RCAF member deploys as gender advisor

Major Rhea MacLean
Major Rhea MacLean reacts with pride and pleasure upon receiving the Kuwait Medal in recognition of her service as senior duty officer for the Operations Cell on Operation IMPACT. Photo: Submitted

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By Officer Cadet Kylie Penney

Major Rhea MacLean has been selected as the gender advisor overseeing all gender-related training and advising on all gender-related issues for Canadians on deployment. Maj MacLean will work for Commander Task Force Latvia.

While attending Staff College last year, Maj MacLean took several classes on gender-based analysis, and completed an independent research paper on gender integration in the Canadian Armed Forces. When nominations were being sought for a deployment to Latvia as the gender advisor on Operation REASSURANCE, she quickly submitted her name. She was selected as the perfect fit for this unique role.

She will ensure that the “gender focal point representatives”, whose roles are secondary to their primary duties, are being well-advised, well-trained and are passing the relevant information to the troops.

Before starting in her new position, she embarked on a two-week prerequisite gender advisor course in Sweden, at the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations – the leading international centre on gender in military operations.

“I am looking forward to the training in Sweden the most,” Maj MacLean said before leaving for Sweden. “The opportunity to get this kind of training from the subject matter experts, with such a diverse group of participants from all over the world, will be fascinating.”

This deployment will be the second for Maj MacLean in her career. She deployed to Kuwait on Op IMPACT from December 2015 to July 2016 as the senior duty officer for the operations cell. She expects this deployment and role to be an entirely different experience.

“Last time was more about managing mission-specific operations on a tactical level,” she said, adding “this position will involve working with the commander on broader issues and operational planning at the strategic level. I think being a female air operations major in the aerospace control occupation, with some background in gender studies, will allow me to bring a different perspective and unique approach to the role.”

Despite the fact that she will really miss her cats and dog while she is away, she says she is very excited about taking on the new challenge. “It will be very enlightening to get different perspectives and approaches to managing gender in the military. I am excited to gain extra expertise in gender-based analysis and to be able to expand on this fascinating subject,” she said.

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