NATO and women – words that do not necessarily make a natural connection in peoples’ minds. It is either men in uniform or in dark suits, the diplomats’ preferred outfit, that populate NATO’s corridors and committee rooms and, more importantly, take decisions.
Still, you must look hard to find women at NATO’s senior political level: the French Ambassador is an exception: being the only woman at the table of the North-Atlantic Council, Mme Andreani can be rather easily spotted. The vast majority of senior posts in NATO’s International Staff, however, are still held by men. Only two of the 19 civilian top posts are currently occupied by women. Up to now, the Alliance has never appointed a senior female envoy or special representative, nor a woman Secretary General or Deputy Secretary General. Given the number of Allies which have women Foreign and Defence Ministers, the latter is somewhat surprising. The governments of Croatia and Iceland and are even run by woman Prime Ministers and Germany has its female Chancellor.
Yet a closer look tells a different, more encouraging story. During the past years more and more women have found their professional way into NATO. Although still a minority, they are doing excellent jobs across NATO’s political and military agenda. They deal with defence policies and procurement issues, they act as political advisors to NATO’s Senior Representative in Kabul and run the Science for Peace and Security Programme. They prepare NATO’s committee meetings, the Secretary General’s checklists and analyses on NATO’s operations. In short, women are adding significantly to NATO’s workforce, both inside Headquarters and in the field.