that completely makes sense. I just have one follow-up question. Particularly, I'd like to kind of paint a picture of the change that DND/CAF has gone through over, let's say the past 20 years. Have you noticed a difference since when you first joined the Armed Forces to now in respect to how operations are conducted in terms of inclusion of women or diversity and inclusion.

CWO Harris: Hannah, I think that without a doubt that the CAF has evolved in the last 20 years, that goes without saying. From the way that we conduct operations, I think that we still remain operationally focused and that is the main goal because we can participate and we are involved in every occupation our role exists, whether we're at home or deployed. So I think that from that respect, we really... the focus is on mission success.

BGen Bourgon: And you know, from my perspective, well, the bigger pool of women that we have available, trained, qualified to deploy, the more we are going to be able to deploy women on operations. So at this point, we're about 16% women in the forces, and on any given day, there's about... Between 10 and 13% women that are actually deployed on operations, so we can do better. We can do better, because I truly believe that there are still barriers out there, but in the next few months, we're going to be going through an analysis, like a barrier analysis. In the coming months, through the Elsie Initiative, the Canadian Armed Forces will conduct a survey of universal and context-specific barriers to women’s full integration in the Canadian Armed Forces and their access to deployment opportunities in UN operations. We will conduct online surveys and interviews to collect data on the representation and availability of women and men. The survey will also include a series of questions reflecting the 10 major obstacles identified. We’re including about 1800 members of the Canadian Armed Forces in the sample, and the final report is expected in September 2021. Even if women’s integration in the Canadian Armed Forces is going very well, there is always room for improvement. This barrier analysis will give us a good indication of the changes that need to be made to really increase the number of women in the Canadian Armed Forces and those deployed on operations.

MGen Aitchison: And with that said, and agree fully, that there's a lot more we can do. When we’re looking at the policies of the Canadian Armed Forces, and specifically when we’re talking about our allies, the Canadian Armed Forces are seen as a leader in integrating gender perspectives at the military level. In fact, in the Canadian Forces, the last trade to be made available and accessible to women was submariner, which was opened up in 2001. And today, notwithstanding the statistical comment that BGen Bourgon raised, women participate fully and meaningfully in all aspects of domestic and international missions. The CAF has developed and implemented policies of equal opportunity for years and is making a considerable effort to attract greater numbers of qualified women and to identify and address potential barriers to members of Defence. And there are many clear examples of where women leading within the CAF are setting the bar for other nations to attempt to follow, and I think MGen Carignan leading the NATO training mission in Iraq is a great example. Lise Bourgon, sitting to my left, led the CAF mission in the Middle East. Commodore Josée Kurtz was one of the first to command a Canadian Warship, and then last year was the first to command a standing NATO Maritime Task Group. More recently, Lieutenant Colonel Geneviève Bertrand took command of a 5th Brigade light infantry battalion and it has to be emphasized that these accomplishments are based on merit, not tokenism. But the list is long, and the accomplishments of these leaders could not have been realized without leaders of the past setting the conditions for them to follow. And I'll ask for CWO Harris to chime in here in a moment with some other examples, but there's no question that challenges remain to fully realize gender equality, the Canadian forces undertakes daily efforts to address those. As an example, as I mentioned, we're working to update Duty with Honour to be more inclusive and reflect the values of today, and then the CAF diversity strategies made important additions to the code of conduct to improve their inclusion and experiences of diverse personnel. These updates aim to ensure that the doctrine and policy continuously uphold the dignity and value of all persons, and if they advance women's representations and enable their inclusion as equal partners in all roles at all levels,

Nadia: BGen Bourgon, I have a question for you. You talked about a survey, an inquiry that will be conducted for deployments and for missions. I’d like to know if that’s something that will also be conducted for public recruitment. Are we doing that right now, or will we see that in the future?

