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Commentary | 26 May 2020

In conversation with Silvana Koch-Mehrin: The gender challenge in security and defence

From their respective lockdown locations, Chairman of the European Leadership Network, Lord Des Browne and Founder of Women Political Leaders and senior network member, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, discuss women in leadership, and how better to support women operating in the field.

Women Political Leaders was founded with a vision to increase the number and influence of women in political leadership positions, arguing that convening women can help drive positive change and accelerate the impact and visibility of women in leadership roles globally.

The European Leadership Network similarly believes in the power of networks to affect positive change, specifically in relation to common political and security challenges. Both the ELN and WPL seek to challenge status quo thinking with regard to a changing political environment.

Acknowledging the challenges faced within our organisation and gender imbalance in our senior network, Lord Browne asks Ms Koch-Mehrin how best to champion women and how, as an organisation, the ELN can do better to support women in defence and security.

Progress is being made, but we cannot be complacent.  Women, particularly younger women, are active and influential, but those who reach the highest levels are too few and overcommitted. How do we overcome this and promote and elevate women as leaders?

We ask what can be done to ensure that we keep moving in the right direction and how we at the ELN exercise commitments not to appear on single-sex panels, and how our Chairman ensures balanced audience participation.

Watch the conversation in full here

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.