The women represent, together with their children, 75% of the victims who flee their home to seek refuge in another country in the event of war. They are also the main victims of sexual abuse in times of war and the first to have to leave school. And yet her voice is drowned out by that of men before, during, and after each contest. “We cannot speak of sustainable peace if we do not include women in the process.” This is Clare Hutchinson, NATO’s High Representative for Women, Peace and Security.

Canadian of British origin, Hutchinson had worked for a decade at the UN in the same field. Their task is not only to ensure that women’s weight is increased in the armed forces, which is only 12%. “It is not enough,” he admits. “The framework is very broad and includes security elements. From the office and I supervise issues ranging from what happens to children in conflict, sexual violence, trafficking in human beings, cultural protection … “, she explains.

The debate on inequality did not reach the UN Security Council until 2000. Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was then adopted, which addresses three areas: protection, participation and prevention. “Since then there has been tremendous progress,” he says. The Afghan government, for example, today conditions an eventual peace agreement with the Taliban on respect for women’s rights. “We never would have had this conversation before 2000,” admits Hutchinson, who still cautions: “It’s not just a question of rights. We are talking about peace and security. “

Hutchinson ensures that NATO complies with the precepts set by the UN. Her mission, she says, is that women are at the center of the decisions made from conflict prevention to, if it ends up materializing, its resolution. Participation, he argues, is a key factor. “Inequality, even if it is not perceived, is itself a foundation of the conflict. When there are women who do not have access, especially in areas such as sexual violence, to justice, there are no means or rights, there is a problem. ” This has a lot to do with the “great gap” that persists in governments and parliaments.

Clare Hutchinson, in her NATO office. Delmi Alvarez

And there Hutchinson refocuses on NATO. Perhaps women are not in institutions, but they must be sought in civil society. To start, she asks to increase the number of “women deployed in their activities” to at least 20% of the forces, as requested by the UN. In a recent conference organized in Madrid by Canada, the High Representative already announced that NATO is preparing a plan against sexual abuse in countries where it has forces.

But its mission must go further. In any deployment of the Alliance, its troops must “identify civil society and listen to the voices of women directly.” “If we do not include them, especially in areas where we require their leadership, we are failing to understand what communities need,” he says. And in addition, there is a risk that they fall into the hands of extremism. Terrorist groups, according to the UN, already have between 20% and 30% of women in their ranks.

Feminism and the use of force

Hutchinson’s efforts are also to position the voice of women in the resolution of the conflict. “It is women who are leading the reconstitution of societies,” she recalls. And yet, the figures are more than conclusive: only 2% of mediators, 8% of negotiators and 5% of signatories have been women. “It is empirically tested. There is a 35% chance that a peace agreement will last more than two years if women are included in it, ”he points out.

Hutchinson considers herself a feminist. And it does not believe that being so is at odds with defending the armed use of force. He admits that many people defend that he is. “I do not. I am a feminist and I work in feminism, which is equality, ”she says emphatically. “I belong to a school that appeals that equality is essential,” adds Hutchinson, who claims the three pillars of his program. “They are closely related to the values ​​of feminism: integration, inclusion and integrity.”

Nor does he believe that his position would be meaningless if the leader of the Alliance were a woman. “NATO has put this unique position at the highest level. My direct boss is the CEO. And this is a key issue and mandate for him. Men must be on the agenda. It is important that women occupy high responsibilities, but also that their voice is in security and defense policy, ”argues the High Representative. After all, she concludes, she is not dealing with “a women’s issue.” “It belongs to the whole of society, defense, security, humanitarianism, peace.” “The key to success,” he concludes, “is not always increasing the number of women,” which too. It is about “promoting policies so that they are applicable to everyone in terms of equality”. And that is their job.