BGen Bourgon: We are currently using surveys in recruitment to attract greater diversity to the Canadian Armed Forces, in terms of visible minorities and women. Every year, we ask how we can improve our recruitment process, how we can attract groups other than men – I’ll say it, white men – and improve our diversity. The same goes for retention. It’s one thing to have women and visible minorities in the Canadian Armed Forces, but we also need to keep them. We need to understand why these groups or individuals leave the Canadian Armed Forces and try to give them better quality of life to keep them with us. The longer we keep them, the stronger our diversity..

MGen Aitchison: And I think we need to go beyond simple attraction to the recruiting process, because what I would be interested in is how do we maximize the success rate of those women that we both attract and then recruit in order to get them into the CAF, pass their operational function point. And so, are there barriers, systemic, physical or invisible barriers to success within our professional development system in that first developmental period that we need to look at to make sure that the playing field is level. And so as we look at fitness standards and performance standards across the spectrum of that recruit period, from when they join to when they come up the end of the pipe as qualified soldiers... Do we have that right? And then the other kind of irony is, as we look at retention initiatives to keep women in the uniform, many of the driving factors that lead to women releasing from the CAF are the same factors that lead to men's release from the CAF. And so we should have an interest in retention efforts for women because it will lead to a broader retention outcome for the broader population. And so that's kind of an ironic spin-off of focusing in on a particular demographic that has a broader impact to the broader population.

Nadia: Thank you, that’s great, and I also wonder if there’s a link to preconceived ideas among women or certain minorities that we have to try to change.

Hannah: Alright, so we'll move on to question four. We're going ask this one in English and French just because this one is a fun one, and I want to ensure that even our listeners, hear it right off the bat of what we're asking.

Including women and in decision-making in both conflicts and peacekeeping strengthens rebuilding and community connectedness. How has the Defence team ensuring women's voices are heard and women themselves are represented both domestically and internationally? And I know we already kind of touched on this in our previous question, but maybe we can just talk a little bit more directed to this question, and then Nadia’s going to ask it in French real quick before we begin.

Nadia: If you could implement one thing, a policy or a program, within the Defence team, what would it be? Would it be a Women, Peace and Security program? What would it be and why?

CWO Harris: To ensure women's voices are being heard that we're being represented both domestically and internationally, we've done a lot, and we've already mentioned that women are employed now in every occupation within the CAF, so I guess that will be step number one. But with that said, we are making significant strides in addressing the barriers that women face and men as well, by hearing and listening to what they have to say. And in particular our advisory groups, our Defence team advisory groups, and since this is Women Peace and Security, we’ll focus on The Women's Advisory Group, and is more affectionately known as a DWAO. Anyway, what this is, it's a space for women to voice their concerns and to raise offices that need to be addressed. And because of its ability to be heard, there's often greater leverage in amending somewhat dated policies, and it gets things moving and they evolve quite quickly actually. As an example of the success of the DWAO, the grooming standards, which we've all come to affectionately known as the beard and ponytail policies in the last couple of years. But its issues like that are brought to the forefront by the advisory organizations. And recently they're dealing with modernization of further modernizing hair policy and uniforms, the accessibility of maternity uniform and Women's Health and Wellness, just to name a few, and the weight of these advisory organizations is quite significant. They have a great depth and reach, and it shouldn't be underestimated for people that aren't necessarily familiar with them, they've resulted in a Women Service Dress Sub-Committee that reports to the National Dress Committee, which gives women a voice, and our uniforms which we didn't necessarily have in previous years. Also there's an advisor that specifically reports on the health and wellness initiatives to the CAF Surgeon General. So we do have a voice out there, and for those listeners that if you're not aware, I'll put a little plug out there right now. There is a Gender Focus Mentorship Group, and it is targeted for women and those that identify as women, and it is just a space to simply be paired up with a person that may share similar experiences with you, and you can access that through the Defence Women's Advisory Organization. All of these examples have proven successful and they've resulted in driven and empowered women over the last couple of years, and the most recent area that they have impacted is the changes to the naming of the navy ranks, in which the Commander of the Navy involved the entire CAF really in solicited advice and recommendations, and it's just another way for everyone to be heard as we evolve.

