CAF champion for women leads gender seminar with the Jordanian Armed Forces
By: A Member of the Canadian Training Assistance Team – Jordan, Female Engagement Team Technical Assistance Visit
ZARQA – Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) champion for women, Commodore Rebecca Patterson, led a mixed panel of Canadian, Jordanian and NATO members during the October 22, 2018 gender seminar held at the Jordanian Peace Operations Training Centre.
The panel discussion focused on the operational effects and benefits of gender integration within the military. The Department of Military Women’s Affairs (DMWA) aim is to increase women in the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) from one to three percent over the next five years.
The seminar, attended by senior JAF leadership consisted of two elements: a keynote address and an interactive panel discussion. Commodore Patterson delivered the keynote address, focusing on the operational benefits of gender perspectives on operations, Canadian policy and progress on gender integration.
The panel was composed of CAF, JAF, and NATO representatives, bringing a wide variety of expertise with gender integration. The panel discussed unique barriers to both genders within military culture, and the benefits and experiences of the panelists on mixed-gender teams. The Canadian Defence Attaché to Jordan, Colonel Pascal Demers, added that gender integration is easier than one might think, and that providing the proper training, both physically and in trade specific skills, is the key to success in this domain.
Colonel Iqbal Bawaneh from the JAF Directorate of Military Training was asked about the importance of gender integration in all aspects of training. He emphasised the importance of acceptance from the highest of ranks within the JAF for gender integration to be successful.
Gender integration within the JAF will take time. Cultural shifts happen slowly, with hard working men and women paving the way for the next generation of soldiers. Jordan has taken a step forward towards better gender integration within its Forces, setting a good example for other nations in the Middle East.
An example of this is the JAF Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Female Engagement Team (FET). In December 2017, the JAF QRF Brigade officially stood up the Female Engagement Team. This all female platoon’s role is to support the QRF with Humanitarian Operations, by conducting personnel searches on refugees and detainees (women and children). Currently, the short term goal is to grow the current platoon into a company, and have one platoon assigned to each of the three Battalions within the QRF. If successful, this concept will be applied throughout the JAF.
In mid-September, the first CAF FET Technical Assistance Visit (TAV) team arrived in Jordan. In the following few months, this team will mentor the FET platoon and provide training with a view of helping the FET achieve their goal of integration into the QRF.
Lieutenant-Colonel Maha Nasser ended the panel discussion with a very simple, yet important message: “If you want it, you can do it.” Simply put, if you want something to come to fruition, such as better gender integration within the JAF, then all you must do is work for it.
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