ArticlePDF Available

Role of Women in Security and Defense: Bulgarian National Policies and Experience

Authors:

Abstract

The paper focuses on the policies for gender equality which can and should be understood as a long-term investment, not as a situational solution or a short-term cost, especially in military environment. On the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 - “Women, peace and security”, the National plan for implementation of the Resolution 1325 in the MoD in Bulgaria has been analyzed. New policies or initiatives concerning the implementation of gender in the Bulgarian Armed Forces are included with the actual information about female active duty military personnel and the perspectives to overcome the prejudices and stereotypes in people’s minds.
International Conference KNOWLEDGE-BASED ORGANIZATION
Vol. XXIII No 1 2017
ROLE OF WOMEN IN SECURITY AND DEFENSE: BULGARIAN NATIONAL
POLICIES AND EXPERIENCE
Nevena ATANASOVA KRASTEVA
“Vasil Lesvski” National Military University, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
nevena_atanasova@abv.bg
Abstract: The paper focuses on the policies for gender equality which can and should be understood
as a long-term investment, not as a situational solution or a short-term cost, especially in military
environment. On the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 - "Women, peace and
security", the National plan for implementation of the Resolution 1325 in the MoD in Bulgaria has
been analyzed. New policies or initiatives concerning the implementation of gender in the Bulgarian
Armed Forces are included with the actual information about female active duty military personnel
and the perspectives to overcome the prejudices and stereotypes in people's minds.
Keywords: gender, implementation of good policy, UNSC Resolution 1325
“The world of humanity has two wings - one is women and the other men.
Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible”
Baha’i writings
1. Introduction.
One of the most widely discussed and
promising topics, quite relevant since the
beginning of the 21st century, is related to
gender issues. Terms such as gender
equality, equality between men and women,
gender mainstreaming are very common in
public and scientific space. According to
many authors, the equality between women
and men is not a factor whose influence
will be applied to half of the mankind. Its
impact will affect all sides of the society.
Nowadays many organizations and people
work hard to support different activities and
efforts to protect human rights and at the
same time to promote the real place of
women and girls in all aspects of life.
Improving the status and well-being of
women is a popular tendency because of the
world processes connected with the
perspective to create more coherent gender
equality mechanisms. In that case all people
just society and therefore the opinion of the
same civil society is important for the
discussions in the biggest and most
influential words communities and
organizations.
That’s why the understanding of the
equality between men and women has a
long history during its implementation and
implications for the society. “….the
equality of women and men is a facet of
human reality and not just a condition to be
achieved for the common well-being. What
makes human beings human - their inherent
dignity and nobility - is neither male nor
female. The search for meaning, for
purpose, for community; the capacity to
love, to create… has no gender. This has
profound implications for the organization
of every aspect of human society.” [7]. We
can add that the gender issue is not only
connected with social justice and diversity
in the surrounding social environment.
must be participants in the formation of the
DOI: 10.1515/kbo-2017-0001
© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.
9
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
The equality appears to be a condition for
achieving the goals of each organization,
the existence of competitiveness and
creating opportunities for social cohesion.
2. Body.
Different practices have shown that
investing in policies for gender equality has
turned out to be a sustainable and timely
solution to old and new problems and
challenges in the last 15 years. Therefore
when we’re analyzing the content of a
number of international documents – for
example - UN resolutions and national
strategies and plans for their
implementation, we can make the
conclusion that the policies for gender
equality can and should be understood as a
long term investment, not as a situational
solution or a short-term cost.
Many of the contemporary publications are
devoted to the real place and problems of
women at the different levels of political,
economic and social life. An important part
of scientific and popular research is aimed
to the female participation in the decision
making process. According to V. Norville
Building lasting peace and security
requires women’s participation. Half of the
world’s population cannot make a whole
peace.” [3]
With relation to this, we should point out
that the adoption of United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000
is seen as a historic recognition by the
international community of the negative
effect that armed conflicts have on women
and children in particular, as civilians,
refugees or internationally displaced
persons. The UNSC Resolution 1325
“Woman, peace and security” totally
changed the focus of the important roles
which women play as leaders and
participants in security efforts for
example, prevention of or helping in
conflicts, peace building, developing
postconflict reintegration efforts, and
improving the standard of life. Women
insist that their knowledge and skills, their
leadership abilities, their full potential be
tapped in the governance.Today, this is
increasingly framed as not only the “right”
thing to do, but also the “smart” thing to
do.” [2]
In the context of the Armed Forces, where
the working environment is gender
mixed, it is particularly important that both
women and men feel engaged in gender
issues. Additionally the two sexes have to
be convinced of the benefits of efficient
gender equality policies for the society as a
whole.
