Women in Defence System – Serbia – 2022

National Action Plan 1325:

Serbia adopted its first five-year plan in 2010 and was among the pioneers in translating the UN women, peace and security agenda to the local level.1 The second action plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 in Serbia was adopted in 2017, but has expired two years ago.2 In its Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report on Serbia, the CEDAW Committee recommended that Serbia allocate sufficient resources and enhance mechanisms to effectively implement, monitor and evaluate the impact of the second national action plan and undertake a mid-term evaluation of the plan without any further delay. However, despite the official announcements made in 2021,4 there seems to be no political will to start the process. The second action plan was ambitiously designed, but partially implemented.5 For example, in the second Serbian action plan, policymakers envisioned a greater focus on the localisation of NAP 1325 and conflict prevention, as well as on dealing with the past. However, this has yet to be met in the future. The Ministry of Defence reported that the lack of action plan did not stop the process of implementing the NAP 1325 guidelines in the defence system due to the existence of gender equality mechanisms and donor support, primarily UNDP/ SEESAC.

Participation of women in the MoDs and the Armed Forces:

In principle, all positions are available to women and they are represented even in special forces’ units such as the Military Police Special Operation Battalion “Cobras” or the Special Brigade of the Serbian Armed Forces. Girls and women prepare for military service by attending military high school, the Military Academy and the Military Medical academy (VMA). Statistics from the Ministry of Defence show that the share of women among non-uniformed personnel (civilians) in the MoD and in the Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) is currently 53.72% (2022). Similar to many other countries in the region, the majority of women are engaged in civilian positions within the defence system. When it comes to the share of women among officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and soldiers, Serbia has the highest percentage of women who are professional soldiers – 16.31%. However, a similar trend is not present in the higher ranks, as only 8.68%of women serve as officers and 3.04% of women are NCOs. Still, a slight increase has been noted in all the categories compared to 2019 (7% officers, 2% NCOs, 15.5 % soldiers).6

Representation of women in command and leadership positions:

According to the available data from 2022, 14.68% of women hold leading positions in the MoD, while 5.21% of women hold command positions in the Serbian Armed Forces. The highest rank held by women in the Serbian Armed Forces is still that of Colonel, while the highest position within the MoD to which a woman has been appointed is that of Secretary of State.

Participation of women in peacekeeping operations:

According to the Ministry of Defence, 280 members of the Serbian Armed Forces are currently participating in five UN peacekeeping operations and three EU missions, and 11.43% of them are women. Women are engaged as military observers in the SAF unit and teams, as well as in the Level 2+ military hospital and in medical teams. The SIPRI report from 2021 shows that Serbia is among the top ten contributors to UN peace operations based on the number of women members of military personnel (44 women, or 15%),7 which has been acknowledged and praised by the USG for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.8 Despite the increase in the number of SAF members deployed in multinational operations, the data show that the percentage of women has decreased.

2022 – Balkan Defence Monitor
Women In Defence System – Serbia

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