MGen Aitchison: And I think tools like social media have really helped. So I've been a member of the DWAO Facebook page for seven years I think, well, before I became a Champion. And it was because as a Commander, I was genuinely interested in the issues that they were talking about, because it does, in some cases, affect operational effectiveness in terms of the effectiveness of military equipment and how that applies to our ability to our job, etc. But more broadly, it affects the culture and the morale of a significant demographic group within the CAF, there's no question that there are challenges and barriers that exist for women and other marginalized groups, and while there have been efforts to increase representation and diversity within the CAF, the fact is that we remain in institutions is dominated by white males. And as a white male, I am genuinely interested in understanding the other perspectives in order to help address some of the internal changes that we need to address. And as we go forward from here, how we use, and as CWO Harris commented on it, the Defence advisory groups are becoming more and more vocal source to inform policy and policy development to the point where they used to be knocking at the door to try to provide their point of view. Now, their point of view is being solicited by the chain of command and by the policy makers, and to me that's a significant step forward. Are we there, where we need to be yet? No. But I think that as we look at how we formulate policy, it is now an active part of our thought process to make sure that the representation that we're looking for exists. And that exists from the Military colleges and some of their internal committees all the way up through to some of the Canadian Forces level committees, like CWO Harris referred to.

BGen Bourgon: Well, if I had a magic wand, if there's one thing that I could change, I think it would be the perception that 1325 is all about women, and therefore it's a women's problem. If there's one thing that I could change, I think it would be the perception that Resolution 1325 is all about women, and therefore it's a women's problem. 1325 for me is about so much more than gender or women. It looks at men, girls and boys, and through our Canadian perspective of the plus in the GBA, it looks at so many more factors such as age, religion, languages, and the list is long. It’s honestly the full human security gamut. So 1325 and applying a gender perspective in operation is not the sole responsibility of the women on the team or the gender advisor assigned to the operation. It's everyone's responsibility. The way I see it, it's a new way of looking at the world, it's like putting a pair of glasses and seeing the world through new lenses. Lenses that are not pink, okay. Those lenses are not pink, but they're multicoloured as it looks at the entire human security environment and how different people are affected differently. So honestly, I would back all the men to get involved because we need them. Integrating gender perspective in operations is not a role or responsibility just for women; it’s teamwork, and everyone has to do their part, including men.

Hannah: I completely agree. It's definitely a starting point of conversation within the equity sphere, right now it’s definitely not just a fight for whatever group is asking for equal or equitable rights, it's not just their problem, it should be everyone's task. And it can't be done without the equal efforts of everyone involved, and I would say sometimes even more efforts for those who currently hold positions of power, and I think that that's just a really great point that we need to really call in our allies at this time and really ensure that UNSCR 1325 moves forward for the next 20, 30 years, alongside a (for lack of a better term) army of allies that are working towards common goals and really ensuring that inclusivity of women and non-binary folks, the burden isn't placed on their back.

MGen Aitchison: Yeah, I would say two things in echoing, but your comments and Terra or goes, and that is that this is a leadership issue, and it's a leadership issue in two respects. One is within the Canadian Armed Forces in the broader Defence team, this is an issue for all leaders, arguably all people, at all levels, all ranks and backgrounds. They need to understand that what it is that we're really talking about here. This is about political correctness, this isn't about disadvantaging a group or advantage relative to other groups, this is about making sure that we have an open, inclusive and welcoming organization that allows for us to execute the operations that we're being asked to do. And we can't do that if we have a narrow view of the world, it's a leadership issue in the sense that we, for years have been setting the example for our allies to follow... I could tell you some of the conversations I've spent a lot of time in the United States, a lot of time on international missions, working with allies, and some nations simply don't share our perspective on the value of that diversity and nor do they share a perspective on the value that women bring to some roles. And so Canada in this sense is absolutely leading, and I think UNSCR 1325, the Defence advisory groups, the Champions that have been named and empowered to drive this conversation on behalf of the organization will bring together that same effort. So tomorrow, for example, there's going to be an Education Consortium on Women, Peace and Security that’s going to talk about how we integrate this into professional military education. And CDA, the Canadian Defence Academy is leading that effort within the broader Canadian community, and it's a binational largely forum, and we will be sharing our perspectives with one of our key allies on how it is that we do that to help bring them along in some respects. Because at the end of the day, all of this diversity brings strength and operational effective for us to be able to achieve ultimately our nation's security goals, whether those are domestic or international.

