Following a request made by the Swiss Embassy in India, ISSAT delivered presentations on CRSV at the workshop “Integrated Programme on Mainstreaming Gender in UN Peacekeeping to end Conflict Related Sexual Violence”. The workshop was organised by UNWOMEN India and the United Services Institute of India and took place in New Delhi in February 2018. ISSAT contributed to the 4-day programme designed to improve UN peacekeepers’ ability to address and prevent CRSV in their operational environment. A total of 37 participants attended (17 of which female), from 10 countries in the region.
The initial request was for a senior ISSAT advisor with strong familiarity of CRSV as well as contextual knowledge to complement the pre-determined training programme. ISSAT was able to identify a senior advisor who was also a serving officer of rank in the army and who had practical experience in facilitating and coordinating an audience of military officers. As such, ISSAT was able to provide additional support in strengthening the overall delivery of the programme by, for example, helping to adapt the workshop methodology to the specific audience and by identifying entry points for early warning signs from a military perspective.
With regards to the workshop, ISSAT aimed to ensure the legitimacy of the facilitator as a knowledgeable peer with the goal of building rapport with participants through understanding of the military culture and substantive knowledge of the relevant norms and good practices. Under this pretext, the methodology applied by ISSAT aimed at linking policy to practice, including focusing on how strategic documents such as the UN Security Council Resolutions 1820 and 2272 and SDG5 would translate at the multiarray tactical level.
Adapt your methodology to your audience to facilitate discussion and generate impact. Gender is not an easy subject for discussion, even more so when it comes to CRSV. The methodology used in discussions by the facilitators can sometimes backfire and create contrary effects than those planned when operating in highly masculine cultures. To overcome this, ISSAT followed the Pebbles and Ripples Methodology where a light start was chosen, i.e. a UN Video on LGBT rights with positive messaging (a small pebble which created a small ripple), so as to engage the audience in the discussion. If the audience is convinced of the significance of the matter and the impact they can have, then the atmosphere is ripe to discuss trickier concepts such as the role of officers in addressing CRSV. Starting with small pebbles also gives the facilitator the space to be able to build credibility and trust with the audience and lead discussions in the right direction.
Using the military mindset to one’s advantage with a peer to peer approach: Being a ranking military officer herself, the ISSAT senior advisor understood she could hold conversations with participants and use her gender as an advantage to steer discussions towards reciprocal learning and sharing. However, establishing credibility with the male-dominated participants was a necessary first step which had to be anticipated and worked into the methodology.
Preparation of visually attractive knowledge products to summarise key policy documents. Understanding the complexities of CRSV, the ISSAT facilitator was proactive in reaching out to UNICEF, OHCHR and internal DCAF expertise to cover as many perspectives as possible, including issues of Children in Conflict and Victim’s Information Management & Referrals. However, to ensure key messages were delivered, a concise and informed aide memoire (infographic) was designed by ISSAT. The aide memoire provided information on how to connect policy and practice. The document highlighted key UN approaches, international norms and various operational measures to be undertaken when combating CRSV.
This teaching aid served as a conversational piece when engaging course participants bilaterally in a peer-to-peer setting. In one example, a participant who was about to be deployed in a field mission in the capacity of staff officer responsible for Human Resources approached the ISSAT facilitator and thanked her for the productive debate during the training which he initially thought would be a waste of time and that he only attended because it was mandatory. As a result of the training, he had come to realise the relevance and importance of his role. A few months later, the ISSAT facilitator received an email from the same advisor who was now deployed and who expressed appreciation on how the training and the practical guidance received in being utilised in the staffing of the mission in question.
The sustainability of trainings can be strengthened through follow up tools related to the training such as impact assessment questionnaires, discussions in common online spaces such as the ISSAT Community of Practice (CoP) forum or ideally through formalised coaching plans to identify and track behavioural change of participants on gender related issues. This will allow the success of the trainings to not be dependent on the personalities participating but rather an alumni system that takes into account time and further capacity building needed to internalise even the simplest of messages.
The knowledge product created on CRSV aimed at translating international frameworks to the practical field settings is a key contribution of ISSAT to the service of the international SSR community. It is also an excellent teaching tool. Visually attractive knowledge products on other cross-cutting issues on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda need to be developed and broadly distributed through online dissemination in addition to the physical distribution during face to face trainings.
Case study published in July 2019.