To achieve progress in this direction, an
essential role in the changing of the still
existing negative stereotypes and attitudes
is attributed to the education of people,
media messages and the government’s
practices. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes
in society continue to persist and to be
transmitted through modern education and
developed culture. In most countries,
women and men often follow the traditional
models of education that actually lead to
career opportunities for women in
professional fields with lower wages. That
is why, one of tasks is to advise and
encourage young men and women to
choose non-traditional routes / areas in their
educational development.
But to be honest, more than 10 years after
the United Nations Security Council passed
Resolution 1325 with the recommendation
to increase women’s participation in issues
of global security, the numbers of women
with real participation in peace solutions
remain marginal. And in spite of all
improvements which have been made,
women still remain underrepresented in
public office, at the negotiating table or in
peacekeeping missions. It should not be
forgotten that the continuing lack of
physical security and the existence of
serious legal constraints in postconflict
societies hamper women’s integration into
economic life and leadership. [3]
The service in the Armed Forces of the
Republic of Bulgaria is a good example of
the entry of female soldiers in the so-far
purely "male territory" of the Bulgarian
Army.
10
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
The national plan for implementation of
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in
the Ministry of Defence of Bulgaria exists
from 2011. At a national level the body
responsible for consultations, cooperation
and coordination among the governmental
and Non-governmental organizations in the
elaboration and realization of the national
policy on gender equality is the National
Council on gender equality under the
Council of Ministers.
The Deputy Defence Minister is a member
of the National Council on gender equality.
The Council of Ministers has adopted an
Annual national action plan for promotion
of gender equality. This plan follows the
goals, set out in the National strategy for
promotion of gender equality for the period
2009 – 2015.
The plan for the implementation of
Resolution 1325 of the UN Security
Council in the Ministry of Defense is a
serious and responsible sign to the
Bulgarian and international community of
the priorities and main steps of the
management of the Ministry of Defense and
Armed Forces with the idea to implement
the Euro-Atlantic policies in this area.
The goals in the Action plan for
implementation of United Nations Security
Council Resolution 1325 at the Ministry of
Defence are as follows: [1]
1. Provide mechanisms for the full
implementation in the structures of the
Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of
the principles set in Resolution 1325 of the
UN Security Council.
2. Guarantee to the partners from the UN,
EU, NATO and other international
organizations with common values and
principles that there is provided adequate
contribution to allied operations.
3. An affirmation of Ministry of Defense of
the Republic of Bulgaria as a leader in
Southeast Europe in the implementation of
policies on gender.
The plan for the implementation of
Resolution 1325 in MoD of Bulgaria was
developed jointly with the "BULGARIAN
ARMED FORCES WOMEN’S
ASSOCIATION" BUAFWA. This
organization was established in 2006 as an
NGO, and as a logical consequence of the
increased proportion of women in the
military units in the BG Army. The mission
of BUAFWA is to promote and endorse the
prestige and social status of women in the
Armed Forces and to protect their common
interests.
A good example of new policies or
initiatives concerning the implementation
of gender equality in the Bulgarian Armed
Forces is connected with one of the
guidelines in the National plan for
implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325.
This measure refers to the removal of the
informal restrictions for women in
professional fields, majors, specializations,
degrees and forms of education in applying
for acquisition of Bachelor Degrees in
“Military field" with professional
qualification - “Officer".
Thanks to the cooperation agreement signed
between the MoD and the BUAFWA and
after long creative discussions the above
mentioned obstacle had been overcome.
And this is already a fact there isn’t a
quota for "men" and "women" applicants in
the military academies. In the last 3-4 years
the trainees and future officers have been
classified on the basis of their results
achieved on admission exams. And both
sexes receive equal opportunity for
development and further advancement.
According to the statistical data, prepared
for the NATO Committee on Gender
Perspectives, in the last years more than 15
% of the total number of cadets at Bulgarian
military educational institutions are
females.