Hannah Rosen: I completely agree, and I am glad just in general, to have the three of you on this call, in the sense that this really exemplifies the type of leadership that is at National Defence and the CAF and the kind of leaders that are really making great strides for gender equality, diversity inclusion at CNC and the CAF. So that's just a little shout out to the three of you as well, because your work does not go unnoticed as leaders within the CAF and DND. And so in saying that, I will move on to our fifth question. If you could implement one thing within the Defence team, be it a policy program service, etc., right now with the snap of your fingers that would support Women, Peace and Security agenda. What would it be and why?

MGen Aitchison: I'll start because my dream is simple. It is for people to treat all people with dignity and respect irrespective of what sub-demographic they come from. Regrettably, there's no policy or training that will change that because at the end of the day, we reflect society and not all of society understands that. But if I could change one thing, it would be for all members of the Defence team to treat all people with dignity and respect.

Hannah: I think that's a great dream to move forward, and honestly, if we could just convince some even more senior leaders of Defence to make a policy about dreams that would be great. I don't think what happened, but we can cross our fingers.

CWO Harris: For me Hannah, and honestly if given the opportunity to change one thing as the snap of my fingers, I would change the way that we build teams. We're transitioning from a place of where the fastest runner, the loudest person on the parade square, they were the best in what we had to offer in terms of leadership. But now we're in a place and the world is changing and we need leaders that from the outset that not only are physically fit and are great representatives of the dress, drill and department and everything that's the military represents, but ones that, and I don't know how to measure this, but moral courage and inclusive mindset are really the two key components. But while we have that as part of our team, we don't necessarily measure it and set that to the forefront, so if we could change that... That would be my goal.

Hannah: Yeah, I think speaking to the moral courage part, I think that's a big thing in our side day, and I'm hoping to see it as we move along and get more young folks engaged in the CAF and DND. I will say that young people today do have quite the gift of having a voice, that they're not afraid to speak and stand up for what is right, and I feel like that could only... I feel like it spreads like wild fire, I guess is the best way to say it. When someone is confident enough to speak up in the face of oppression or any kind of injustice, then that can only be modelled as a leader, whether it be someone who's just an officer or someone who goes up higher in the ranks, or someone who just works at DND as a civilian. I think any kind of leader that really uses that moral courage that you speak of is really the kind of leader that I'm glad that the CAF and DND really respects and encourages.

BGen Bourgon: And I believe I've already answered this question, but I have a follow on that I will add. So for me, it's really trying to convince people that GBA+ and gender in operations is not rocket science, so we need to do a better job at demystifying the process so that people stick with it from the beginning. We have a great process that is now mandatory for GBA+ to be done on every policy, procurement, everything. But more often than not, it's at the end of the process when someone wakes up and says, I forgot the GBA+ analysis piece on it, and then once the project is almost 90% complete, they tried to add the GBA+, and well it just doesn't work like that. So really need to demystify the process and looking at it through from the get-go at the beginning of the process, so that the GBA+, the strength of the GBA+ is reflected throughout and not only as an add-on, and so that would be my piece, is the demystifying and the fact that it's just not rocket science.

Nadia: To add to General Bourgon’s point, I also think that GBA+ is misunderstood by the public and by people who don’t really know what it is, who think that it’s a women’s problem. I think we need to get the right message out outside the institution.  

BGen Bourgon: Yes, and I think that it’s really a very important point that we have to continue establishing, in addition to formulation and training. At every level of training, we should have a small section on GBA+ and what it means, what’s needed. We need a small reminder, which will become more and more developed so that people can grow in the process.

Nadia: Yes, exactly, thank you.

