Gender Training of the Trainers Course (GToT)

In the period from 6th to 16th September 2021 RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation together with the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM) and the Personnel Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia co-organized the “Gender Training of the Trainers Course (GToT)”.

The GToT Course was a 10-day training event designed as a combination of lectures, corresponding individual and syndicate work, followed by a practical exercise and the final exam. The GToT curriculum was built based on the NCGM template certified by NATO with some improvements and adjustments made in accordance with the lessons learned from previous similar training events held from 2014 onwards. Prior to their arrival the students were obliged to complete the NATO “ADL 169” online Course, “Improving Operational Effectiveness by Integrating the Gender Perspective”. Hence they arrived with a common level of knowledge about the subject matter.

After a brief Official opening of the Course on 6th September, the work continued with participants’ introductions and a presentation of the general academic and administrative information which primarily included the learning outcomes and objectives of the Course, the Course schedule, and the individual responsibilities including a final exam. Furthermore, the syndicate system of work was presented and the four syndicates themselves were established (a syndicate set-up). From the very beginning the students were encouraged to be open and actively contribute to joint work primarily as members of a designated group – a syndicate.

The first week of the Course was dedicated to the gender-related terms and definitions, the basics of training assessment tools, instructional strategies and techniques, NATO Bi-SC Directive 40-1, the international humanitarian law and human rights, UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security and related Resolutions. The students also learned how to identify the gender perspective as a tool in the Commander’s operational tool kit and to apply the gender perspective at the strategic, operational and tactical level in military tasks.

The first Course day ended with the Team building event which was designed to support the Course objectives and had the primary purpose of facilitating the students’ informal introduction, initial syndicate bonding and creation of the positive competitive spirit among the syndicates.

The final day of week one of the Course a “Project Work Day” was held. The aim of “Project Work Day” is to plan education, training or an exercise that integrates a gender perspective. Instead of having lectures students were working on project-planning education, training or exercises for different training audiences at different levels from the tactical to the operational and strategic level.

On Saturday, Gender Training for the Trainers Course participants and their instructors had the opportunity to enjoy the beauties of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and on Sunday a tour of the city of Zagreb as a part of teambuilding programe.

The second week of the Course was dedicated to essential required teaching skills like conducting the learning assessment, making a good presentation, integrating gender into already existing education and training and handling resistance in training situations. Students worked in syndicates on extraction of the main provisions of national Action plans or MoD-related policy regarding UNSC Resolution on Women, Peace and Security.

The key event was the practical outdoor exercise on how to use role playing in gender integrated training, which was held during day six. This type of exercise facilitates an active understanding of the information and gives participants the opportunity to apply new skills and abilities. The simulation serves as a rehearsal on how to conduct future activities.

On 16th of September it was the graduation day. All students succeeded in their final exam thus confirming their qualities as instructors and professionalism. During the last day of the Course a final assessment took place and involved all Course actors.

MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, RACVIAC Director, closed the GToT Course with words: „During these two, quite demanding weeks we have witnessed how complete strangers became very good colleagues, and I would even dare say, good friends. This is exactly what we were hoping to see here in RACVIAC again. Your openness and willingness to actively participate in all assignments and practical exercises conducted by highly skilled and capable gender instructors was crucial for the success of this Course.“

He especially thanked the Course Director, COL Fahir Žilić, who has tailored this Course to RACVIAC needs perfectly. Furthermore, he used this opportunity to thank RACVIAC long-standing partners in this activity, Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations – NCGM and the Croatian Armed Forces for their continuous support!

This year the Course continued to grow in terms of the regionally-owned aspect: the Course Director was COL Fahir Žilić, Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and most of the syndicate leaders and instructors came from the SEE region, while one syndicate leader was a representative of the Swedish Armed Forces and one was a representative of the Portugese Armed Forces.

In total 35 participant, military officers and NCOs as well as civilian equivalents from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia including Subject Matter Experts and instructors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and RACVIAC staff, took part in the Course. Out of this number 21 was Course student while the rest were involved in the Course execution as academic, administrative or support personnel.

This event is specific in terms of evaluation which is done in real time and on a daily basis for the Course academic purposes and using modern IT solutions. It is the longest and also the most demanding RACVIAC activity in terms of the instructing staff involved and the level of applied IT support. This particular RACVIAC training activity is an excellent example of the level of cooperation and synergy achieved among the three main organizational partners in utilizing mutual resources and support.