A proof for the right direction of the
understanding of gender mainstreaming or
gender perspective in MoD is the place
Bulgaria takes with respect to the number
of women in the armed forces as compared
to other NATO member nation in 2015.
The 2015 Summary of the National Reports
of NATO member and partner nations to
11
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
the NATO Committee on Gender
Perspectives (NCGP) on the
implementation of the United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1325 on
Women, Peace and Security represents
active duty female military personnel in the
Armed forces of NATO member nations in
2015, by country. This statistics Bulgaria is
in the 7-th place with 15,2 % active duty
female military personnel, after Hungary,
Latvia, Slovenia, Greece, USA and France.
[6]. Furthermore, comparing the number of
men and women in the armed forces of
NATO member nations in 2015, it is
important to point out that Albania,
Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia,
Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and USA are
above the NATO average, which is 10.8%
for women and 89.2% for men.
In the part “Retention Statistics in 2015” of
the Report there is an analysis of the
percentage of NATO member nations with
retention policies that specifically target
women.” While 81% of NATO member
nations have retention policies, 11% of
them have particular retention policies for
women.” [6] There are provided the best
examples among NATO member nations
with regards to the adoption of specific
retention policies for women in use in 2015.
And in these examples we see Bulgaria
with Spain and United Kingdom where
specific retention policies for women are in
place.
Another good gender policy in the
Bulgarian Armed Forces can be defined as
parental life and rights. Pursuant to the
information in the National report of
Bulgaria, the legal social support is given to
mothers during pregnancy and both parents
of a new-born child. According to the
Labour Code, maternity leave is 410 days
for each child and parental leave is 52
weeks for the mother as well as for the
father and it is transferable between parents.
Besides, there are specific programmes to
support the work-life balance for military
personnel such as the list of female military
personnel which will have flexible working
schedules. Another useful practice is the
part-time employment and flexible hours
which are allowed in case of parental leave
and caring for elderly and sick people.
There are special programmes to support
parents when both serve in the armed forces
or if parents are divorced or single. There is
a child-care policy that includes provisions
protecting parents from being deployed,
breastfeeding breaks, policy on duty
assignments, night duty, overtime work,
flexible working and service hours or
variable start/finish times during the
working day.
All these good benefits as a result of the
implementation of the different polices
connected with gender equality in military
environment provoke the new requirements
for the leaders from all levels. It means that
not only the military personnel from the
lowest levels have to be educated and
prepared but the new approaches and skills
must be acquired from the seniors.
We have to emphasize that the following is
stated in the Plan of Implementation of
Resolution 1325 in the Ministry of Defense
on preparation and standards of conduct: To
develop materials (manuals, lectures,
promotional materials, standards of conduct
/ ethics, etc.) for the implementation of
Resolution 1325 in order to integrate the
Policy of equality at all levels of the Armed
Forces.
In this regard, the education in gender
issues in the Bulgarian military academies
started in 2015. The aim is to support the
increased awareness on gender perspective
in military operations for the future officers
and to assist NATO Allies and Partners to
build their gender capacity and capabilities.
Topics related to issues of gender equality,
gender practices, the main international
documents of the UN and NATO were
offered on the website of NATO Strategic
Command – SACT [4].
Special attention is paid at the National
Military University to leadership training
that takes place in regular academic hours
12
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
on a modular basis, with theoretical and
practical exercises throughout the whole
course of education. On this occasion, as a
result of an active dialogue between
Ministry of Defense and the representatives
of BUAFWA and recommendations of
NATO, steps were taken to major changes
in the curricula, in modules of the
Leadership Training Course. The following
topics have been included in the Leadership
training module which has 4 parts:
“The essence of Gender Equality
Policies. International framework and
documents. "- lecture; workshop and
exercise;
"National framework and policies of the
implementation of gender equality"
lecture and workshop;
"Integration of Gender Equality Policies
in the planning, implementation and
evaluation of military operations and
missions." – lecture and exercise.
To summarize some of the shared examples
from the Bulgarian experience and
according to the 2015 Research
Questionnaire UNSCR 1325, the main
areas of employment where women serve
are as follows (the number of women that
serve in each applicable area):
- Administration 2,08%;
- Communications 5,07%;
- Logistics 1,4%;
- Finance 0,3%;
- Infantry 0,54%;
- Intelligence 0,54%;
- Legal 0,004%;
- Musicians 0,06%;
- Public Affairs 0,06%;
- Other 3,7%, Common: medical, surveyor,
meteorologist.
