The Defence Forces are committed to gender equality and employ a gender perspective in all polices and regulations. We understand Gender Equality to mean the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women and men, boys and girls. Equality does NOT mean women and men become the same but that women and men’s rights responsibilities and opportunities will NOT depend on whether they are male and female.
A gender perspective means being able to recognise that any given situation may effect men and women differently and being able to respond accordingly. The Defence Forces are currently working on a gender mainstreaming process and fulfilling our commitments under UNSCR 1325 the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The Defence Forces employs Military Gender Advisors to provide education on gender perspective and awareness of gender based violence in conflict and other settings. The Defence Forces is an inclusive organisation and encourages participation of women at all levels. All roles are open to women and men on merit and an equal opportunities basis.
On military operations we encourage mixed gender units in order to have personnel available to respond to any given situation. When mixed gender patrols are deployed we are better equipped to respond to a variety of situations that might occur in today’s complex security environment these include having both males and females available for urban operations, search operations, working on checkpoints, when patrolling villages and towns, and responding to cases of gender based violence.
It is also necessary to have both males and females deployed on seagoing operations for example to respond to the needs of women, men, boys and girls in search and rescue operations. To be more reflective of our society, the Defence Forces would strongly encourage more women to join in order to assist us in becoming a more effective military force.
The Defence Forces are committed to promoting equality in all aspects of our work, both at home overseas, at sea and in the air. Equality aims to ensure everyone is treated fairly and is provided with the same opportunities. The Defence Forces also considers equity to be essential in providing the opportunities and resources to achieve equality.
The Defence Forces Equality Polices ensure we are fully compliant with the Equality Acts 1998-2015 (please see below). The Defence Forces employs the principles of equal opportunities in all our policies, procedures, instructions and regulations. We support an inclusive workplace where dignity and respect are afforded to all, regardless of rank, gender, race, religion, civil status, family status, sexual orientation and membership of the travelling community.
The Dignity Charter of Defence Forces ensures we are committed to encouraging and supporting the right to dignity at work. Bullying, sexual harassment and harassment in any form is NOT accepted by us and will NOT be tolerated. The Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 Section 42 places a positive duty on public sector bodes to have regard to eliminate discrimination, promote equality, and protect human rights, in their daily work.
In line with our public sector duty the Defence Forces Women’s Network was established to support females in all aspects of their work and its aim is to develop strong female potential within the Defence Forces. Other initiatives include the establishment of an LGBTI support network Defend With Pride which aims to provide support information and guidance for LGBTI personnel and Allies who wish to support their family and friends.
Diversity refers to the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include for example individual and organisational characteristics, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviours. The Defence Forces aims to raise awareness of the variety of jobs and opportunities that are available within a modern inclusive military force. In order to reflect the society we serve the Defence Forces aims to attract future members from all backgrounds.
Therefore, managing diversity and promoting inclusion in response to a more diversified society is vital. In an increasingly complex security environment a diverse military force is required to tackle unforeseen events and threats. Other benefits include having personnel who feel included and are empowered to contribute in a positive manner.
Demonstrating a respect for difference helps create a more innovative problem-solving culture with new approaches and fresh perspectives that benefit the organisation by creating an environment where all employees can contribute fully. To be more reflective of our society, the Defence Forces strongly encourages people from minority backgrounds to join in order to assist us in becoming a more effective military force.
Source: Irish Defence Forces.