Hannah: All of my favourite podcasts finish off with what's called a popcorn style Round Table, so what I to do is just like popcorn does is pop from person to person, and if there are any last points that you want add on that for some reason it wasn't covered with a question or it came up after you finished answering and you were like, oh, I wish I said that, this would be the time to say it. So I will start off with Chief Warrant Officer Harris, and then you guys can just take it away on your end for whoever wants to add some things on... And then we'll just wrap it up.

CWO Harris: Well, I guess Hannah, my popcorn point is to stress the importance of allies, whether it's women as an ally for men or men as an ally for women, or an ally from an indigenous perspective or from the LGBTQ members. I think that ally ship is critical, and that is not necessarily limited to leadership that starts to the very bottom and were all members of the team. And that's really where we need to be, we need to be good teammates, respectful teammates, and we need to have one another’s back, which is what we always talk about, but now we need to make having one another’s back from a respectful diverse lens.

BGen Bourgon: I’ll echo the point that the General said was diversity is strength, and the more diverse we can be, the more operationally focused and better will be representing our national interest, so that's the objective. And the Kool-Aid point is really good too. We drank the Kool-Aid and we believe in it.

Hannah: Love that Kool-Aid. Between the Kool-Aid and popcorn, this is quite the podcast we’ve got going on.

MGen Aitchison: I was just going to say popcorn and Kool-Aid go well together. I think what I would add is, so up until this past summer, I spent three years away from home, and one of the things you learn when you're outside of Canada, as you look through life in your new environment through a Canadian lens, is how we are different. And in many ways, as I alluded to earlier, we're setting the bar pretty high. I listed a bunch of general officers and senior officers who have been successful, women who have been successful in their own right in non-traditional trades or trades that weren't traditional 20 years ago, and trades that are not traditional outside of Canada. When I look at the last two years I spent on exchange with the US Army, and I was reading an article the other day where they were talking about a female soldier, infantryman soldier who had just joined her battalion. And this is really cutting-edge stuff for the US Army. In my regiment, the Royal Canadian regiment, we have a Master Warrant Officer, so a company Sergeant, Major level female soldier who is a supremely high quality soldier, I worked directly with her when I was at our infantry school, and she was one of the best instructors that we had their full stop, and it's because of what she brings to the fight. She was significantly more empathetic than some of her male colleagues, she had a broader view of the world, and she just brought different tools into work every day that made her... relatively speaking, a more effective leader within that organization. And this is all by design. This goes back decades, and I think the big difference in our experience, a Canadian experience, is that we're thinking intentionally about how we do this or have been for 20, 25, 30 years. And so the implementation, the influence of things like UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda, we wouldn't be here where we are in 2020 without some leadership, whether it was externally driven or internally driven. But at the end of the day, that was embraced by the leadership at some point in the past, that it is now fully, embraced by the leadership today. And so when I look at our allies who are just at the front end of that experience and some of the challenges that they're going through, that we look at and go that... That's so passé, that’s so 80s. To me, that's something that we should be both proud of and then share, it goes back to that leadership role with our allies, we can help them understand the pitfalls and the advantages of the diversity agenda that comes with gender integration in particular.

Hannah: I think you're so right, and honestly, that was a great note to end off this podcast with was just the fact that I think honestly, all three of your responses really touched on the fact that collaboration and ally-ship and best practice sharing, are really the key moving forward with UNSCR 1325 in the next 10, 20, 30 years is really knowing that we don't have all the answers as individuals and as an organization. And to get those answers, the best thing to do is to talk about it and to continue discussions such as this one, moving forward, and I'm just so grateful that I had the time to speak with you today.

MGen Aitchison: I think I'll certainly speak for myself and say, it's been my pleasure, Hannah and Nadia. Thank you for your time and facilitating this conversation.

BGen Bourgon: And good luck putting it together.

Hannah: Thank you very much. Virtual podcasts are always different than in person ones for sure.

Thanks for listening, a reminder that this is only part one of three of a series of podcasts hosted by the Department of National Defence on UNSCR-1325. Stay tuned for the following two podcasts coming out later this week.

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