It is obvious that the measures taken by the
Ministry of Defence of Bulgaria to remove
the legal and organizational barriers to
implement gender perspective and to create
good organizational climate in the military
units are yielding results. Women in
uniform can live with dignity and with
expectations for career development and
social support. Sometimes the problems
with overcoming the prejudice and
stereotypes in people's minds can delay the
process which requires targeted policy,
systematic work and education.
To follow the active attitudes in the military
and to take adequate decisions regarding
gender balance in the army, sociological
research on the topic of "Organizational
climate in formations and structures of the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria"
has been done by the MoD. [5] It is a
positive tendency that in the last years the
research has included questions about the
attitudes towards the service of women and
people from different ethnic and cultural
groups in the army. The analysis of the data
shows that women soldiers are perceived as
being in a relatively privileged position as
compared to their male colleagues, while
the presence of such a privilege for men is
lacking. At the same time, the study proves
that there are no signs of organizational
discrimination towards females in the
military. These results require research
attention to the factors which are underlying
the differences in the perception of men and
women soldiers regarding the privilege of
two sexes in the military.
3. Conclusion.
To finalize all reflections full of good
examples, working policies and expectable
troubles, the opinion of the author is that
the initiatives related to gender equality will
contribute to the development of the
modern and affluent society. The continued
empowerment of women is a responsible
task both for the state authorities and for the
ordinary people. It is more important to
believe and to do our best, with small steps
to move in the right and desired
direction……as The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights reads:All human beings
are born free and equal in dignity and
rights”.
13
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
References
[1] Action plan for implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 at
the Ministry of Defence, www.mod.bg/en/doc/gender
[2] Chang P., Alam M., Warren R., Bhatia R. , Turkington R. , Woman leading peace,
Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, 2015
[3] Norville V., The Role of Women in Global Security. Special report, United States
Institute of Peace, www.usip.org
[4] Package of training and education tools - SACT, NATO, www.act.nato.int/gender-
training
[5] Report about the results of a sociological survey: "Organizational climate in formations
and structures of the Armed forces of the Republic of Bulgaria", MoD - Defense
Advanced Research Institute, Sofia, 2015
[6] Summary of the National Reports of NATO member and partner nations to the NATO
Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP), 2015,
www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2017_01/20170113_2015_NCGP_Natio
nal_Reports_Summary.pdf
14
Unauthenticated
Download Date | 7/28/17 6:59 AM
... The aim was to support the increased awareness of gender perspective in military operations for the future officers and to assist NATO Allies and Partners to build their gender capacity and capabilities." [2]. The National Military University in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, offers gender-issue education which is included as separate topics in the Leadership training modules. ...
Article
Full-text available
The report points the need of studying the gender equality topic as an element of leadership formation of the future officers in the European Armed Forces. The analysis of the approaches to the inclusion of the subject in different disciplines will help to increase the sensitivity and the understanding of the military personnel to the questions related to the implementation of the gender equality in a military environment. The equal treatment of the both sexes and the opportunities for successful realization, based on their professionalism, would contribute to the harmonization of the working environment as a part of modern European policies.
Article
Full-text available
According to most of the research papers there are good social psychological conditions, which influence the smooth integration of women into the military. Furthermore, the opinion of military men to women integration in it, is generally well accepted. Most of them except women as equal and treat them with respect. A considerable percentage of women in the army share that it is not necessary for them being privilege, compare to men. Additional studies suggest that higher ranking officials in the military, know well their subordinate’s issues and it is not their gender that defines their capabilities, but their experience and qualities
Woman leading peace, Georgetown Institute for Women
  • P Chang
  • M Alam
  • R Warren
  • R Bhatia
  • R Turkington
Chang P., Alam M., Warren R., Bhatia R., Turkington R., Woman leading peace, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, 2015
The Role of Women in Global Security. Special report, United States Institute of Peace
  • V Norville
Norville V., The Role of Women in Global Security. Special report, United States Institute of Peace, www.usip.org
Summary of the National Reports of NATO member and partner nations to the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives www nato int nato static fl assets pdf pdf NCGP National Reports Summary pdf
  • NCGP
Woman leading peace Institute for Women
  • Chang